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Blue Angels A-4 Skyhawk Model

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Description

Blue Angels A-4 Skyhawk Model

Fly with the Blue Angels in this handcrafted A-4 Skyhawk model. Each piece is carved from wood and handpainted to provide a piece you’ll love.

Specifications:

Length:  18 inches

Wingspan: 12 inches

The Blue Angels is the United States Navy’s flight demonstration squadron which was initially formed in 1946,[1] making it the second oldest formal flying aerobatic team (under the same name) in the world, after the French Patrouille de France formed in 1931. The Blue Angels’ McDonnell Douglas F/A-18 Hornets (numbered 1–6) are currently flown by five Navy demonstration pilots and one Marine Corps demonstration pilot.

The Blue Angels typically perform aerial displays annually in at least 60 shows at 30 locations throughout the United States and 2 shows at one location in Canada. The “Blues” still employ many of the same practices and techniques used in the inaugural 1946 season. An estimated 11 million spectators view the squadron during air shows from March through November each year. Members of the Blue Angels team also visit more than 50,000 people in schools, hospitals, and community functions at air show cities. Since 1946, the Blue Angels have flown for more than 505 million spectators.

As of November 2011, the Blue Angels received $37 million annually out of the annual DoD budget.

Mission
The mission of the United States Navy Flight Demonstration Squadron is “to showcase the pride and professionalism of the United States Navy and Marine Corps by inspiring a culture of excellence and service to country through flight demonstrations and community outreach.”

Air Shows
The Blue Angels’ current show season has 61 shows at 32 locations from the middle of March through the beginning of November 2019.[7] The “Blues” perform at both military and non-military airfields, and often over major U.S. cities and capitals such as the Chicago Air and Water Show, Cleveland’s annual Labor Day Air Show, Jacksonville’s Sea and Sky Spectacular, Milwaukee Air and Water Show, Oklahoma City’s Star Spangled Salute Air Show, San Francisco’s “Fleet Week” Maritime Festival, and Seattle’s annual Seafair Festival.[8] A show is also performed annually each May for the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis, Maryland, including a flyover of graduation ceremonies. Canada is also included in the Blue Angels schedule for air shows, such as the Greenwood, Nova Scotia, Canada Air Show Atlantic.

During their aerobatic demonstration, the Blues fly six F/A-18 Hornet aircraft, split into the Diamond Formation (Blue Angels 1 through 4) and the Lead and Opposing Solos (Blue Angels 5 and 6). Most of the show alternates between maneuvers performed by the Diamond Formation and those performed by the Solos. The Diamond, in tight formation and usually at lower speeds (400 mph), performs maneuvers such as formation loops, rolls, and transitions from one formation to another. The Solos showcase the high performance capabilities of their individual aircraft through the execution of high-speed passes, slow passes, fast rolls, slow rolls, and very tight turns. The highest speed flown during an air show is 700 mph (just under Mach 1) and the lowest speed is 120 mph.[3] Some of the maneuvers include both solo aircraft performing at once, such as opposing passes (toward each other in what appears to be a collision course) and mirror formations (back-to-back. belly-to-belly, or wingtip-to-wingtip, with one jet flying inverted). The Solos join the Diamond Formation near the end of the show for a number of maneuvers in the Delta Formation.

The show’s narrator flies Blue Angel 7, a two-seat F/A-18D Hornet, to show sites. The Blues use this jet for backup, and to give demonstration rides to VIP civilians. Three backseats at each show are available; one of them goes to members of the press, the other two to “Key Influencers”. The No. 4 slot pilot often flies the No. 7 aircraft in Friday’s “practice” shows.

The Blue Angels formerly used a United States Marine Corps Lockheed C-130T Hercules, nicknamed “Fat Albert”, for their logistics, carrying spare parts, equipment, and to carry support personnel between shows. Beginning in 1975, “Bert” was used for Jet Assisted Take Off (JATO) and short aerial demonstrations just prior to the main event at selected venues, but the JATO demonstration ended in 2009 due to dwindling supplies of rockets. “Fat Albert Airlines” flies with an all-Marine crew of three officers and five enlisted personnel. The current “Bert” (BUNO 164763) was retired from service in May 2019 with 30,000 flight hours. The Blue Angels will be replacing it with an Ex-RAF C-130J.

