PENSACOLA, Fla. -- The U.S. Navy flight demonstration squadron, the Blue Angels, announced the commanding officer for the 2016-17 seasons during a press conference at the National Naval Aviation Museum on board Naval Air Station Pensacola, Florida, May 4.
A selection panel comprised of ten admirals and former commanding officers selected Cmdr. Ryan Bernacchi to succeed Capt. Tom Frosch.
The selection panel was led by Chief of Naval Air Training, Rear Adm. Roy Kelley.
"We prioritized selecting an officer who is an outstanding example of the pride and professionalism of the Navy and Marine Corps," said Kelley. "Commander Bernacchi has a proven record of excellence and will be both a strong flight leader and commanding officer for the 2016 team."
Applicants are 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.
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.
Bernacchi attended the University of California, San Diego, and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1996. He 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.
"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."
Bernacchi will serve as commanding officer and flight leader for the 2016 and 2017 Blue Angels air show seasons. He will report for initial training in Pensacola, Florida in September and officially take command of the squadron at the end of the air show season in November. The change-of-command ceremony is slated for November 8, 2015 at the National Naval Aviation Museum.
As the Blue Angels' 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.
The mission of the Blue Angels is to showcase the pride and professionalism of the United States Navy and Marine Corps, inspiring a culture of excellence and service to country through flight demonstrations and community outreach.