Blue Angels Announce 2017 Officers

July 16th, 2016

PENSACOLA, Fla. (NNS) -- U.S. Navy Flight Demonstration Squadron, the Blue Angels, announced officers selected for the 2017 air show season, July 16.

The squadron selected three F/A-18 demonstration pilots, events coordinator, C-130 demonstration pilot, flight surgeon, supply officer, and administration officer to join a previously selected executive officer on the 2017 team.

Each officer was recommended for selection by Chief of Naval Air Training Rear Adm. Dell Bull, and ultimately approved by Chief of Naval Air Forces Vice Adm. Mike Shoemaker, for final selection to the 2017 Blue Angels team.

Many highly qualified Navy and Marine Corps officers submit applications to join the Blue Angels each year.

"It is such a privilege to have so many talented officers apply to be part of the Blue Angels tradition of showcasing the Navy and Marine Corps to the American public," said Cmdr. Ryan Bernacchi, flight leader and commanding officer of the 2016 team. "I am inspired by all of those who applied this year and we have an exceptional group to add to next year's team."

The Blue Angels select "finalists" to interview at the team's home base of Naval Air Station (NAS) Pensacola, Florida, during the week of the Pensacola Beach Air Show each year. The team makes selections at the conclusion of that week.

"We were extremely fortunate to have so many qualified and motivated applicants apply for the team," said Lt. Matt Suyderhoud, right wing pilot and applications officer for the 2017 team selection. "I am excited to see what next year's team will be able to accomplish."

The newly selected 2017 officers include:

F/A-18 Demonstration Pilots:

Navy Lt. Brandon Hempler, 32, of Wamego, Kansas, is an F/A-18 Super Hornet pilot currently assigned to Training Squadron (VT) 22, the "Golden Eagles," at NAS Kingsville, Texas. He is a 2007 graduate of Kansas State University, Salina, Kansas.

Navy Lt. Damon Kroes, 34, of Fremont, California, is an F/A-18 Hornet instructor pilot currently assigned to Marine Fighter Attack Training Squadron (VMFAT) 101, the "Sharpshooters," at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, California. He is a 2006 graduate of San Diego State University, San Diego.

Navy Lt. Nate Scott, 31, of Danville, California, is an F/A-18 Hornet instructor pilot currently assigned to Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 106, the "Gladiators," at NAS Oceana, Virginia. He is a 2007 graduate of the University of Southern California, Los Angeles.

Events Coordinator:

Navy Lt. Dave Steppe, 31, of Birmingham, Alabama, is an EA-18G Growler naval flight officer currently assigned to Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) 129, the "Vikings," at NAS Whidbey Island, Washington. He is a 2008 graduate of Auburn University, Auburn, Alabama.

C-130 Demonstration Pilot:

Marine Capt. Kyle Maschner, 33, of Scottsdale, Arizona, is a KC-130 Hercules pilot currently assigned to 1st Marine Aircraft Wing in Okinawa, Japan. He is a 2006 graduate of Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff, Arizona.

Flight Surgeon:

Navy Lt. Juan Guerra, 31, of Ocala, Florida, is a flight surgeon currently assigned to Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 106, the "Gladiators," at NAS Oceana, Virginia. He is a 2011 graduate of the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences School of Medicine, Bethesda, Maryland.

Supply Officer:

Navy Lt. Bryan Pace, 32, of Fitzwilliam, New Hampshire, is a supply officer currently assigned to Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 101, the "Grim Reapers," at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida. He is a 2010 graduate of the University of Massachusetts Amherst, Amherst, Massachusetts.

Administration Officer:

Navy Lt. j.g. Timothy Hawkins, 37, of Scranton, Pennsylvania, is an administrative officer currently assigned to Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 143, the "Pukin' Dogs," at NAS Oceana, Virginia. He was commissioned through the Limited Duty Officer Program in 2013.

Pre-selected to join the 2017 team was:

Executive Officer:


Navy Cmdr. Matt Kaslik, 43, of The Woodlands, Texas.

Expected to return for the 2017 season are:

Commanding Officer, Flight Leader:

Navy Cmdr. Ryan Bernacchi, 43, of Los Altos, California.

