Anyone in Smyrna on Thursday was sure to catch the United States Navy Blue Angels as they practiced coordinated routines previous to their flight demonstration squad performing on Saturday June 10 and Sunday, June 11 at the Great Tennessee Air Show Presented by Nissan. They are the featured performers. The show will also include military and civilian aerial performances by the U.S. Navy Blue Angels Fat Albert C-130, U.S. Air Force Raptor F-22, U.S. Air Force Heritage Flight, U.S. Navy F-35 dual aircraft performance, U.S. Navy Legacy Flight, SOCOM Para Commandos, RJ Gritter – Bellanca Decathlon and Piper J 3 Cub; Greg Colyer – Ace Maker T-33; Scott Yoak – Quicksilver P-51, Jim Tobul – Corsair, Michael Goulian – Extra 330, and the Spirit of Detroit – DC-3.
Event details: The Great Tennessee Air Show takes place June 10th and 11th at the Smyrna/Rutherford County Airport on Fitzhugh Blvd in Smyrna. The schedule is the same for both days. Gates open at 8am, at 9:00am, the Flight Line Club opens and the show ends at 4:30pm.
Produced by The Air Show Network in partnership with the Smyrna/Rutherford County Airport Authority, this world-class air show will also feature a vast selection of military and civilian aircraft on static display as well as a number of interactive displays, food and merchandise.
This year’s Blue Angel squad includes Lt. Amanda Lee, the first female to fly in the six-person demonstration squad, and Lt. Commander Julius Bratton from Woodlawn, Tennessee near Clarksville. Bratton is one of the two lead soloists on the team. He joined the Blue Angels in September 2019. He has accumulated more than 2,000 flight hours and has 207 carrier arrested landings. His decorations include a Strike Flight Air Medal, three Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medals, and various other unit and personal awards.
Bratton says that the squad is the epitome of teamwork, and that what they do is a product of what they learn as part of the fleet, plus all of their Marine and Navy training. What he loves most about being a part of bringing the Blue Angels to Smyrna is that he is able to bring their skills to the backyard of his fellow Tennesseans.
“If no one has seen Navy pilots,” said Bratton, “they will see them this weekend.”
Training for the team is extensive. They have two or three practice flights per day in order to perfect their skills. Even before joining the team, members must have 1,250 jet flight hours, according to Bratton.
“There is no perfect flight,” said Bratton, “but we strive for it.”
He admits that one of his favorite parts of the job is inspiring the next generation of fliers. He loves talking to kids who are as fascinated with planes and flying as he was as a child.
Another member of the team from Tennessee is Petty Officer Second Class Kollyn Ellgood. Ellgood grew up in Goodlettsville, and he serves as an aviation structural mechanic for Bratton. His job is to ensure that Bratton’s plane is safe and that the elements like oxygen and the canopy are functioning properly. This is especially important as Bratton does a lot of the air acrobatics.
“He has a couple of tricks up his sleeve,” Ellgood proudly notes.
For more information about the Great Tennessee Air Show, as well as purchasing of One-Day Passes, and Premium Ticketing Options, visit www.greattennesseeairshow.com.