CWU News

CWU Aviation Alumnus Preparing to Fly with Blue Angels This Spring

CWU alum Josh Soltan in his Blue Angels uniform

CWU Aviation alum Josh Soltan was selected to fly with the U.S. Navy Blue Angels for the next three years.

Central Washington University Aviation alumnus Josh Soltan has been honing his piloting skills for more than a decade. Now, he’s ready to fly at the highest level with the U.S. Navy Blue Angels. 

This spring, the Marine Corps Major and C-130J pilot will be flying with the elite air demonstration squadron after training with 154 others from the Navy and Marines in El Centro, California, and Pensacola, Florida, in preparation for the 2022 air show season.

Soltan is both honored and humbled to have been given the opportunity to fly alongside the military’s most accomplished pilots and aircraft mechanics for the next three years. At the same time, he knows he belongs among the community of service members whose shared dedication to their country have made him feel like he is part of one big family.

“Aviation has always been a passion of mine, and through a lot of hard work and practice, I learned to do the job really well,” said Soltan, a 2010 CWU graduate who grew up in Spokane. “Flying is what I have wanted to do since I was a kid watching movies like ‘Top Gun,’ so I just kept pursuing that dream. And here I am.”

Inside the cockpit of the Blue Angels C130JSoltan credits the CWU Aviation program for helping him acquire the skills and mindset required to become a Blue Angel. While living in Ellensburg, he developed a “gritty, never-give-up attitude” that he used as a “springboard to my dream career.”

“I built up a lot of tenacity there and, by the time I graduated, I wasn’t going to take ‘no’ for an answer,” he said. “CWU gave me the baseline foundation I needed to go anywhere in the world I wanted to go.”

Central’s focus on diversity also helped prepare Soltan for his latest challenge. During his time there, he remembers being exposed to professors and students from a wide range of backgrounds and life experiences — all of whom helped shape him throughout his military career.

He credits longtime Aviation professor Teresa Sloan and former flight instructor Alan Garcia as his two most influential mentors at CWU. Classmates Brian Fagan (Air Force) and Randy Brazille (Marines) also helped motivate Soltan to become the best pilot he could be.

“CWU gave me the stepping stone I needed to get to this point,” he said. “Now that I’ve reached this level with the Blue Angels, I’m going to give it my all for as long as I’m here and, hopefully, inspire the next generation of military pilots.”

He is the second Central alumnus to have been selected for the Blue Angels, joining Lt. Cmdr. Craig Olson (’91), who flew two separate tours with the Navy Flight Demonstration Squadron in 2002 and 2007. Soltan is the first Central alum to pilot the C-130J, a multipurpose cargo plane affectionately referred to as “Fat Albert.”

CWU alum and U.S. Marine Corps Major Josh SoltanThe 2022 Blue Angels air show season will take flight next month in El Centro and conclude in November in their hometown station of Pensacola. Among the 30-plus shows this season, the team will also perform at Seattle’s Seafair festival in August.

“The performance shows will be a new gambit for me,” Soltan said. “But a lot of the maneuvers we do are the same as what we practice in the Marines. It’s a little different being part of a Navy squadron, but we speak mostly the same language. I’m really looking forward to this season and the next couple of years.”

Soltan captured his whole experience from the past seven months by invoking the Blue Angels’ famous salute, which honors the important job he and his fellow crewmembers are doing, along with the more than 800,000 Navy and Marines service members they represent.

“Glad to be here!” he exclaimed with pride.

Media contactDavid Leder, Department of Public Affairs, 509-963-1518.