More than 15 million people saw the Blue Angels during the 2001 show season. The number includes the fact that several air shows were canceled after the Sept. 11 attacks.
The crowds at air shows increased, many times doubling, after Sept. 11, Blue Angels public affairs officer Lt. Mike Blankenship said.
The first show the Angels flew after Sept. 11 was in Fort Worth, Texas. The Navy expected 50,000 people but more than 100,000 attended the show and that number does not reflect the crowd outside the air field, Blankenship said.
"There is a renewed sense of patriotism. We saw similar crowds at every show after that," he said.
The Blue Angels last show was at Pensacola Beach. The Navy expected over 100,000 spectators but had over 300,000, Blankenship said.
It's motivating to the pilots and ground crew when they see a crowd that big, Blankenship said. It makes the team feel good about being in uniform and being American, he said.
The Blue Angels' show schedule begins March 9 at NAF El Centro and ends in November at Pensacola.
>> Staff Writer Laura Mitchell can be reached at 337-3452 or firstname.lastname@example.org