It was 1986 when a young Sammy Holmes first witnessed the Blue Angels soaring above Andrews Air Force Base in his native Maryland.
“It was a childhood dream of mine” to work with the Navy’s premier flight demonstration squad, he said. Holmes gets to wear the traditional blue-and-gold garb donned by members of the Blue Angels, but he realizes his job is one that Fleet Week air show attendees will likely overlook.
As part of maintenance control, Holmes, 33, directs and manages maintenance on the F/A-18 Hornet aircraft. In layman’s terms, he acts as the trainer in the corner, assuring that his fighter is in peak condition before answering the bell for the next round.
“The maintenance team has a very vital role,” said Holmes, who has spent five years in the Navy. “The public is usually not aware of the maintenance aspect of flying. However, everybody in our command, as well as our officers, they understand the vital role we play in making sure that they are able to fly their show, and they are very grateful for that.”
But despite accomplishing his boyhood dream, the future looked uncertain after Holmes graduated from high school.
“I was pretty unsure about what I wanted to do with myself,” he said. “I had a couple of dead-end jobs and finally landed myself a position working at Baltimore-Washington International Airport.”
After a six-year stint there, Holmes opted for a “change” and decided to continue his education in aviation.
“I felt that the Navy was the best career path for me to do that with,” he said. “I have been blessed in my Navy career in a very short time to make it to this level of perfection.”