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July 19, 2012 06:05 PM

Blue Angels: Normal People, Extraordinary Job

sioux falls, sd

You'll notice a roar in the skies over Sioux Falls this weekend. That’s because the Sioux Falls Airshow is coming to town.

Lt C.J. Simonsen is Blue Angel pilot number five. It's his third year with the Angels and getting to where he is, is no easy task.

"We require 1,250 hours to apply for the team and then when you're selected to the team the training process is ridiculous,” Simonsen said. “We go to El Centro, California for three months, from January to March and we are flying 15 times a week, Monday through Saturday."

Over those three months they fine tune their performance to perfection. They take to the skies across the country, focusing on the heartland where the Navy doesn't have much of a presence.

"It's such an important part in the recruitment for the Navy and the Marine Corps because the average tax payer in Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota doesn't get a chance to see their men in uniform at work, especially Navy folks," Simonsen said.

Many kids and young people look to the Blue Angels as super heroes of sorts. Lt. Simonsen says they're just normal people with an extraordinary job.

"We're normal Navy pilots that get to put on a blue flight suit for two or thee years and perform for the United States of America and 550,000 Sailors and Marines worldwide," Simonsen said.

It may be a grueling job, but it has high flying rewards.

Simonsen is originally from Coon Rapids, Minnesota. And his immediate family is traveling to Sioux Falls for the show. He even has extended family flying in from Norway.

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  • Sioux Falls, SD
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