In August 2018, Boeing was awarded a contract to convert nine single-seat F/A-18E Super Hornets and two F/A-18F two-seaters for Blue Angels use, the converted aircraft are due to be completed 2021.

Team members

There have been 267 demonstration pilots in the Blue Angels history (includes the 2019 season)

All team members, both officer and enlisted, pilots and staff officers, come from the ranks of regular Navy and United States Marine Corps units. The demonstration pilots and narrator are made up of Navy and USMC Naval Aviators. Pilots serve two to three years,[3] and position assignments are made according to team needs, pilot experience levels, and career considerations for members. Other officers in the squadron include a Naval Flight Officer who serves as the Events Coordinator, three USMC C-130 pilots, an Executive Officer, a Maintenance Officer, a Supply Officer, a Public Affairs Officer, an Administrative Officer, and a Flight Surgeon. Enlisted members range from E-4 to E-9 and perform all maintenance, administrative, and support functions. They serve three to four years in the squadron.[3] After serving with the squadron, members return to fleet assignments.

The officer selection process requires pilots and support officers (flight surgeon, events coordinator, maintenance officer, supply officer, and public affairs officer) wishing to become Blue Angels to apply formally via their chain-of-command, with a personal statement, letters of recommendation, and flight records. Navy and Marine Corps F/A-18 demonstration pilots and naval flight officers are required to have a minimum of 1,250 tactical jet hours and be carrier-qualified. Marine Corps C-130 demonstration pilots are required to have 1,200 flight hours and be an aircraft commander.[18]

Applicants “rush” the team at one or more airshows, paid out of their own finances, and sit in on team briefs, post-show activities, and social events. It is critical that new officers fit the existing culture and team dynamics. The application and evaluation process runs from March through early July, culminating with extensive finalist interviews and team deliberations. Team members vote in secret on the next year’s officers. Selections must be unanimous. There have been female and minority staff officers as Blue Angel members,[19] including minority Blue Angel pilot Lt. Andre Webb on the 2018 team. Flight surgeons serve a two-year term. The flight surgeon provides team medical services, evaluates demonstration maneuvers from the ground, and participates in each post-flight debrief. The first female Blue Angel flight surgeon was Lt. Tamara Schnurr, who was a member of the 2001 team.[20]

The Flight Leader (#1) is the Commanding Officer and is always a Navy commander, who may be promoted to captain mid-tour if approved for captain by the selection board. Pilots of numbers 2–7 are Navy lieutenant commanders or lieutenants, or Marine Corps majors or captains. The number 7 pilot narrates for a year, and then typically flies Opposing and then Lead Solo the following two years, respectively. The number 3 pilot moves to the number 4 (slot) position for his second year. Blue Angel No. 4 serves as the demonstration safety officer, due largely to the perspective he is afforded from the slot position within the formation, as well as his status as a second-year demonstration pilot.

Flight Leader/Commanding Officer
Captain Eric C. Doyle is the 37th Blue Angels Flight Leader/Commanding Officer.[21] He is from League City, Texas and graduated from Texas A&M with a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering in 1996. After college, Doyle went to Officer Candidate School in Pensacola, Florida, where he was commissioned as an ensign in the U.S. Navy in December 1996. Doyle became a naval aviator in 1999, and has accumulated more than 4,000 flight hours and has 750 carrier-arrested landings. He also is a graduate and former staff instructor at the Navy Fighter Weapons School (TOPGUN). He joined the Blue Angels in September 2017,[22] and took command of the squadron on 12 November for the 2018–2019 seasons.[23] His military awards include the following decorations: Meritorious Service Medal, seven Air Medals (Strike/Flight) with Combat “V”, five Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medals with Combat “V”, and Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal.

