Wednesday, September 15, 2010
Into the Blue Skies
Former Blue Angel and SDSU alumnus Paul Brantuas inspires young people to take to the skies.
Lt. Cmdr. Paul Brantus
Lt. Cmdr. Paul Brantuas, ’97, had a typical young man’s reaction to the military jets that flew maneuvers over his University City High School—“I wish I could do that.”
Although his dad was a Navy pilot, Brantuas convinced himself he could never reach those heights. He chose a more traditional path, majoring in information and decision systems within the College of Business Administration. But as Brantuas neared graduation, his life took a different turn.
Fast forward 10 years and not only is Brantuas a Navy pilot like his dad, he is also an alumnus of the Blue Angels, a squadron whose daring choreography in air shows all across America has inspired countless young men to take to the skies.
Brantuas flew right wing for the Blue Angels in 2008 and 2009, working about 35 show sites each year from the East Coast to the West Coast, including Canada. It was a grueling schedule. During the March-November show season, the team practiced Tuesday through Friday and performed Saturday and Sunday.
On Friday mornings, team members visited local high schools in their “host” cities to talk up the virtues of a military career. Recruitment is the Blue Angels’ number one mission and has been almost since the group’s formation in 1946 by then-Chief of Naval Operations Chester W. Nimitz. Over the years, nearly 470 million people have watched the squadrons perform their breathtaking aerial feats.
It takes a certain personality type to fly for the Blue Angels. Confident, driven, adventurous, personable—the pilots are all this and more. “Not everyone is interested,” Brantuas said, “but I wanted to know if I could rise to the challenge. I saw it as an opportunity to travel the country, meet all kinds of people and have fun.”
After leaving the Blue Angels at the end of the 2009 season (team members serve two to three years), Brantuas rejoined his squadron in the Arabian Sea to support Operation Enduring Freedom. It was reminiscent of his first cruise from July 2002 through May 2003 aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln.
“That was the longest carrier deployment in more than 30 years,” Brantuas recalled. “We were on our way home after six months when we got turned around to support what would be known as Operation Iraqi Freedom. It was a great experience for a first tour pilot.”
Currently, Brantuas is on a department head tour with VFA-86 at Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort in South Carolina with his wife and young son, Wyatt.
The 2010 MCAS Miramar Air Show, featuring the Blue Angels, begins on Oct. 1.
The video embedded in this story is used courtesy of Incredible World Views and can also be viewed here.