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The SCENE Magazine

Clear Creek H.S. Graduate returns home for Wings Over Houston as Blue Angels Flight Leader

When Blue Angels Flight Leader and Commanding Officer Eric C. Doyle touches #1 (Jet) down on the runway at Ellington Airport this month for the Wings Over Houston Airshow (October 20-21), the League City native will be back home and in a very familiar place. 

Doyle, who graduated from Clear Creek High School in 1991 and went to Texas A&M University on a swimming scholarship before leaving  with a Bachelor of Science (Civil Engineering) in 1996, is no stranger to the runway at Ellington Airport. His late father flew the F-4 Phantom with the Air Force in Vietnam and later transferred to the Texas Air National Guard at then Ellington Field, which brought the entire Doyle family to the Houston area when Eric was 8. He would often accompany his father to Ellington Field to watch him fly.

Soon after Doyle was hand-picked to lead the Blue Angels by a panel at Naval Air Station Pensacola consisting of an admiral and nine other Navy officers who all once held the coveted position he sought, he was quoted in media saying “my motivation to become a pilot came from watching the Blue Angels. We used to watch (them) at the Houston Air Show,” Doyle explained. 

Before they are allowed to lead the Blue Angels, applicants must have at least 3,000 hours in the air and have already commanded a tactical jet squadron. Doyle's most recent assignment was as the commander of VFA-113, an F/A-18 Hornet unit based in Lemoore, California. He has several combat deployments under his belt, supporting ground troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.

After college, Doyle went to Officer Candidate School in Pensacola, Florida, where he was commissioned as an Ensign in the United States Navy in December 1996. He was designated a Naval Aviator in April 1999 and received orders to the “Rough Raiders” of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 125 at Naval Air Station (NAS) Lemoore, California, for F/A-18C Hornet training. His first fleet assignment was as a member of the “Eagles” of VFA-115 where he flew the F/A-18C and F/A-18E and made two deployments on the USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) in support of Operations Southern Watch, Enduring Freedom, and Iraqi Freedom. In July 2003, he was selected to attend the Navy Fighter Weapons School (TOPGUN), where he remained as a staff instructor.

Upon completing his tour at TOPGUN, Doyle reported to the “Ragin’ Bulls” of VFA-37 at NAS Oceana, VA where he served as the Training Officer and deployed aboard the USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Following his Training Officer tour, Eric reported to the “Valions” of VFA-15 as a Department Head where he deployed on the USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. During his tour with the Valions he was selected as the 2009 LCDR Michael Hoff G. Attack Aviator of the Year.

 Doyle then received orders to the 422nd Test & Evaluation Squadron at Nellis Air Force Base in Las Vegas, Nevada, where he flew the F-22A Raptor from February 2011 to January 2014 as an Operational Test pilot. Doyle was then assigned as the Executive Officer of the “Stingers” of VFA-113 in August 2014. He deployed with VFA-113 and CVW-17 aboard the USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) in support of Operation Inherent Resolve. He assumed command of the Stingers in December 2015 and led VFA-113 through the transition to the F/A-18E Super Hornet. Doyle joined the Blue Angels in September 2017. He has accumulated more than 3,000 flight hours and has 600 carrier-arrested landings. His decorations include the Meritorious Service Medal, seven Strike/Flight Air Medal, five Navy Commendation Medal, a Navy Achievement Medal and various personal, unit and service awards. 

As Blue Angels Commanding Officer, Doyle leads a squadron of 130 personnel and serves as the demonstration flight leader, flying the No. 1 jet. The Blue Angels perform for 11 million people annually across the United States and will perform 61 shows in 33 locations this 2018 season.