Training and weekly routine
Annual winter training takes place at NAF El Centro, California, where new and returning pilots hone skills learned in the fleet. During winter training, the pilots fly two practice sessions per day, six days a week, in order to fly the 120 training missions needed to perform the demonstration safely. Separation between the formation of aircraft and their maneuver altitude is gradually reduced over the course of about two months in January and February. The team then returns to their home base in Pensacola, Florida, in March, and continues to practice throughout the show season. A typical week during the season has practices at NAS Pensacola on Tuesday and Wednesday mornings. The team then flies to its show venue for the upcoming weekend on Thursday, conducting “circle and arrival” orientation maneuvers upon arrival. The team flies a “practice” airshow at the show site on Friday. This show is attended by invited guests but is often open to the general public. The main airshows are conducted on Saturdays and Sundays, with the team returning home to NAS Pensacola on Sunday evenings after the show. Monday is an off day for the Blues’ demonstration pilots and road crew. Extensive aircraft maintenance is performed on Sunday evening and Monday by maintenance team members.

Pilots maneuver the flight stick with their right hand and operate the throttle with their left. They do not wear G-suits because the air bladders inside repeatedly deflate and inflate, interfering with that stability. To prevent blood from pooling in their legs, Blue Angel pilots have developed a method for tensing their muscles to prevent blood from pooling in their lower extremities, possibly rendering them unconscious.[24]

History
Origins

All team members, both officer and enlisted, pilots and staff officers, come from the ranks of regular Navy and United States Marine Corps units. The demonstration pilots and narrator are made up of Navy and USMC Naval Aviators. Pilots serve two to three years,[3] and position assignments are made according to team needs, pilot experience levels, and career considerations for members. Other officers in the squadron include a Naval Flight Officer who serves as the Events Coordinator, three USMC C-130 pilots, an Executive Officer, a Maintenance Officer, a Supply Officer, a Public Affairs Officer, an Administrative Officer, and a Flight Surgeon. Enlisted members range from E-4 to E-9 and perform all maintenance, administrative, and support functions. They serve three to four years in the squadron.[3] After serving with the squadron, members return to fleet assignments.

The officer selection process requires pilots and support officers (flight surgeon, events coordinator, maintenance officer, supply officer, and public affairs officer) wishing to become Blue Angels to apply formally via their chain-of-command, with a personal statement, letters of recommendation, and flight records. Navy and Marine Corps F/A-18 demonstration pilots and naval flight officers are required to have a minimum of 1,250 tactical jet hours and be carrier-qualified. Marine Corps C-130 demonstration pilots are required to have 1,200 flight hours and be an aircraft commander.[18]

Applicants “rush” the team at one or more airshows, paid out of their own finances, and sit in on team briefs, post-show activities, and social events. It is critical that new officers fit the existing culture and team dynamics. The application and evaluation process runs from March through early July, culminating with extensive finalist interviews and team deliberations. Team members vote in secret on the next year’s officers. Selections must be unanimous. There have been female and minority staff officers as Blue Angel members,[19] including minority Blue Angel pilot Lt. Andre Webb on the 2018 team. Flight surgeons serve a two-year term. The flight surgeon provides team medical services, evaluates demonstration maneuvers from the ground, and participates in each post-flight debrief. The first female Blue Angel flight surgeon was Lt. Tamara Schnurr, who was a member of the 2001 team.[20]

The Flight Leader (#1) is the Commanding Officer and is always a Navy commander, who may be promoted to captain mid-tour if approved for captain by the selection board. Pilots of numbers 2–7 are Navy lieutenant commanders or lieutenants, or Marine Corps majors or captains. The number 7 pilot narrates for a year, and then typically flies Opposing and then Lead Solo the following two years, respectively. The number 3 pilot moves to the number 4 (slot) position for his second year. Blue Angel No. 4 serves as the demonstration safety officer, due largely to the perspective he is afforded from the slot position within the formation, as well as his status as a second-year demonstration pilot.

Flight Leader/Commanding Officer
Captain Eric C. Doyle is the 37th Blue Angels Flight Leader/Commanding Officer.[21] He is from League City, Texas and graduated from Texas A&M with a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering in 1996. After college, Doyle went to Officer Candidate School in Pensacola, Florida, where he was commissioned as an ensign in the U.S. Navy in December 1996. Doyle became a naval aviator in 1999, and has accumulated more than 4,000 flight hours and has 750 carrier-arrested landings. He also is a graduate and former staff instructor at the Navy Fighter Weapons School (TOPGUN). He joined the Blue Angels in September 2017,[22] and took command of the squadron on 12 November for the 2018–2019 seasons. His military awards include the following decorations: Meritorious Service Medal, seven Air Medals (Strike/Flight) with Combat “V”, five Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medals with Combat “V”, and Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal.

