CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Aviators, both military and private, are getting ready for this weekend's Wings Over South Texas Air Show.
As many as 50,000 people a day are expected for the weekend event, and on Thursday one of the show's main attractions arrived in the Coastal Bend.
"I've wanted to be a pilot since I knew what flying was," Capt. Eric Doyle said. "It was a dream to be a pilot, and the Blue Angels was the ultimate goal of being a pilot."
Doyle, the Blue Angels Flight Leader, landed at Naval Air Station-Corpus Christi Thursday morning ready to lead the squadron through the Wings Over South Texas Air Show.
There are 144 members of the squadron including pilots and ground crews. Many arrived this morning aboard a cargo plane nicknamed "Fat Albert."
Doyle, a native of League City, Texas, said their performances every year are a tribute.
"Our mission is to promote a culture of excellance, and service is the main word that I like to use," Doyle said. "And that's service. That doesn't necessarily mean only in the Navy and Marine Corps, find a way to serve."
That sentiment carries over to the Blue Angels ground crew, many of whom have ties to the Coastal Bend like Petty Officer 2nd Class Andrew Rehder, who is one of the maintainers for the Blue Angels.
"I have in-laws here," Rehder said. "My wife is orginally from Corpus Christi, so we're excited to visit."
Rehder is six months into his three-year assignment with the Blue Angels and enjoys speaking about the team with young people.
The Blue Angels perform 32 shows a year around the country and this weekend's show is only the fourth.
Doyle said the crowds really seem to appreciate the effort involved in making the Blue Angels the top military aerobatics squadron in the world.
"A pride in our country. A pride in our military," Doyle said. "I look at the Blue Angels as a small window into the Navy and Marine Corps in which people can come to an air show, see a little bit about what we do, and get a glimpse of the amazing men and women that are out there doing the job everyday."
You can meet the Blues Angels from 6:30-8:30 p.m. Friday night at Veterans Memorial High School. The event is free and open to the public.
Gates open at 8:30 a.m. Saturday and Sunday for the Wings Over South Texas Air Show, with the show starting both days at noon.