Point Mugu, California - The Blue Angels came roaring back Saturday to Naval Base Ventura County, after a 16-year hiatus for the 2015 Point Mugu Air Show, where the headlining act brought flawless aerobatic excitement to an eager crowd of thousands.
While scheduled for two performances in Ventura County since their last show in 1999, The Navy's flight demonstration squadron was met with hard luck on both occasions. In October 2005, foggy weather conditions kept pilots on the ground, while a performance scheduled for September 2013 was axed as a result of broad federal spending reductions.
"We don't anticipate that will ever happen again, as we think our leadership has planned accordingly," said Lt. Amber Lynn Daniel, the Blue Angels' public affairs officer and a native of nearby Ramona, California.
An estimated 75,000 people turned out on the first day of the two-day event, to gaze at displays of civilian and military hardware while aerial demonstrations occurred throughout the day. Rousing aerobatics from historic and contemporary airframes gave way to The Blue Angels at 3 p.m., who opened their act with a demonstration by Fat Albert, a C-130 Hercules piloted by its all-Marine Corps crew.
"We are out here to inspire excellence," Daniel said. "That's the Blue Angels' mission. We understand that not everybody can serve in the military - but every American can pursue excellence...at whatever they're skilled at."
Fat Albert captivated the audience as excitement built toward the Blue Angels' culminating act, in which six blue and gold F/A-18 Hornets took to the skies for their first public performance above Ventura County in more than a decade.
"I never seen anything fly like that before," said 8-year-old Connor Walsh of neighboring Oxnard, California.
His parents, Ryan and Katie Walsh, couldn't resist the urge to introduce Connor and his sister, Mollie, to their local naval base.
"I think it's kind of a nice way to get people in to see what they're doing with the base and let civilians mingle with some of the military guys," said Mr. Walsh.
"Yes, I was just saying as we were coming in that we've lived here for eight years and I've never been this far onto the base," said Mrs. Walsh. "It really opens [the children's] eyes to what's here right in their own neighborhood."
Until this weekend, families from the local area who recently wished to see a performance by the Navy's world-famous aviators have had to travel as far as Miramar or El Centro, California, both more than 200 miles away from Naval Base Ventura County.
"We are really, really excited to be back in Ventura," said Daniel.