Four Navy Blue Angels Visit Bartlesville And Sedan, Kansas
SEDAN, Kansas - Four Blue Angel fighter jets landed at the Bartlesville Airport Monday. It was the first time the U.S. Navy Flight Demonstration Squadron has ever stopped in Bartlesville.
It was a homecoming for slot pilot, Lieutenant Andy Talbott. The Bartlesville Airport is where Talbott got his first set of wings, but being a Blue Angel was always in the back of his mind.
“It so surreal, it's almost like a dream to be able to represent our 500,000/700,000 Marines and Sailors right here in Bartlesville, Oklahoma,” Talbott said.
It was 16 years ago that Talbott first stopped by the Bartlesville Airport to learn to fly.
“I was 16 years old, I came over - my parents didn't even know I drove over here to do a flight lesson,” Talbott said. “I’d been saving my money up, part-time jobs in high school; it's all I could think about it.”
His first instructor said Talbott was natural in the cockpit.
“I just kind of rode along and kept him legal while he taught himself how to fly,” flight instructor Dwight Boesiger said.
Before Talbott was a Blue Angel, he was, ironically, a Blue Devil…the mascot at Sedan High School where he graduated in 2002.
Both the school and town welcomed Talbott back with open arms Monday. After landing the F-18s in Bartlesville, Talbott and three of his Blue Angels team members drove up to Kansas to let students in Sedan know anything is possible.
“I had a lot of things going against what I wanted to do and all it took was dedication and hard work,” he told the group of about 100 students.
Talbott graduated from Kansas State University in 2005, joined the Navy in 2006 and served two tours of duty overseas, the Blue Angels in 2014 -- an elite group with only six pilots and 130 team members.
“These are the vessels that we utilize to live the legacy of the Blue Angels and of our mission,” Talbott said. “It’s not about us whatsoever, it’s about the team.”
Their mission is to inspire a culture of excellence through meticulously synchronized flight demonstration, but also through community outreach, like their stop in Sedan.
“Hopefully [we’ll] inspire somebody to do something with their life, like I was lucky enough and blessed enough to do.”
And, while his success came through his own determination, it was ignited by the support and the lessons from his first flight instructor, who watched with misty eyes and a camera in hand, as his former student flew into the airport where it all began - this time as one of the most prestigious fighter pilots in the country.
“It was great. It was really great for me, I've been proud of him just like a son,” Boesiger said.
The Blue Angels work 300 days a year and are currently in winter training. Their next show is in California in March.
Talbott will retire as a Blue Angel and likely go back to active duty in November 2017.