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Blue Angel brings it home

U.S. Navy Lt. Cmdr. Andre Webb, a Lawton native, will be returning to the Sooner State to fly in Tinker Air Force Base’s bi-annual Star Spangled Salute Air & Space Show this weekend.

“Knowing that I know of a lot of people in the crowd will be pretty exciting,” he said. “It will be a similar feeling to last week when we were performing in Annapolis. “

Webb, an opposing solo pilot assigned to the U.S. Navy flight demonstration squadron, the Blue Angels, joined the team in Sept. 2017. He graduated from Eisenhower High School in 2004 and the U.S. Naval Academy, Annapolis, Maryland, in 2008.

“Applying for the team is a humbling experience and being selected is an honor and a privilege. It is a special feeling to carry on the legacy of the men and women who came before me, it’s a very special feeling,” he said. “It’s definitely a team effort. It starts with the maintainers. They work on the jets and make sure they are working perfectly, so when the six of us go out we are highly confident for a safe flight and put on a great show.”

Webb says before the show, the team practices, a lot.

“We spend three months in California practicing before the show season starts,” he said. “When the season starts, we practice twice a week in Pensacola, Florida before we hit the road.”

He said the group performs at more than 30 show sites per year, where they perform in two shows at each site. That doesn’t even count the two to three practice shows they do before the two main shows.

Once his tour with the Blue Angels is up next year, Webb said he will likely return to a Navy squadron, flying in combat missions or instructing.

He has more than 2,400 flight hours, as well as about 200 carrier-arrested landing under his belt. Additionally, his combat missions include: Operations Inherent Resolve, Freedom’s Sentinel and Enduring Freedom.

The Blue Angels are scheduled to perform at 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. The team hasn’t performed at Tinker AFB since 2007.

“We’re very happy to have them this year,” said Lt. Col. Casey J. Hayes, commander of the 72nd Operational Support Squadron and this year’s air & space show director. “It’s a good representation of the presence the U.S. Navy has at Tinker.”

This will also be one of the last performances the team will be flying the Boeing F/A-18 Hornet. Following the air show season, the team will begin transitioning to the F/A-18 “Super” Hornet. The Super Hornet is expected to be fully implemented in 2021, the team’s 75th anniversary season.

Webb said the application process to join the team is pretty simple.

“Go to the Navy Blue Angels website and click ‘Join the Team’. It’s that simple,” he said. “Talk to friends, colleagues or acquaintances, which have been a part of the team before and go from there.”

To visit the Blue Angels website, go to blueangels.navy.mil.