March 1982

 Letter to the Editor from Butch Voris, Captain, USN (Ret.)

Published in the March 1982 issue of Naval Aviation News
Author Unknown Photo Credit: Al Muckenheide


The tragic loss of four Air Force Thunderbirds is of deep and grave concern, with possible negative consequence not only to the U.S. Air Force, but to our country.

As one might expect, and as has happened often in the past, a loss by the Thunderbirds or the Navy's Blue Angels brings forth those who would call for disbanding these fine organizations in the name of safety and savings. Yet, for reasons best known to themselves, there will be nary a whimper over millions spent on projects of questionable value to the nation.

The men who died in the accident were four of our nation's finest military pilots who gave their lives in the service of their country no less so than if they had died in combat. Like other professional military men and women, they fully understood and accepted the risks involved. Theirs was the pursuit of professional excellence and in this they strove to set the highest standards of performance to which others might aspire, to the ultimate benefit of all.

Millions of Americans, young and old, have been awed and inspired by the performance of the Thunderbirds. Their purpose and that of the Blue Angels has not been to carnivalize military aviation but to project pride in one's country, competence in one's chosen profession and to motivate those who must follow.

Americans have good reason to be proud of the military pilots who serve this nation and they should continue to have an opportunity to see them perform at their best. The death of four fine men is immeasurable in human terms and the destruction of four aircraft is a significant loss. Still, in an era which sometimes seems short on pride, purpose and dedication, let us hope that we will not be stampeded into abandoning a tradition which helps to instill these qualities in our young aviators and symbolizes so well the vital and moving spirit of America.

Butch Voris, Captain, USN(Ret.)


NANews Editor's Note: Captain Voris is a Navy Ace, the originator of the Blue Angels and the 1st and 5th leader of the Navy team.