Andrew Walsh - Nights on KIRO Radio
Andrew Walsh
patriots jet team
The Patriots are an all-volunteer jet stunt team. Their pilots do this in their spare time, for fun, but they are former military guys, some who have flown with the Blue Angels, the Thunderbirds and the Snowbirds. (Image courtesy The Patriots Jet Team)

The Patriots are not the Blue Angels, get over it

Now that the sadness over the Blue Angels canceling their trip to Seafair is wearing off, it's time to start thinking about who is coming to fly over Lake Washington.

What is the Patriots Jet Team, and what does it do?

The Patriots are an all-volunteer jet stunt team. Their pilots do this in their spare time, for fun, but they are former military guys, some who have flown with the Blue Angels, the Thunderbirds and the Snowbirds.

Their L-39's are made in the Czech Republic. They are slower and smaller than the F/A 18 Super Hornets used by the Blues, with a top speed of about 450 miles an hour. "They're a single-engine jet trainer," lead pilot Dean Wright told KIRO Radio's Andrew Walsh. "They don't have all the avionics and weaponry that you're going to find on an airplane like the F/A-18 with the Blue Angels."

The jets don't have an after-burner, which means they certainly don't make as much noise, but Wright said they're still pretty loud.

The Patriots flew over Seafair in 2007 and 2008 as the appetizer for the Blues. This year, they are the main course, and Wright knows that is a disappointment for many. "It sucks that this has happened," he said. "It really does. The same thing has happened down here in the Bay Area with our own Fleet Week, but you know get out and enjoy the day, and we are going to do our best to entertain you and I guarantee you if you do come out you'll go home satisfied. Don't come expecting the Blue Angels or for us to try and mimic the Blue Angels because that's not what we do."

So what do the Patriots do?

They are a six plane team. They usually fly in three groups of two, and the L-39's slower speed means the planes don't need as much space to maneuver so they'll always be visible to the crowd. "We never disappear for a few minutes and then reappear," he said. "We're always in front of the crowd. We have great music. We have great narration. We have red, white and blue smoke. It's a very entertaining show."

The planes can also fly lower than the Blues. Wright said some of the stunts can take the planes down to 15 or 20 feet.

And there is also a Boeing connection to the L-39's the Patriots fly. The company provides support for the Czech manufacturer.

So Wright said there's a lot to like about his team, even though he knows it isn't Seafair's top choice. "If it's boo's or the baby's are crying or if people are loving us, it doesn't matter," Wright said. "We're going to be there, and we're going to fly the best show that we can, to be as entertaining as we possibly can. Our heart goes out to you because we know that it sucks to have the Blues taken away."

Chris Sullivan, KIRO Radio Reporter
Chris loves the rush of covering breaking news and works hard to try to make sense of it all while telling stories about real people in extraordinary circumstances.
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