Confessions of a U.S. Navy Blue Angel
Recently, Commander Shaun Swartz, a former U.S. Navy Blue Angel, shared his thoughts, opinions and recollections with Tyler Rogoway of the popular Foxtrot Alpha military aviation blog.
I first met "Linus" when he was a stashed Ensign in VF-101 waiting to fly the ultra cool F-14 Tomcat. Knowing that getting stuck with a female civilian in the NAS Oceana Air Show office probably wasn't his preferred gig, I tried to make sure he reaped the benefits of the air show by flying in everything possible.
I'd like to think his air show experience propelled him to be on the F-14 Demo team and ultimately "rush" the Blue Angels. However, you'll have to read his compelling interview with Rogoway to get the "gouge" on his Blue Angel experience and more. Great read, enjoy!
Confession of a U.S. Navy Blue Angel
Commander Shaun "Linus" Swartz has realized more dreams in his life than most of us ever will, and he did it the old fashion way, through really hard work. He was a graduate of Stanford University, a decorated and combat tested Naval Flight Officer who spent his time in F-14s and later F/A-18s and is now a team lead for the F-35 Joint Program Office, with many stops and accomplishments along the way. Yet Commander Swartz's most amazing accomplishment is to have been hand-selected to be a part of the world-famous Blue Angels.
Foxtrot Alpha had the pleasure to ask Commander Swartz anything we wanted, so we did. Our correspondence ranged in topics including the realities of getting selected for and living life on the road with the Blues Angels, the recent sexual harassment scandal that hammered the team, what it was like to go to war in the F-14 Tomcat after the events of 9-11, the strategy against ISIS, what the F-35 means for the future of Naval Aviation, and just about everything in between:
After already being part of one of the most competitive institutions in the world, the F-14 Tomcat community, at what point in time did you say to yourself "gee, I want to become part of an even more competitive institution, the Blue Angels?"
In 2004 I was lucky enough to be on the F-14 Demo Team (with Smokin' Joe) as part of my duties as an F-14 Replacement Air Group (RAG) Instructor at VF-101 "Grim Reapers" out of NAS Oceana. This clearly was the best possible job in the world for a 31 year old single dude (granted I had a serious girlfriend at the time, now my wife). During the week I flew in fighters teaching our next cadre of motivated "Studs" (short for Students) how to fight and employ the aircraft I had wanted to fly since I was a little kid. During the weekends I jumped in a jet with one of my best buds and we went to you name it city, USA, where we were treated like rock stars and got to fly the airplane like you weren't allowed to fly it anywhere else, ever, period (maybe unless you were under hostile fire).