Feature Story

Blue Angels show STEM spirit

Thousands watched in awe as the Blue Angels performed at the Spirit of St. Louis Air Show for the first time since 2007.

“My favorite part is looking up when the planes fly by and just hearing that loud noise, and everyone dropping their jaw. I think that’s really sweet,” said Hunter Hummell, a freshman from Principia High School in St. Louis, Missouri.

The close acrobatic maneuvers these pilots perform require more than just practice. Lt. Mark Tedrow, Blue Angels Opposing Solo, said the slightest error during flight can be detrimental.

“A lot of fuel calculations going on, a lot of air speed number calculations that we need to do real-time and have an understanding of to keep each other safe, and make sure we fly a safe demonstration for the public and for the pilots,” said Tedrow.

This year’s air show featured a STEM expo, giving students exposure to opportunities in military aviation. Hummell was one of many students that got a chance to fly in Boeing’s F/A-18 flight simulator.

“I always wanted to be a pilot, but I can’t because I’m color blind, so I try to find other things to do,” said Hummell.

Christian Hagenlocher, a biology teacher at Principia High School, said any STEM experience students can get is beneficial.

“Living in St. Louis we do have a good pool of resources, and it’s really great for them to be able to apply what they’re learning in school in a hands-on way.”

It’s just a student in a simulator today, but events like this one are shaping the aviators of tomorrow.

“I’m a firm believer that if you want something bad enough, and you work hard enough for it, it’s going to happen,” said Tedrow.