TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Two pilots with the U.S. Navy Blue Angels landed in Alabama recently as part of their preparation for next year’s Tuscaloosa Regional Air Show.

Lt. Andre Webb and Lt. David Steppe arrived at a private hangar at the Tuscaloosa Regional Airport in their signature blue and yellow McDonnell Douglas F/A-18 Hornet, The Tuscaloosa News reported .

“It’s always a good time anytime you’ve got an excuse to come back to Alabama,” said Steppe, a Birmingham native and alumnus of Auburn University.

It is the fighter jet that the squadron’s pilots fly in their demonstrations across the nation.

Their recent visit to Tuscaloosa was part of a site-surveying tour of more than 30 locations where the Blue Angels will perform next year.

The Tuscaloosa air show, scheduled for April 14-15, will mark the fifth time Blue Angels have performed over Tuscaloosa since 2009.

“The city and community does a lot for us. You guys have opened your arms for us to be here and it takes a lot of manpower to have any jet team in town, be it the (U.S. Air Force) Thunderbirds, the (Canadian Forces) Snowbirds or the Blue Angels,” Steppe said.

“For us to come back to Tuscaloosa, it really is because of that relationship we have with the community here that we’ve built throughout the years,” he added.

Steppe and Webb said the Blue Angels perform for two basic reasons — to inspire a culture of excellence, pride and professionalism through their aerial acrobatics, and as a recruitment tool to attract young men and women to the United States Navy and Marine Corps.

“We’re looking for everybody in the city of Tuscaloosa to come out because it’s going to be an awesome air show,” Steppe said. “And it’s not just us, you’re going to have a load of performers that are phenomenal here, too.”


Information from: The Tuscaloosa News, http://www.tuscaloosanews.com