Full throttle flying with stomach dropping stunts and
dangerous diamond formations...
"It's tricky," says Major Brent Stevens. "It's a real fast paced kind of show."
It is the Blue Angels way and very few earn the wings.
"There have actually been more Astronauts than Blue Angels."
That reality is incredibly humbling for Knoxville native Major Brent Stevens-- the Blue Angels Left Wing.
"I absolutely love being the number 3 pilot. It's a dream come true to do this type of flying."
You see, since age six, his head's been stuck in the clouds.
"All those movies, 'Iron Eagle,' 'Top Gun,' I was a big fan. I was inspired. I wanted to be a pilot. That's all I ever wanted to do."
And from Cedar Bluff Elementary to Farragut High, Major Stevens stayed the course.
"I decorated the wall with space shuttle stuff, jet stuff, airplanes everywhere. I loved anything where I could go upside down, full G's."
Major Stevens graduated from UT Knoxville in 1999 and was commissioned Second Lieutenant in the Marine Corps. He went to flight school and training squadron.
"That's where I learned to fly the F-18."
Then, he was transferred to Marine Corps Air Station in Miramar, California.
"Where Top Gun used to be in San Diego. I spent a lot of time on a carrier. After that, I became an F-18 instructor."
A year ago, he was selected into the Blue Angels' elite flying force.
"This is my F18 Hornet. It's the exact same aircraft you'll see on the news that aviators are flying over in Afghanistan. They're operating them everyday. Ours are just slightly different. The most obvious being the paint job. This is home and I love every second of it!"
Major Stevens is the squadron's only Marine pilot.
"Somebody's got to keep them in line, so that's where the Marine comes in!"
And, he's also the only Blue Angel whose blood runs orange.
"If I go an entire season without seeing a football game I feel like I'm really missing out on Knoxville in general."
The Blue Angels keep a tight schedule, performing 70 plus shows in 34 cities each year. To say the crew is close is an understatement!
"The top of my canopy will be about 18 inches from the bottom of my boss' left wing, so that's extremely close. There's not a lot of room for error."
But there may be room for another generation of Stevens in the cockpit.
"I have a 2 1/2 year old daughter and she just loves to be thrown around and twirled in the air."
Major Brent Stevens, born in Knoxville,
"That's what I know and that's what I love and when I go back I'm home.
HomeGrown in Tennessee.