Blue Angels Soar
Blue Angels Soar | PHOTO COURTESY OF U.S. NAVY

NAFEC: First Fest of Flight Broadcast Starring Blue Angels Planned

NAF EL CENTRO — Naval Air Facility El Centro will host the first-ever radio broadcast of its annual Festival of Flight, March 13, from 12:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m., featuring high-flying performances by a variety of military aircraft including the U.S. Navy’s flight demonstration squadron, the Blue Angels.

The decision to radio broadcast the air show in a virtual space on KXO, 107.5 FM and 1230 AM, instead of the traditional public audience on base, allows Imperial Valley residents an opportunity to encounter U.S. military aviation demonstrations in a safe environment during the COVID-19 pandemic. The result will be a unique back-yard barbeque approach that can be experienced across the region in more personal setting.  

The 2021 Naval Air Facility El Centro Festival of Flight poster is shown. | COURTESY IMAGE

“The Navy is approaching 75 years of flying in the Imperial Valley,” said Capt. William Perkins, commanding officer, NAF El Centro. “In order to celebrate our relationship with the communities which surround the base, especially in light of the impact that we have all felt from the COVID-19 pandemic, we fought hard to create a safe event that highlights the importance of our flight operations while recognizing the environmental conditions COVID-19 is imposing on us all.” 

This year’s virtual “sports desk” performance on KXO FM-radio is intended to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus while continuing the great tradition of celebrating the partnership of military aviation with the Imperial Valley community. The event has been held nearly every year since 1970 and typically attracts more than 10,000 spectators, making physical distancing impractical during a conventional showcase.

“We want everyone to enjoy the festival and the aviation demonstration teams which will be performing and broadcast in a virtual space,” Perkins said. “Although we cannot accommodate a public viewing on or near the base, we will be providing the experience through live radio broadcast and following up the festival with short videos highlights which enable a safe, virtual, contactless experience.”

The Festival of Flight is the Navy’s largest community outreach event in the Imperial Valley region. This year’s schedule includes the highly-anticipated performance by the Navy’s elite flight demonstration squadron, the Blue Angels, who will mark their 75th anniversary and are transitioning to the F/A-18 E/F Super Hornets. Other scheduled acts include the Air Force’s A-10 Thunderbolt II, the Navy’s F/A-18 TACDEMO and jump team – the Leapfrogs – as well as the Marine Corps’ MV-22 Osprey.

Although public access to the base is restricted, retirees and personnel with base access will be authorized to access the Navy Exchange, Commissary, and fuel station. However, Perkins noted, “I request those with the privilege to access to the base respect our safety protocols and do not attempt to visit with the intention of getting closer to the air demonstrations.  We are working hard to make the virtual experience as enjoyable and as safe as possible; gatherings on or near the base put all of us at additional risk for exposure to COVID and I request your cooperation in working with in this area.” 

As an additional precaution, the perimeter roads around the facility will be closed due to security protocols during an airshow and in accordance with FAA regulations to maintain the safety of civilians and military personnel. 

 “We understand there will be many event questions due to the announcement delay caused by the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Kristopher Haugh, public affairs officer, NAF El Centro. “We will be aggressive with information on our Facebook social-media page and event website where information will be available for those interested in making plans for this historic event.”

The NAF El Centro Festival of Flight is a critical component of the community outreach communication plan. It is instrumental in developing goodwill within the community and reinforcing partnerships in Imperial Valley and surrounding communities.

The mission of Naval Air Facility El Centro is to support the combat training and readiness of the Warfighter. This includes air operations support to operational fleet and training squadrons as well as squadrons from other services (USMC, USA, USAF) and Allies.

For questions about the article media representatives are encouraged to contact the Public Affairs Office at NAFECPAO@gmail.com or Kristopher.haugh@navy.mil or call 760-339-2673/2519.

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