'The Blue Angels' docu offers stunning tribute to military aviators, Christian naval captain

'The Blue Angels'
"The Blue Angels" | Prime Video

"The Blue Angels," a new documentary about the Navy's flight demonstration team, both delivers a visual spectacle that immerses viewers in the high-octane world of the Blue Angels and highlights the beauty and sacrifice of military service. 

The Blue Angels have captivated audiences around the world for over 75 years with their precision flying and breathtaking aerial maneuvers. Now, a new documentary from Amazon MGM Studios and IMAX, "The Blue Angels," offers an unprecedented, behind-the-scenes look at the Navy's elite Flight Demonstration Squadron. 

The film, directed by Paul Crowder, provides never-before-seen footage that chronicles a year with the squadron from selection through training and the demanding show season. 

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The film primarily follows first-year pilots Chris “Cheese” Kapuschansky and Scott “Jamz” Goossens as they navigate the challenging choreography and high standards of the Blue Angels, along with Captain Brian Kesselring, the Commanding Officer and Flight Leader, known as "Boss," who shares insights into the rigors of leading the team. Notably, the documentary also introduces the Blue Angels' first-ever female pilot, Amanda Lee, marking a historic moment for the team.

Crowder, who spent a year with the squadron, from selection through training and the show season, told The Christian Post the experience was “life-changing.” 

“It changed my perception on a lot of things,” he said. “I was completely moved just by being around them … spending time on the base completely changed me. I'm a rebel at heart; I'm not someone who likes a bit of military or a bit of being told what to do, so I wasn't expecting myself to be so moved by people who are in the military and by their dedication to what they do and their cause. Watching the revelry go down in the mornings and people stopping their cars in the middle of junctions and getting out to salute the flag — those moments have an effect on you that I wasn't expecting. So I definitely came out a different person … it really was an incredible experience.”

Produced by Glenn Powell (“Top Gun”) and J.J. Abrams, “Blue Angels” features plenty of stunning aerial sequences, offering first-person perspectives from the pilots as they fly in close formation at high speeds. Through voiceovers and interviews, the pilots share their experiences, analyzing their performances in slow motion to perfect their techniques.

“I couldn't believe what I was watching the first time I saw them, the proximity and everything,” Crowder said. “But I was also thinking about the film, like, goodness, how do we capture this when such massive proximities, such massive planes are doing these incredible things? But it did.”

The film also highlights the personal sacrifices and strains on marriages and families due to the pilots being on the road for 300 days a year and the intense physical and mental demands placed on the Blue Angels. 

Being part of this elite team, the documentary emphasizes, comes at a cost. Though overall celebratory, it touches on the inherent risks of being a Blue Angel, referencing past tragedies such as the 2016 death of Captain Jeff Kuss. 

Capt. Greg "Boss" Wooldridge, who led the Blue Angels team during the 1991, 1993 and 1996 show seasons, was among those who nearly lost his life in a high-speed aerial maneuver.

Prior to being selected for the Blue Angels, Wooldridge participated in a dogfight practice over Southern California in an A-4 Skyhawk when he discovered his controls were unresponsive. The aircraft entered an inverted spin, a maneuver with no known recovery, and began plummeting toward the ground. It wasn’t until 500 feet above the ground that Woolridge was able to regain control and level out. 

Woolridge, who became a Christian seven years ago and has also survived cardiac arrest, told CP his journey from near-death experiences to a profound faith has shaped his outlook on life and his involvement in "The Blue Angels." Woolridge is both heavily featured in the film and served as one of the executive producers.

“I used to think I was just lucky,” Wooldridge reflected. “And then I had a cardiac arrest. I was the recipient of eight minutes of CPR and came out fine, no brain damage."

Today, Woolridge said he sees his journey as a blessing — and call to action — from the Lord.

“Not too long ago, I built a relationship with the Lord, and I realized He was saying, ‘Wooldridge, I'm not done with you. I need you out there to do some stuff. We need to bring some people on board.’ That’s been part of my journey, and it’s fairly recent; only seven years ago did I start truly believing and knowing that all things were possible with prayer and faith. That’s been part of the way I live my life now, with this sense of love and just living a really fabulous life. It's been a game changer for me.”

Wooldridge, who retired from the Navy in 1997, said he wanted “The Blue Angels” to honor those in the military, emphasizing the extraordinary bonds formed in the line of duty. The film, he said, aims to serve both as a tribute to the elite pilots and deliver a powerful message about dedication, skill and the human spirit.

“There's some special things about military service,” he said. “There's special camaraderie, special relationships that are developed there in the military, and that's what the movie really shows because of the way we focus on people and their journeys, and their struggles and their accomplishments to overcome things.”

“The Blue Angels” is in IMAX for one week only, May 17-23, and streams globally on Prime Video on May 23.       

Leah M. Klett is a reporter for The Christian Post. She can be reached at:

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