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The U.S. Navy’s Blue Angels take enormous pride in demonstrating their precision-flying skills at numerous air shows throughout the year.
But on a visit late last month to the St. Louis Boeing site, the aircrew had a chance to do something they’ve looked forward to all year, and it didn’t involve executing a single flight maneuver.
The elite flight team spent a day touring the production line where their F/A-18 Hornet jets were built and interacting with the Boeing employees who work on the F/A-18 line.
“This is a big thrill for the team,” said Blue Angels Cmdr. Greg McWherter. “Literally, our men and women claw and scrape to get on to this trip.”
The pride the Blue Angels feel behind the stick of the F/A-18 is matched only by those who build the airplane. For two Boeing employees, that pride runs in the family.
Johnny Provine, a flight-line mechanic, has worked on every model of the F/A-18 during his nearly 30 years at Boeing. The highlight of his career, however, is the opportunity he gets everyday to work alongside his son Clayton, also a flight-line mechanic.
Inspired on a visit with his father to the F/A-18 production facility while still in high school, the younger Provine was determined the follow his dad’s career path.
“As we were leaving, I was like, What’s it take to work here? I have to do this,” he said.
Both father and son were excited to meet the Blue Angel team who push the F/A-18 to its limits. Likewise, the Blue Angels shared the mutual admiration for those who build the planes they depend on day in and out.
“It’s actually really rewarding to see the look on their faces when we walk in the door,” McWherter said. “They are thanking us for our service but we in turn are thanking them for their service because their efforts go into exactly what we do on a daily basis. We love it.”