Chatsworth native Joshua Granger is sure that the next three years are going to be full of excitement.
Granger, a U.S. Navy AME1 (AW) or Navy Aviation Structural Mechanic, recently earned his crest as one of the newest Blue Angels, the United States Navy’s elite Flight Demonstration Squadron, who also represent the US Marine Corps.
“It’s pretty amazing,” said Granger, by phone from his current home base in Pensacola, Fla. “It’s sinking in that I’m now part of this very elite team.”
Granger works with the Blue Angels’ Life Support center. The Life Support work center is home to Navy Aviation Structural Mechanics - Safety Equipment technicians and Aircrew Survival Equipment technicians who maintain and repair the systems that support the life of the pilot in normal and emergency situations. These systems include air conditioning, avionics cooling, heating, liquid oxygen, and canopy and ejection seat emergency escape systems.
Granger and his Life Support teammates also maintain the personal flight gear each pilot must wear, such as helmets, oxygen masks, inflatable flotation devices, and ejection seat flight harnesses.
The 2009 Murray County High School graduate describes himself as “a big patriot” and enlisted in the Navy right out of high school. Granger’s wife Kayla, who he met in Chatsworth, and his daughter Emma live with him in Florida.
“I never dreamed of this growing up,” admitted Granger, who applied to be a part of the Blue Angels team in June of 2017. “I considered the National Guard at first but once I realized the Navy was for me, that was it.”
Granger has excelled at his specialty for eight years, working on P3 aircraft in Florida and P8 aircraft in Maryland. He says that opportunity in Pax River, Maryland was the catalyst for his current success.
“I got to lead 35 personnel there, and that leadership opportunity really got me motivated,” he said.
He also credits Murray County - and the people here who helped shape him - with a role in his success. His roots here run deep, thanks to parents Steve and Rita, and a brother who coaches at North Murray High School.
“I believe that my time wrestling at Murray County High helped prepare me for the military,” said Granger. “Coach Thornberry taught me a lot about discipline and teamwork.”
“But truthfully, I knew I was ready for something bigger than north Georgia in my life.”
Granger earned his Blue Angels Crest after several weeks of intensive training. Team members train in squadron history, procedures, teamwork and traditions in order to earn the crest.
All enlisted sailor or Marine applicants must be recommended for Blue Angel duty by their current commanding officer. Applicants go through extensive screening, including interviewing with the members of each of the 15 squadron work centers.
Selected enlisted personnel volunteer for a three-year tour with the squadron. After completing their Blue Angel tour, individuals return to the fleet to continue their naval careers.
The squadron consists of seven distinct departments, jointly responsible for guaranteeing command readiness. The Blue Angels have never canceled an air show due to a maintenance problem.
Since its inception, the Blue Angels team has flown for more than 450 million spectators worldwide.
The Blue Angels team is stationed at Forrest Sherman Field, Naval Air Station Pensacola, Florida, during the air show season. The squadron spends January through March training at Naval Air Facility El Centro, California.
The Blue Angels' enlisted maintenance and support team is comprised of approximately 100 Sailors and Marines. Alternating crews of about 45 team members travel to each show site.
The display performance of the "Blue Angels" Navy Flight Exhibition Team typically lasts about 40 minutes.
To perform the standard show, there must be a visibility at least 5500 meters (6015 yards or 18 045 feet) from the show center. If the lower limit of clouds is less than 450 meters (492 yards or 1476 feet), then the "Blue Angels" will postpone the show.
If the limit is between 450 meters (492 yards or 1476 feet) and 1050 meters (1148 yards or 3445 feet), they will perform a show with a limited number of maneuvers, mostly in a horizontal plane (i. e., without formation loops and rolls). This is known as a "flat" show.
If the lower limit is between 1050 meters (1148 yards or 3445 feet) and 2450 meters (2679 yards or 8038 feet) they perform a "Low" show including barrel rolls but again without loops. If the lower limit is above 2450 meters (2679 yards or 8038 feet) the "Blue Angels" can perform their full show.
The minimum distance between the display aircraft will always be between 1 meter (3.3 feet) and 1.5 meters (5 feet).
If one of the team pilots is sick for the time of the show, then the rest of pilots will fly without him. However, if the commander is not capable of flying, the show must be postponed. The "Blue Angels" (along with many other aerobatic teams) do not employ stand-by pilots because it would be challenging for any pilot to learn how to fly every single position in the formation.
During airshows the "Blue Angels" do not use G-suits which requires that the pilots are very well trained and know how and when to get in and out of specific maneuvers.
In one year, "Blue Angels" aircraft consume approximately 3,698,410 gallons of fuel.