Caitlin "Cait" Shields '11 August 1, 2019 10:26 AM updated: August 1, 2019 1:26 PM
The Air Force and Navy have added two Texas A&M former students to their prestigious flight demonstration squadrons, the Thunderbirds and the Blue Angels.
Marine Corps Maj. Frank Zastoupil '09 was selected as a demonstration pilot for the U.S. Navy's Blue Angels. U.S. Air Force Maj. Trevor Aldridge '08 was selected to fly for the Thunderbirds.
Both will join their respective 2020 demonstration season.
Assigned to the 493rd Fighter Squadron stationed at Royal Air Force Lakenheath in the United Kingdom, Aldridge has been selected as Thunderbird No. 2, the team’s left wing pilot. He will fly as close as 3 feet from the No. 1 jet during flight formations, the Air Force said. While at A&M, he was in Squadrons 8 and 21 in the Corps of Cadets.
“No matter where you are in the world, when you find another Aggie, there is an immediate bond unlike any other university I’ve seen," Aldridge said in an interview with The Eagle. "Outsiders don’t understand it, but for those that have been to Midnight Yell, the Bonfire Memorial at dusk, Silver Taps and Muster, there is more to A&M than other universities have — something that can never really be told.”
Zastoupil is a F-35 Lightning II pilot currently assigned to the “Warlords” of Marine Fighter Attack Training Squadron 501 based at Marine Corps Air Station in Beaufort, South Carolina.
“I loved the culture that A&M and Aggieland had,” he said in an interview with The Eagle. “A&M and the mentors I had there helped me every step of the way.”
The Blue Angels are currently under the leadership of an Aggie, Cmdr. Eric Doyle '95, who has been the commanding officer and flight leader for the 2018 and 2019 show seasons. Read more about him here.
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