WTOC’s Mariah Congedo takes a ride with the United States Navy Blue Angels

Published: Apr. 24, 2022 at 3:51 PM EDT|Updated: Apr. 24, 2022 at 7:24 PM EDT
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VIDALIA, Ga. (WTOC) - The United States Navy Blue Angels are back in Vidalia for the first time since 2015.

Before their air shows WTOC’s very own Mariah Congedo had the chance to ride with them.

She says it was a true honor to get the opportunity and the experience is quote ‘indescribable.’

The United States Navy Blue Angels could be heard all weekend at Vidalia’s 45th Annual Onion Festival.

“It’s just a testament to what your Navy and Marine Corps teams do each and every day out there for ya,” Captain Brian Kesselring, Blue Angels Flight Leader & Commanding Officer said.

Their mission is to showcase professionalism and teamwork through these flight demonstrations.

Captain Brian Kesselring, Flight Leader and Commanding Officer, says the team spends nearly 300 days a year on the road away from home.

“We’re flying twice a day. In some cases, 6 days a week for upwards of five months before we do our first show,” Kesselring said.

Captain Kesselring says one of the many things they enjoy is having the chance to payback the community.

“Let them see what their jets are. These are America’s jets,” Kesselring said.

So, the Angels give community leaders and folks, the chance to experience what they do.

A first-hand experience, that is, from the backseat of their F/A-18 Super Hornet fighter jet and C-130 Super Hercules.

Those who get the ride of a lifetime are nominated and then selected by the Blue Angels themselves.

A few months of prep lead Mariah there.

“This big plane is going to move dynamically. So you’re going to feel a lot of movement pulling you to the rear,” GySgt. Leighton Gaddis, Flight Engineer said.

The team gets briefed and then heads on in to take their seats.

Mariah sat next to the window for the type of ride the team refers to as “the fun” ride and she went through the exact flight demonstration that Fat Albert does in the air show.

As it rolls down the runway it lifts off toward the sky at a 45-degree incline and It goes on to make numerous banked turns and a flat pass before it was wheels down in a quick landing.

In the show Fat Albert is followed by six jets.

A display of precision and skill bringing out a crowd of thousands.

It’s a performance unlike any other.

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