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Defenders of Freedom Air Show set to soar again

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Photo: Video by kmtv.com

Defenders of Freedom Air Show set to soar again

By Justin Pazera. CREATED Jul 17, 2014

Offutt Air Force Base, Neb. -- The skill it takes to fly with the Blue Angels is incredible. Coming just inches from each other in mid-air, sometimes flying as low as 50-feet - the maneuvers are flawless.

But before any of the six F/A18s take off, they get a look over. It's just as precise as the show in the air. There is no room for error.

"Zero," said Robert Thompson. "From aircraft mechanic to the pilot in the seat, yes sir."

Thompson is an aviation structural mechanic, part of the elite Blue Angels. "We are what we like to say the best that applied for the team," said Thompson.

He's just one of dozens responsible for keeping the jets in working order.  "It's kind of funny though, the more we fly them the better shape they stay in," said Thompson.

Lt. Scott Adams is part of the Blue Angels team. He's an Omaha boy.

"I went to Millard North High School," said Adams. "Go Mustangs."

He's now a supply officer and knows the challenges of keeping an older jet safe and flying.

"These are the oldest F/A18s in the Navy Marine Corps inventory, so it takes a lot of hands and a lot of man hours to keep them up and running."

The jets aren't made anymore. They're about 30 years old, so sometimes finding the parts is part of the tricky maneuver.

All of the F/A18s were used in war. Now, they're sporting a fresh coat of blue and yellow paint and a little modification.  

"In the nose barrel, there's what we call a smoke tank, it's holds the smoke oil which produces the smoke that comes out of the tailpipe," said Thompson. "In the fleet, there's a 20-millimeter cannon."

So, some things have changed, but the crew says there's one thing that's constant, the dedication to the team and our country.