By The Leader Staff
Lt. Wesley Perkins
Lt. Wesley Perkins

A native of Texas who learned to fly at an early age, he decided to turn his aviation dreams into a career by joining the United States Navy – where like many young aviation enthusiasts, he longed to pilot the sleekest and the fastest airplanes in the world.

And that’s just what Naval Air Station Lemoore’s Wes Perkins did.

After graduating from Texas A&M in 2014, the tall, friendly Perkins, raised in Texas (born in Italy, where his father served in the Army),  joined the United States Navy to fly jets. He soon found himself at Lemoore Naval Air Station Lemoore, where it just so happens the Navy has plenty of high-performance aircraft –  the best in the world.

Lt. Perkins obviously likes it here in Lemoore. He married a local gal (Lindsey Madrigal), and the handsome couple was recently awarded with a happy, rambunctious baby boy, Jesse Perkins, who no doubt, like his high-flying father, will share a cockpit with the accomplished aviator, and at some point, in his young life, will likely be handed the controls.

While the elder Perkins is already one of the most accomplished aviators in the military, he still wanted more. And that was to fly with the Blue Angels.

And on Sunday, his ambitions were rewarded.  

“My family and I are so incredibly excited and humbled about the opportunity to support the mission of the Blue Angels alongside this amazing team,” he said. “We look forward to this next chapter in our lives, and we cannot thank our friends and family enough for all the continued love and support over the years.”

The U.S. Navy announced that the Navy Flight Demonstration Squadron, the Blue Angels, selected seven new officers to join the team for the 2024 air show season, and one of them was Perkins, the only Lemoore aviator selected.

The Blue Angels squadron selected three F/A-18E/F Super Hornet pilots, a C-130J Super Hercules pilot, an aviation maintenance officer, a supply officer, and a public affairs officer to replace outgoing team members.

By the start of the 2024 show season, these seven officers will join the ranks of the U.S. Navy’s most elite aviation officers, ground support officers, and enlisted maintenance personnel already serving on the team.

“The Blue Angels have established an unmatched culture of excellence over the past 77 years,” said Cdr. Alex Armatas, commanding officer and flight leader of the Blue Angels. “We are thrilled to welcome our newest team members and look forward to the opportunity to represent the United States Navy and Marine Corps in 2024 and beyond.”

Even getting considered a Blue Angel is a demanding process. Each year, the Blue Angels select finalists to interview at the team’s home base of Naval Air Station (NAS) Pensacola, Fla., during the week of the Pensacola Beach Air Show; selections are made at the conclusion of that week. This year’s Pensacola Beach Air Show took place July 6-8.

Local NAS Lemoore aviator picked to join the Navy's Blue Angels' team

In addition to Lemoore’s Wes Perkins, other selections include:

F/A-18E/F Demonstration Pilots:

- Lt. Cmdr. Jack Keilty from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, is currently assigned to Strike Fighter Squadron 211 (VFA-211). He graduated from Virginia Military Institute in 2010.

- Lt. Connor O’Donnell from Freeport, Maine, is currently assigned to Training Squadron Eight Six (VT-86). He graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 2015.

C-130J Demonstration Pilot:

- Capt. Isaac Becker from Austin, Texas, is currently assigned to Marine Transport Squadron 152 (VMR-152). He graduated from Colorado College in 2017.

Maintenance Officer:

- Lt. Natalia Luchetti, from Mayaguez, Puerto Rico, is currently assigned to Special Projects Patrol Squadron TWO (VPU-2). She graduated from Thomas Edison University.

Supply Officer:

- Lt.j.g. Mara Mason, from Tipp City, Ohio, is currently assigned to Helicopter Mine Countermeasures Fourteen (HM-14). She graduated from Ohio State University in 2018.

Public Affairs Officer:

- Lt. Ben Bushong, from Hagerstown, Maryland, is currently assigned to USS Nimitz (CVN 68). He graduated from North Carolina State University in 2012.

Lemoore’s Perkins and the other team members are due to report to the squadron in September for a two-month turnover period. After completing the 2023 show season, which concludes in November with the Blue Angels Homecoming Air Show at NAS Pensacola, the team will embark on a rigorous five-month training program at NAS Pensacola and Naval Air Facility El Centro, Calif.

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