By Tyrel Linkhorn
As a youngster, Benjamin D. Walborn couldn't get close enough the first time he saw the Blue Angels perform their precision formations.
Twenty years have passed, and his view is about to change.
The 28-year-old Navy lieutenant soon will be flying at hundreds of miles an hour with just 12 inches separating his jet from that of another member of one of the world's elite flying teams.
Walborn, stationed in Lemoore, Calif., was one of two pilots selected in mid-July to join the Navy and Marine Corps flight-demonstration team for the 2009 season.
When the former Oley resident thinks back on his first look at the team at Reading Regional Airport, it's difficult for him to believe he's going to be a Blue Angel.
"It's pretty surreal for me to know right now that I'm heading down that path," Walborn said.
Even for someone surrounded by fliers since birth, someone who has piloted F/A-18 jets from aircraft carriers, the excitement that comes with selection as a Blue Angel is huge.
"It's pretty awesome in my mind," Walborn said.
Walborn will leave his squadron at the Naval Air Station in Lemoore in September and join the team to watch the final two months of their shows.
Training for the 2009 season begins at the Blues' base in Pensacola, Fla., immediately after their last performance Nov. 15.
Until then, Walborn, a 2001 graduate of the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md., plans to try to stay humble.
"I'm one of those guys, until I'm wearing the blue flight suit, I'm pretty reserved," he said...............................................................