Nightly News | May 27, 2011
>>> you know it right away, the iconic scene repeated every year at the military academy , the tossing of hats into the air. at today's commencement, the class of 2011 , something else was conspicuously missing from the skies above them. jim miklaszewski reports on why the top flight u.s. navy blue angels were barred from flight on this graduation day .
>> reporter: they're the u.s. military 's premiere precision flying team, the blue angels . thrilling crowds for more than 60 years, but it came close to crashing down this week. it happened at an air show this sunday in lynchburg, virginia. the wings of two jets appeared to touch. that could be severely catastrophic. at this point, four of the angels planned to execute a crowd pleaser, a roll break. as they have done hundreds of times before, they enter a steep dive. as they pull up, the commander in the first plane realizes they're too low to the ground and they have to break off the maneuver. this is what the barrel roll is supposed to look like. in the incident this week, as the blue angels come out of their dive, navy officials say they're dangerously close to the ground. only 130 feet, when the absolute minimum is more than three times that at 500 feet. only two of the jets appear to break off in the normal maneuver. the other two fly out of the formation, straight and level. one navy official said they almost followed their leader straight into the ground. that leader, dave cox , was voluntary relieved of his command of the blue angels squadron today. and they said this maneuver combined with other instances of not meeting the airborne standard led to my decision to step down. upcoming blue angel air shows have been canceled. but practice flights resume next week. jim