Thursday, July 03, 2014

Michigan Experience: Ready for the Blue Angels at the National Cherry Festival

TRAVERSE CITY, MI -- It was my first time at a United States Coast Guard Air Station. 

 And my first time meeting a member of the world famous demonstration team the Blue Angels. The team, which annually entertains about 11 million fans, is here to perform two shows this weekend (July 5-6) at the National Cherry Festival.

The six-member crew arrived in their F/18 planes earlier in the day from Pensacola, Florida, and made a special fly over for Cherry Festival officials and members of the media.

The big news of the day, "Fat Albert" won't be flying as part of the show this weekend. The C-130 plane, nicknamed after the '70s cartoon for its size, hit a bird en route to Traverse City and damaged a wing.

Still, the crew was excited to be back in the area after a four-year absence.

Members of the media were teamed up to interview the pilots. I lucked out and talked to Commander Thomas Frosch, a Michigan native who used to visit the area as a kid and learned to ski at Homestead.

He is a 1988 graduate of Fraser High School and excited to be in his home state. The team leader is in Plane No, 1, and leads the team. He calls his job a "privilege and honor."

"And to be able to come and bring the Blue Angles to my own home state and show the local people the pride and professionalism of this team is truly an honor," said Frosch, who expects more than 50 friends and relatives to visit him this weekend.

As the commanding officer of a team of about 130 people, he said his job as flight leader is to coordinate the demonstrations, and the crew.

And to "inspire" those who come out to see the shows. Especially the kids.

"I saw them when I was a kid....and to see them smile and look up and be excited, and see the crowd lines after, it's something I remember as a kid," he said.

"We're just trying to reach as many kids as we can to inspire them to follow their dreams and pursue their goals."

You can get complete information to the Cherry Festival and more details on the Blue Angels at

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