Gift for Blue Angels to Be Displayed at Headquarters
The U.S. Navy Blue Angels Headquarters in Pensacola, Florida, will have a piece of Toombs County displayed in their facility as a gift from Vidalia Onion Festival Chairman Andy Woodruff, Vidalia Mayor Doug Roper, and Toombs County High School. “In the first part of the year, Lt. Griffin Stangel (Blue Angel 7) and Lt. Katlin Forster (Blue Angel 8) were supposed to come to Vidalia for a site visit leading up to the Onion Festival Air Show. When they arrived, Lt. Stangel was not with Lt. Forster and we learned the reason why was he had suffered a broken collarbone due to a bicycle accident,” Roper explained. “Onion Festival Chairman Andy Woodruff and I immediately began toying around with the idea of having a little fun with Lt. Stangel when the team arrived for the festival.”
In this effort, Roper and Woodruff came up with the idea of gifting Lt. Stangel a tricycle to poke fun at the pilot’s recent accident. “We cleared our idea with the Blues to make sure we would not be crossing any lines and they absolutely loved the idea,” he shared. “We purchased a tricycle and enlisted the help of the Toombs County School System. Their Ag Mechanics and TSA Engineering classes worked together to transform the tricycle with a Blue Angel paint job, lettering and fabricated wings.” Toombs County High School Agricultural Teacher Chasity Denmark Knight also spoke on the project. “It was actually a pink tricycle that we made the project from,” she said with a laugh. “My students had to completely sand it down by hand to turn it blue, and we used our plasma machine to attach the wings on the back.”
Knight said that the TSA Engineering class within the school had a machine with the capability to create the decals for the numbers of the jet, so the classes paired up to make this creation.
“We even added a small decal on the back that said ‘Toombs County High School,’ because it was both classes together that made this mini Blue Angel,” she added. The tricycle was presented to Lt. Stangel at the Vidalia Onion Festival Opening Ceremonies on Friday night by Roper, Woodruff, and 2023 Vidalia Onion Festival Chairman Jake Cleghorn.
“To say the presentation was a hit would be an understatement,” Roper said. “The entire team loved the bike, and word has it, the team was transporting it back to Pensacola with them to their headquarters where it will be properly displayed.”
Knight also commented on the reception of the bike. “It is pretty amazing to think that something we built is going to be displayed in [the Blue Angels’] headquarters,” she said. “I’m proud of our students, and am very grateful to Mayor Roper and Mr. Woodruff for allowing us to be a part in this fun.”
Roper concluded, “I would like to thank Chairman Andy Woodruff, the students and staff from the Toombs County School System, and of course, the Blue Angels for allowing us to have some lighthearted fun with them while they were in town.”