20mm: You’re flying the number 1 slot. Tell us about that, what kinds of responsibility do you have? What are comms like to the other pilots during the course of a show?
Rhino: Believe it or not, flying lead through the “demo” is no easy feat. My basic responsibility is to lead the diamond and delta formations through the demo as smoothly and as consistently time and time again as possible. It’s important to do this so the 5 guys who are flying off my wing and hanging on to every word I say can have a great flight and as a group we look like 1 plane.
The comms are based off of the Blues real world comms, with some added “flavor” to allow for our sim.
20mm: Take us through the various flight positions and who these folks are.
Rhino: Sure, here are the assignments:
- Flying Virtual Blue Angel #1, the Flight Leader, from Macomb, Illinois, Nathan “Rhino” Truninger.
- Flying Virtual Blue Angel #2, the right wingman, from LaPorte, Texas, Johnny “Tex” Scott.
- Flying Virtual Blue Angel #3, the left wingman, from Orlando, Florida, Ruffy “Talon” Rios.
- Flying Virtual Blue Angel #4, the slot pilot and Marine Corps representative in the delta formation, the commanding officer of the VBA, from Platteville, Wisconsin, Bob “Kato” Tyler.
- Flying Virtual Blue Angel #5, the lead solo from Victoria, Australia, Michael “Shifty” MacFarlane.
- Flying Virtual Blue Angel #6, the opposing solo from Schererville, Indiana, Jonathan “Harm”Jackson.
- The Narrator for the Virtual Blue Angels is Virtual Blue Angel #7, Aaron “Beaker” Vanada, from Monument, Colorado.
- The Events Coordinator is Tomasz “Sko” Kumor from Denver, Colorado.
- The Maintenance Officer is Tom “Racer” Mihelich, from Troy, Michigan.
- The Flight Surgeon is from Mount Juliet, TN, Colin “Velo” Levy
- Our technical advisor, and Blue Angel Alumnus, from Middletown, New Jersey, Fred “Stank” Stankovich.
- And our Fat Albert Pilot and public affairs officer, from Mississauga, Ontario, Michelle “Kwibi” Hayashi.
20mm: I understand the flying roles, but what does a Maintenance Officer for the Virtual Blues and the Flight Surgeon do for the VBA?
Rhino: The Maintenance Officer, or “MO” in Blues nomenclature, serves as the in flight safety officer. “MO” looks to make sure that someone does not have their smoke on when they shouldn’t, calls where the solo “hits” were placed (right on center point, left, right, high, low, etc.). He’s really our eyes and ears on the ground looking up while we’re in the air. The flight surgeon’s job is to watch the flight as an observer, and take notes of things that may not have looked how they should from the ground, or “safeties”. During our debrief, he will bring these “safeties” up and we will discuss them, if already not discussed as a “safety” by one of the pilots.