May 19, 2011
By Justin Kischefsky
Navy Asst. Sports Information Dir.
The eyes of thousands will be transfixed on the skies over the Naval Academy next week when the U.S. Navy's Flight Demonstration Squadron, the Blue Angels, returns to Annapolis for an appearance during Commissioning Week. Countless spectators with their feet firmly planted on terra firma will walk away from viewing the team's practice session (Tuesday) and aerial show (Wednesday) with their own heads in the clouds after gazing in awe at the precision of the pilots performing wingtip-to-wingtip formations, loops that seeming defy gravity and high-speed, head-on passes in their distinctively blue-hued F/A-18 Hornets.
While air show patrons are left to use their imagination and dream what it must be like to be part of the prestigious squadron, three current members of the Blue Angels team are former Naval Academy student-athletes who live out that sense of wonderment daily.
"The girl I dated when I was at the Naval Academy sent me an e-mail after I got the job saying, `Do you remember watching the Blue Angels performing over Annapolis and saying you were going to do that someday?'" said Cmdr. Dave Koss (`91), the lead pilot (No. 1) and commanding officer of the squadron who won his weight class at the 1991 Brigade Boxing Championship.
"I never thought I would actually be a Blue Angel -- I still can't believe it! -- but watching them perform at the Naval Academy motivated me each day and every year to do my best academically and militarily to have the opportunity to fly," said Lt. C.J. Simonsen (`02), the opposing solo pilot (No. 6) who served as the captain of the indoor track team as a senior at Navy.
"I was thoroughly impressed when I saw the Blues perform, with the precision flying of the diamond, maximum performance capabilities of the solos and the tactical flight characteristics of the C-130, Fat Albert, but never thought I would be on the team," said. Lt. Katie Kelly (`04), the public affairs officer for the Blue Angels who was a four-year member of the Navy swimming team.
Each member of the trio took circuitous routes to the Naval Academy and their present positions.
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