Commander Ryan Bernacchi has taken over as the commanding officer (CO) of the U.S. Navy Flight Demonstration Squadron, better known as the Blue Angels.
Bernacchi relieved Captain Tom Frosch, the outgoing CO, in a change of command ceremony held Sunday at the National Naval Aviation Museum.
Bernacchi will serve as commanding officer and flight leader for the 2016 and 2017 Blue Angels air show seasons. As commanding officer, Bernacchi will lead a squadron of 130 personnel and serve as the demonstration flight leader, flying the #1 jet. The Blue Angels perform for 11 million people annually across the United States, and are scheduled to perform 69 shows in 36 locations for the 2016 season.
Bernacchi selected in May
Bernacchi was announced as the Blue Angels’ next CO in May after being chosen by a panel comprised of ten admirals and former commanding officers.
Applicants were required to have a minimum of 3,000 flight hours and be in current command or have had past command of a tactical jet squadron. “We prioritized selecting an officer who is an outstanding example of the pride and professionalism of the Navy and Marine Corps,” said Rear Adm. Roy Kelley, Chief of Naval Air Training, who led the selection committee. “Commander Bernacchi has a proven record of excellence and will be both a strong flight leader and commanding officer for the 2016 team.”
“It is an absolute honor to have been selected for this prestigious position,” said Cmdr. Bernacchi. “There is a legacy of tradition and excellence within the Blue Angels squadron, and I look forward to maintaining the high standard of excellence set before me by Captain Frosch.”
Well qualified for new role
Cmdr. Bernacchi, a native of Los Altos, California, joins the Blue Angels after serving as the federal executive fellow at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Boston. His previous assignments include five squadrons, where he flew the F/A-18 Hornet and deployed in support of Operations Southern Watch, Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom.
After graduating from the University of California, San Diego, Bernacchi received his commission through the Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps Program.
Bernacchi has more than 3,000 flight hours and 600 carrier-arrested landings. His decorations include a Meritorious Service Medal, Individual Air Medal (with combat V), three Strike/Flight Air Medals, four Navy Commendation Medals (one with combat V), three Navy Achievement Medals, as well as various campaign and unit awards.
Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Andrea Perez, U.S. Navy Flight Demonstration Squadron Public Affairs, contributed to this report.