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Pride of the skies
Kaneohe's Marine Corps Base
"Outstanding" was the word Penny Marama chose to sum up the Navy Blue Angels performance yesterday at the Marine Corps Base in Kaneohe, with the green Koolau Mountains and the blue Pacific as backdrop.
"Did you see how close together they were?" Marama asked. "It makes me proud."
The precision of the Navy's exhibition team "gives you a better respect for how hard they work," said Rebekah Roberson, 16, whose Army father is pulling his second tour of duty in Iraq. "It makes me feel closer to him," she said.
Thousands of people flooded onto the Marine base yesterday for the air show, which offered performances by a number of aerobatic planes before the Blue Angels took off at 3 p.m.
"They were lined up waiting at 10 a.m. when we opened the gates," said Marine Staff Sgt. Jeff Middleton. More than 5,000 vehicles entered the base.
"It was a great turnout," Middleton said.
In addition to the air show, there were dozens of planes, helicopters and military vehicles on display. Some allowed curious kids -- and adults -- to go inside.
Pride in the prowess of the American military was a recurring theme for many attending.
"I'm really impressed with their expertise," said Ed Lesperance, a Vietnam veteran who lives in Kaneohe. "These jets now far outstrip what we had 30 years ago."
Four of the six Blue Angel planes flew most of their maneuvers in a tight diamond-shaped formation that from some angles made the four planes look like one unit. When they passed close over the crowd, the sound was deafening.
The two additional planes flew a variety of specialty moves during their 45-minute show that included zooming straight at each other, only to bank hard at the last minute.
Several passes included one or more pilots flying for many seconds at a time upside-down.
For the Brooke family of Kaneohe seeing the Blue Angels was like a taste of home. When the family lived in Pensacola, Fla., the planes flew over their house every week during practice.
"When I heard them, I'd run out of the house to see them," said Michelle Brooke.
"They really are intriguing," said her daughter Christie, 14. "Seeing them makes me feel at home."
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