Training and weekly routine
Annual winter training takes place at NAF El Centro, California, where new and returning pilots hone skills learned in the fleet. During winter training, the pilots fly two practice sessions per day, six days a week, in order to fly the 120 training missions needed to perform the demonstration safely. Separation between the formation of aircraft and their maneuver altitude is gradually reduced over the course of about two months in January and February. The team then returns to their home base in Pensacola, Florida, in March, and continues to practice throughout the show season. A typical week during the season has practices at NAS Pensacola on Tuesday and Wednesday mornings. The team then flies to its show venue for the upcoming weekend on Thursday, conducting “circle and arrival” orientation maneuvers upon arrival. The team flies a “practice” airshow at the show site on Friday. This show is attended by invited guests but is often open to the general public. The main airshows are conducted on Saturdays and Sundays, with the team returning home to NAS Pensacola on Sunday evenings after the show. Monday is an off day for the Blues’ demonstration pilots and road crew. Extensive aircraft maintenance is performed on Sunday evening and Monday by maintenance team members.

Pilots maneuver the flight stick with their right hand and operate the throttle with their left. They do not wear G-suits because the air bladders inside repeatedly deflate and inflate, interfering with that stability. To prevent blood from pooling in their legs, Blue Angel pilots have developed a method for tensing their muscles to prevent blood from pooling in their lower extremities, possibly rendering them unconscious.

History
Origins

The Blue Angels were originally formed in April 1946 as the Navy Flight Exhibition Team .

The Flight Exhibition Team was first introduced as the “Blue Angels” during an air show in July 1946.

The first Blue Angels demonstration aircraft were navy blue (nearly black) with gold lettering. The current shades of blue and yellow were adopted when the first demonstration aircraft were transitioned from the Grumman F6F-5 Hellcat to the Grumman F8F-1 Bearcat in August 1946; the aircraft were an all-yellow scheme with blue markings during the 1949 show season.

The original Blue Angels insignia or “crest” was designed in 1949, by Lt. Commander Raleigh “Dusty” Rhodes, their third Flight Leader and first jet fighter leader. The aircraft silhouettes change as the team changes aircraft.

The Blue Angels transitioned from propeller-driven aircraft to blue and gold jet aircraft (Grumman F9F-2B Panther) in August 1949.

The Blue Angels demonstration teams began wearing leather jackets and special colored flight suits with the Blue Angels insignia, in 1952. In 1953, they began wearing gold colored flight suits for the first show of the season and or to commemorate milestones for the flight demonstration squadron.

The Navy Flight Exhibition Team was reorganized and commissioned the United States Navy Flight Demonstration Squadron on 10 December 1973.

1946-1950

The Blue Angels were established as a Navy flight exhibition team on 24 April 1946 by order of Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Chester Nimitz to generate greater public support of naval aviation. To boost Navy morale, demonstrate naval air power, and maintain public interest in naval aviation, an underlying mission was to help the Navy generate public and political support for a larger allocation of the shrinking defense budget. Rear Admiral Ralph Davison personally selected Lieutenant Commander Roy Marlin “Butch” Voris, a World War II fighter ace, to assemble and train a flight demonstration team, naming him Officer-in-Charge and Flight Leader. Voris selected three fellow instructors to join him (Lt. Maurice “Wick” Wickendoll, Lt. Mel Cassidy, and Lt. Cmdr. Lloyd Barnard, veterans of the War in the Pacific), and they spent countless hours developing the show. The group perfected its initial maneuvers in secret over the Florida Everglades so that, in Voris’ words, “if anything happened, just the alligators would know”. The first four pilots and those after them, were and are some of the best and most experienced aviators in the Navy.

