BOSTON – Even as a young boy, Navy Blue Angels Lt. Cmdr. Kevin Davis was intrigued by speed.
"He was fascinated with airplanes from the time he was little," former neighbor Betty Sweeney said. "He knew what he wanted to do, and he did it. That's the only relief, that he went doing what he wanted to do."
The 32-year-old Navy lieutenant commander was killed Saturday when the F/A-18 Hornet jet he piloted as a member of the Blue Angeles team crashed during an air show in a residential area of Beaufort, S.C.
He joined the Blue Angels in September 2005. A Navy statement said the pilot had been on the team for two years — and this was his first year as a demonstration pilot.
Another former neighbor, Tom McGill, taught at Taconic High School, where Davis' father, John, was principal. McGill said John Davis and his wife, Ann, who now live in Aiken, S.C., were in the crowd at the air show Saturday.
Sweeney had not seen Davis for several years, but remembered him as a small boy in their western Massachusetts town of Pittsfield.
"My son, David, had a motorcycle, and he (Davis) was so interested in that when he was a kid. He used to call my son 'Motorcycle Dave,"' she said.
Peggy Gleason recalled that Davis appeared at her door each weekday morning to walk her daughter, Kristen, to the neighborhood elementary school they attended together.
"He was this cute little kid who used to show up at the door. He always had a smile on his face. And he was just as handsome as he was nice," Gleason said.
She said Kristen happened to be home with her parents when news of the Blue Angels crash was broadcast on television.
"She was devastated. She's taking it very hard," Gleason said.
Kevin Davis, who was single, was the youngest of three sons, McGill said. The oldest, Christian, is a Navy supply officer, and middle brother Phil is a teacher in China.
"Kevin was a highly motivated young man. He loved planes. He was a good student and a very conscientious young man," McGill said.
Although Davis spent his early years in Pittsfield, he graduated in 1992 from Reading Memorial High School after the family moved east when his father took the job of school superintendent in Somerville.
Davis graduated with honors in 1996 from Embry Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, Fla., according to the Blue Angels' Web site. In September that year, he entered officer candidate school at Naval Air Station in Pensacola, Fla.
He earned "Top Stick" status in his class at Fighter Squadron 101 at Naval Air Station Oceana, Va., while training in F-14 Tomcat jets. He flew missions supporting the U.S.-led war in Afghanistan and graduated from Navy Flight Weapons School in 2004.