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Blue Angels deliver commanding performance

Staff Sgt. Miranda Skiles interviews Cmdr. Greg McWherter, flight leader and commanding officer of the Navy Blue Angels flight demonstration team.
(U.S. Air Force Photo by Master Sgt Chris Stewart)

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. -- Staff Sgt. Miranda Skiles interviews Cmdr. Greg McWherter, flight leader and commanding officer of the Navy Blue Angels flight demonstration team. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Master Sgt Chris Stewart)

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. -- F-18s from the Navy's Blue Angels demonstration team arrive at Joe Foss Field in Sioux Falls, S.D. July 22, 2009 for the Sioux Falls Air Show here July 25 and 26.

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. -- F-18s from the Navy's Blue Angels demonstration team arrive at Joe Foss Field in Sioux Falls, S.D. July 22, 2009 for the Sioux Falls Air Show here July 25 and 26. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Quinton Young)

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. -- One of two F-22 Raptors from the United States Air Force F-22 Raptor demonstration team maneuvers for a smooth landing at Joe Foss Field here during their arrival July 23 in support of the Sioux Falls Airshow. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Quinton Young)

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. -- One of two F-22 Raptors from the United States Air Force F-22 Raptor demonstration team maneuvers for a smooth landing at Joe Foss Field here during their arrival July 23 in support of the Sioux Falls Airshow. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Quinton Young)

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. -- Work got you feeling stressed? Do you think you have a high pressure job? Well try being responsible for a squadron of 10 F-18 jets, one C-130, and approximately 120 Navy and Marine Corps volunteers all while cruising along at 700 mph up to 15,000 feet above the ground! 

For Cmdr. Greg McWherter, flight leader and commanding officer of the Navy Blue Angels flight demonstration team that is all in a days work. 

Fresh off their performance in Ypsilanti, Mich., the Blue Angels headline the 2009 Sioux Falls Airshow in Sioux Falls, S.D. From there, they will head to Seattle, Wash. The Blue Angels are scheduled to perform 68 shows at 35 sites throughout the U.S. in 2009. 

McWherter, who flies the Number 1 jet, describes the dedication, hard work and training put forth by the members of the Navy's Blue Angels. 

"We train three times a day, six times a week from January to March in California before the show season kicks off mid-March and runs through November." This rigorous schedule keeps the Angels away from their home base in Pensacola, Fla. for most of the year. 

The Angels spend the majority of their time away from friends and family. McWherter says that family members sometimes travel to show sites around the country to watch them perform. However, most of their time at the show sites is booked full so they still don't get to spend much time with their visitors. 

For that reason, McWherter says his favorite place to fly is anywhere close to their home base. "We get to go home and relax for a few days before we head out to a different location," he says. 

McWherter, also known as "The Boss," assumed command of the Blue Angels in November 2008. 

The prerequisites for the commander position include at least 3,000 tactical jet flight-hours. The candidate must have also commanded a tactical jet squadron. 

The commanding officer is chosen by the chief of naval air training and a panel of former Blue Angel commanders. McWherter jokingly describes the process as, "a real no pressure type of interview." 

As the expression goes, "It's a tough job, but somebody's got to do it." And if you ask any of the 455 million fans who have watched a Blue Angels performance since they started out in 1946, America is glad the Angels do their job. 

So the next time you feel like you've got it rough, just be thankful you don't have to fly across the country to have your performance critiqued by thousands of on-lookers.

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