Blue Angels to return to Annapolis, Baltimore skies

For the first time since 2010, it appears the Blue Angels will be back in full formation above graduation ceremonies at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis this spring.

They'll also show up above Baltimore next fall.

The U.S. Navy announced funding on Monday for the "full" schedule of its Flight Demonstration Squadron — better known as the Blue Angels — in fiscal year 2014, after sequestration grounded the jet fighter team's operations this year.

A Blue Angels spokesman confirmed Tuesday morning that the team is planning to perform at all shows listed on its current 2014 schedule.

That schedule includes air shows in Annapolis on May 21 and May 23 — which is commissioning week and graduation — and in Baltimore from Sept. 13 to 14, which is the "Star-Spangled Spectacular" commemoration of the bicentennial of the War of 1812.

"We're happy to be on the schedule," said Cmdr. John Schofield, an academy spokesman. "It's an event that means a lot to the Mids and the parents and to the Annapolis community as a whole."

The Blue Angels have performed for graduates at the Academy almost every year since 1954, but haven't done a full performance since 2010.

In 2011, they were retooling after a dangerous maneuver nearly went wrong at an air show. In 2012, they did a flyover but not a full performance because the graduation date had changed and they had a scheduling conflict.

In 2013, sequestration forced the Navy to cancel 2,800 events across the country, including the Blue Angels' performances, officials said.

In June 2012, the Blue Angels screeched over Fort McHenry and the Inner Harbor in Baltimore for the "Star-Spangled Sailabration," the kick-off event to September's "Spectacular" send-off to the bicentennial.

On Monday, Rear Admiral John Kirby, a Navy spokesman, wrote on the Navy's official blog that the fiscal year 2014 budget includes enough community outreach funding to cover the costs of the Blue Angels' schedule and other Navy events.

From a pre-sequestration outreach budget of $99.38 million, the Navy is now operating with a $57.2 million outreach budget, which is about a 42.2 percent reduction.

"For us, this means that, while we won't return to our pre-sequester level of outreach activity, we will be able to execute our key programs in a manner that ensures Americans outside of fleet concentration areas have the opportunity to see and connect with their Navy," he wrote.

In addition to Blue Angel air shows, the Navy will also be participating in port visits and fleet and Navy weeks, including a Navy Week in Baltimore and a port visit in Baltimore.

The events are geared toward providing Americans "around our nation with special events to explain and show what their Navy does," Kirby wrote.

Schofield said previous limitations on community outreach efforts, including under the recent partial government shutdown, had prevented midshipmen from participating in all planned community events — they committed 23,000 hours of community service last academic year — and returning to that work is just as exciting as the Blue Angels coming back.

"Service to our community — be it through midshipmen volunteer efforts or entertainment and outreach — is one of our top priorities," he said.

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