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Air show announcer Rob Reider flew in his private plane from an airport near Cincinnati, just before the F/A-18 landed to welcome Webb and team events coordinator Lt. Dave Steppe, 32, of Birmingham, Ala. The Blue Angels met with air show organizers in advance of the event that attracts tens of thousands of spectators.
Named an honorary Blue Angel, Reider works with the team narrator as the Navy flight team trains during the winter at Naval Air Facility El Centro, California.
“When I’ve got friends coming in the neighborhood, I want to see them,” said Reider, 69, who lives in Loveland, Ohio. “I’m the oldest 10-year-old kid in the air show business.”
The Dayton Air Show has been without a headline military jet team the past two seasons after incidents grounded both the Blue Angels and the Air Force Thunderbirds from performing in Dayton.
“We’ve pulled it off without a jet team and still had a quality show, but it’s the centerpiece” of the aerial event, said Scott Buchanan, air show chairman. “It will be very good to have a jet team back.”
RELATED: Excessive speed blamed for Thunderbird jet crash in Dayton
Last June, the Thunderbirds canceled appearances in Dayton after a two-seat Thunderbirds F-16D jet slid off a wet runway and flipped over in a grassy area at Dayton International Airport, trapping the narrator/pilot and a crew member a day before the weekend show was set to begin. The pilot, who suffered leg injuries, was hospitalized for several days at Miami Valley Hospital. In an accident investigation report released this month, the Air Force said excessive speed and landing too far down the runway contributed to the mishap.
In 2016, the Blue Angels canceled several performances, including in Dayton, after a fatal crash killed a pilot during a practice air show in Tennessee.
Years the renowned jet teams do not appear tend to push attendance lower, organizers have said. The air show drew an estimated 44,000 spectators this year and 51,000 in 2016.
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