SPIRIT OF ALABAMA: David Tickle and the Blue Angels - Alabamas13.com WVTM-TV Birmingham, AL

SPIRIT OF ALABAMA: David Tickle and the Blue Angels

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PENSACOLA, FL -

Right After World War II, the US Navy Flight Demonstration squadron was created – today, they're commonly referred to as the Blue Angels.

Their mission was to demonstrate the precision, speed, training and teamwork that navy pilots must have to fly missions during times of peace and war.

Lt. Cmdr. David Tickle was born and raised in Jefferson County, but serves a member of this Blue Angel team.

Everything they do is done with precision, whether it's by the pilots, the crew -- six officers and 124 enlisted personnel make up the Blue Angels flight demonstration squadron.

One of the Blue Angel pilots graduated from the Jefferson County International Baccalaureate school -- then the US Naval Academy.

When kids dream of flying, they might dream of flying with the very best and the very best in aviation are the Blue Angels headquartered here at Naval Air Station Pensacola.

"I can remember growing up, I used to come down to the beach, we used to vacation over in Perdido Key, which isn't too far from here. I used to watch the Blue Angels fly, and I didn't know who it was or what it was," David explained.

Little did he know that his solid education and acceptance to the Naval Academy would take him to the skies with some of the Navy's finest pilots.

"I get to fly these awesome F-18's that you see over my shoulder, and at the same time when I'm finished I get to go to the crowd line and I get to sign autographs and take pictures with these little kids. You see the 6-year-old kid that looks at you and they just have the biggest smile on their face and they want to know what it's like to fly this F-18," he said.

As great as the flying is, David said meeting the people who come to Pensacola to meet the pilots and visit the Naval Museum is the most important part of his job.

So, how does one of the eager 6-year-olds become a Blue Angel when they grow up?

"It's education, you can't get here without education," Dave said. "You can't just try to squeak by, 'Oh, I can get C's and D's and not listen to my teacher.' You gotta stay in school, you gotta do well. Guess what: Everyone that wants to do this did well in school, so you have to set yourself apart. Not only do you have to do well, study hard, set goals for yourself and achieve them and don't let anyone tell you no." 

Most every father has given that advice, but coming from a Blue Angel pilot it just might carry extra weight.  After having their show schedule canceled for this year, the Blue Angels hope to get back in the skies and do their full 2014 demonstration schedule. But, for now, they train and prepare and still meet the thousands who come to see them in Pensacola. They're always looking for good people who want to join them.

"The opportunities are endless, and there's no one path that says 'this is the path that thou shalt take, and if you go this way it can't happen.' Mo, no, no that's the beauty of the Navy and Marine corps, we take people from varied backgrounds and we can all serve together," Dave explained.

And yet, for a few who dream dreams of flying with the Angels, the skies are waiting. From Pensacola, Fla., that's the spirit of Alabama.

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