When you mention the Blue Angels to just about any American they instantly think of the most precise aerobatic flight team on the planet. The Blue Angels is the U.S. Navy’s flight demonstration squadron; comprised of some of the most talented fighter pilots in the entire world. With a reputation like that, there’s no wonder that a speed junkie like Mike Knowles would jump at the chance to take a ride with the famed group.
“When I got the call I was so excited,” said Knowles. “I’ve wanted to do this for a long time. When they told me the flight would be outside of Chicago in Gary, Indiana; I think they knew I lived in Colorado and they may have thought logistically it would be tough for me but, I instantly said yes and just asked when,” added Knowles.
Mike Knowles was chosen for the honor to fly with the Blue Angels because of his contributions to his community and local school system; both through his company, Knowles Enterprises, and as a private citizen.
Formed in 1946, the Blue Angels is one of the oldest flying aerobatic teams. Since its inception the Blue Angels have flown in front of more than 260 million spectators. The show's narrator flies Blue Angel 7, a two-seat F/A-18B Hornet, to show sites. The Blues use this jet for backup, and to give demonstration rides to VIP civilians. Three backseats each show are available, one of them goes to members of the press, the other two to Key Influencers.
Knowles flight took place this past week with Pilot Lt. Mark Tedrow behind the controls of U.S. Navy Blue Angel 7. Lieutenant Mark Tedrow is a native of Charleroi, Pennsylvania. He attended the United States Naval Academy, where he played football, and graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree. He earned his wings of gold in August 2006. Mark completed deployments in the Western Pacific and Middle East aboard USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. Mark joined the Blue Angels in September 2011. He has accumulated more than 1,300 flight hours and 212 carrier arrested landings. His decorations include the Strike Flight Air Medal, the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, and various personal and unit awards.
Prior to his flight Knowles took an orientation class to better explain what to expect on the 1 hour flight. Knowles will be the first to tell you that being told about the flight, no matter how well you are instructed, just does not fully prepare you for the sensory overload you are about to experience.
“I’ll start off by telling you the worst part about the flight,” said Knowles. “The worst part is you can never explain it to someone and do the experience justice. We left the runway and just went straight up pulling 7g’s. It was unreal. On the flight we hit .98 Mach, just under the speed of sound. (FAA regulations do not allow the braking of the sound barrier over land near civilian areas.) I was lucky enough to have my entire experience with the Blue Angles caught on film. I think the footage can explain it far better than I ever could. I am just so, thankful for everyone involved in making this happen, including my pilot, Lt. Mark Tedrow and his crew Chief, Kyle Storm. This just was incredible!”
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