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Blue Angels pilot and crewmember share what they love about the job

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LA CROSSE, Wis. (WXOW) - The Blue Angels are back in La Crosse! After a long wait and much anticipation from the community, they have returned for Airfest 2021.

Commander Brian Kesselring, Commanding Officer and Flight Leader of the Blue Angels, has been to La Crosse before but not as part of the Blue Angels team.

"One of the things that we are so excited to do is spread the message and represent the over 800,000 active duty Navy and Marine Corps members and reserve members as well and civilian support personnel," said Kesselring.

He explained that most people don't get a chance to interact with them and this gives them the opportunity to show the public what they do as a Naval Aviation team.

"By nature, the naval forces, both the Navy and Marine Corps are a deployed force either at sea or in a foreign land so the public doesn't get a lot of chance to interact with us by the nature of what we do."

Kesselring said he saw an airshow back in 1986 and that is what inspired him to join the Navy. After 20 years of flying aircraft carriers, at the end of his career he is honored to be a part of the Blue Angels.

"To be able to come in here and lead this team on a special mission to kind of showcase the Navy and Marine Corps to maybe inspire that next generation like I was inspired to join the Navy," said Kesselring.

2021 actually marks their 75th year of the Blue Angels and Kesselring said they are so excited to perform for the La Crosse area.

"This is an anniversary year and a year that we are going to break out our two brand new platforms with the F-18 Super Hornet which is one of our combat-tested aircraft that fly off of our aircraft carriers right now today," said Kesselring. "Also, the C-130J Super Hercules, commonly known as "Fat Albert" which we use as a logistics platform."

He explained that they take aircraft from the fleet and make them into Blue Angel jets with minor modifications and they are ready to fly.

"All these jets have trained fleet aviators in the Navy and it's super cool to have them here and fly them for you all today and this weekend," said Kesselring.

He wants people to know that they are from the Navy and Marine Corps and they are going back to the Navy and Marine Corps and it is an honor and privilege to represent that team.

"Although we do some things here, wear these non-standard blue flight suits and have kind of funny blue and gold painted aircraft, we are not kidding. We just came within a year or two from the fleet and we are going back. We are a representation of what your Navy and Marine Corps are doing," said Kesselring.

AT2 Cyrus Brown, Aviation Electronics Technician, works on the brain of the jet like the computers, navigation, displays, and flight controls. Along with Kesselring, he said it is a fantastic honor to be a part of the Blue Angels team.

"This team is from the fleet so it's all my brothers and sisters that I worked with before and new faces. Everyone is here committed to the team, committed to showcasing the excellence and performance of the Navy and Marine Corps," said Brown.

This weekend they said people can expect to first see their support personnel prepping the jets for flight as part of their ground show. Then, they will hop in the jets and it's showtime.

"Once we hop in the jets they will see our flight demonstration and the Super Hornet and it will be fantastic. You'll get a chance to see an aircraft that is about 33% bigger than our older aircraft that we used to be flying, what we call the Legacy Hornet," said Kesselring.

He said they believe it's going to be a better airshow with different visuals. Tickets for Airfest can still be purchased on their website. They are sold per car and people are encouraged to bring lawn chairs and blankets to sit and watch outside their cars.

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Rylie Kyhn

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