F/A-18 Demonstration Pilots:

Navy Lt. Lance Benson, 33, of McPherson, Kansas.
Navy Lt. Tyler Davies, 34, of Kennesaw, Georgia.
Navy Cmdr. Frank Weisser, 38, of Atlanta.

C-130 Demonstration Pilots:

Marine Maj. Mark Hamilton, 38, of Becker, Minnesota.
Marine Maj. Mark Montgomery, 37, of Cartersville, Georgia.

Maintenance Officer:

Navy Lt. Samuel Rose, 36, of Whitehouse, Texas.

Public Affairs Officer:

Navy Lt. Joe Hontz, 38, of Longmont, Colorado.

The mission of the Blue Angels is to showcase the pride and professionalism of the United States Navy and Marine Corps by inspiring a culture of excellence and service to country through flight demonstrations and community outreach.

For more information, contact Blue Angels Public Affairs at (850)452-3955 or bapao@navy.mil.

For more information, visit http://www.navy.mil/, http://www.facebook.com/usnavy/, orhttp://www.twitter.com/usnavy/.

For more news from Navy Blue Angels, visit http://www.navy.mil/local/blueangels/.

Manfred Radius to Receive 2016 Bill Barber Award for Showmanship

June 30th, 2016

EAST TROY, WISCONSIN -- World Airshow News today announced that a long-time ICAS member will receive one of the air show industry’s highest honors July 26, during ... See More

Thunderbirds Announce 2017 Officer Selections

June 21st, 2016

NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. — The commander of Air Combat Command, Gen. Herbert Carlisle, has officially selected the officers who will be joining the United States Air Force Thunderbirds for ... See More

Blue Angels Announce New 2017 - 2018 Executive Officer

May 23rd, 2016

PENSACOLA, Fla. - The U.S. Navy Blue Angels today announced the selection of their new Executive Officer for the 2017 - 2018 air show seasons.


The Chief of Naval Air ... See More

ICAS Opens Registration for 2016 Convention

May 18th, 2016

LEESBURG, Va. - ICAS headquarters opened registration for its 2016 convention today just as air show season gets into full swing. See More

Nominations Open for 2016 ICAS Foundation Air Show Hall of Fame

May 11th, 2016

LEESBURG, Va. - The ICAS Foundation Air Show Hall of Fame is currently home to more than 50 air show greats including pilots, aerobatic performers, producers, announcers, designers, builders, and ... See More

NAVCO Confirms 2016 TACDEMO Schedule

May 2nd, 2016

The U.S. Navy Office of Community Outreach (NAVCO) today at 3:30 p.m. ET has confirmed the 2016 airshow schedule for its F-18C Hornet and F/A-18F Super Hornet demonstration teams. See More

General Aviation Community Praises FAA Part 23 Rulemaking and Urges Rule Completion in 2016

May 2nd, 2016

Washington, D.C. - On the eve of an FAA public hearing in College Park, Georgia on the Part 23 Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM), a coalition of general aviation leaders today ... See More

F-35 Appearing at 14 Air Shows in 2016

March 10th, 2016

LEESBURG, Va. - The U.S. Air Force’s Air Combat Command (ACC) Aerial Events office released its 2016 F-35 Lightning air ... See More

U.S. Air Force Releases F-16 Viper, F-22 Raptor Demonstration Teams' 2016 Schedules

February 23rd, 2016

LEESBURG, Va. - The U.S. Air Force’s Air Combat Command (ACC) Aerial Events office this morning released their ... See More

Federal Agencies Recognized by ICAS for Facilitating Arsenal of Democracy Flyover

February 11th, 2016

WASHINGTON - Last December, during the 2015 ICAS Convention Chairman’s Banquet in Las Vegas, the ICAS Board of Directors presented a number of federal agencies with the prestigious ICAS ... See More

Navy Tailhook Legacy Flight Foundation Debuts

February 2nd, 2016

Cleveland, Ohio – The Navy Tailhook Legacy Flight Foundation (NTLFF), a civilian nonprofit organization and a funding source for the U.S. Navy Tailhook Legacy Flight ... See More