The team’s first demonstration with Grumman F6F-5 Hellcat aircraft took place before Navy officials on 10 May 1946, and was met with enthusiastic approval. The Blue Angels performed their first public flight demonstration from their first training base and team headquarters at Naval Air Station (NAS) Jacksonville, Florida, on 15 and 16 June 1946,[35] with three F6F-5 Hellcats (a fourth F6F-5 was held in reserve). On 15 June, Voris led the three Hellcats (numbered 1–3), specially modified to reduce weight and painted sea blue with gold leaf trim, through their inaugural 15-minute-long performance.[1] The team employed a North American SNJ Texan, painted and configured to simulate a Japanese Zero, to simulate aerial combat. This aircraft was later painted yellow and dubbed the “Beetle Bomb”. This aircraft is said to have been inspired by one of the Spike Jones’ Murdering the Classics series of musical satires, set to the tune (in part) of the William Tell Overture as a thoroughbred horse race scene, with “Beetle Bomb” being the “trailing horse” in the lyrics.

The team thrilled spectators with low-flying maneuvers performed in tight formations, and (according to Voris) by “keeping something in front of the crowds at all times. My objective was to beat the Army Air Corps. If we did that, we’d get all the other side issues. I felt that if we weren’t the best, it would be my naval career.” The Blue Angels’ first public demonstration also netted the team its first trophy, which sits on display at the team’s current home at NAS Pensacola. During an air show at Omaha, Nebraska on 19–21 July 1946, the Navy Flight Exhibition Team was introduced as the Blue Angels.[36] The name had originated through a suggestion by Right Wing Pilot Lt. Maurice “Wick” Wickendoll, after he had read about the Blue Angel nightclub in The New Yorker magazine. After ten appearances with the Hellcats, the Hellcats were replaced by the lighter, faster, and more powerful F8F-1 Bearcats on 25 August.[36] By the end of the year the team consisted of four Bearcats numbered 1-4 on the tail sections.

In May 1947, flight leader Lt. Cmdr. Bob Clarke replaced Butch Voris as the leader of the team. The team with an additional 5th pilot, relocated to Naval Air Station (NAS) Corpus Christ, Texas. On 7 June at Birmingham, Alabama, four F8F-1 Bearcats (numbered 1–4) flew in diamond formation for the first time which is now considered the Blue Angels’ trademark. A 5th Bearcat was also added that year. A SNJ was used as a Japanese Zero for dogfights with the Bearcats in air shows.

In January 1948, Lt. Cmdr. Raleigh ” Dusty” Rhodes took command of the Blue Angels team which was flying four Bearcats and a yellow painted SNJ with USN markings dubbed “Beetle Bomb”; the SNJ represented a Japanese Zero for the air show dogfights with the Bearcats. The name “Blue Angels” also was painted on the Bearcats.

In 1949, the team acquired a Douglas R4D Skytrain for logistics to and from show sites. The team’s SNJ was also replaced by another Bearcat, painted yellow for the air combat routine, inheriting the “Beetle Bomb” nickname. In May, the team went to the west coast on temporary duty so the pilots and rest of the team could become familiar with jet aircraft. On 13 July, the team acquired, and began flying the straight-wing Grumman F9F-2B Panther between demonstration shows. On 20 August, the team debuted the panther jets under Team Leader Lt. Commander Raleigh “Dusty” Rhodes[36] during an air show at Beaumont, Texas and added a 6th pilot. The F8F-1 “Beetle Bomb” was relegated to solo aerobatics before the main show, until it crashed on takeoff at a training show in Pensacola on 24 April 1950, killing “Blues” pilot Lt. Robert Longworth. Team headquarters shifted from NAS Corpus Christi, Texas, to NAAS Whiting Field, Florida, on 10 September 1949, announced 14 July 1949.

1950-1960

The Blues Angels pilots continued to perform nationwide in 1950. On 25 June, the Korean War started, and all Blue Angels pilots[43] volunteered for combat duty. The squadron (due to a shortage of pilots, and no available planes) and its members were ordered to “combat ready status” after an exhibition at Naval Air Station, Dallas, Texas on 30 July.[44] The Blue Angels were disbanded,[36] and its pilots were reassigned to a carrier. Once aboard the aircraft carrier USS Princeton on 9 November, the group formed the core of Fighter Squadron 191 (VF-19), “Satan’s Kittens”, under the command of World War II fighter ace and 1950 Blue Angels Commander/Flight Leader, Lt. Commander John Magda; he was killed in action on 8 March 1951.

On 25 October 1951, the Blues were ordered to re-activate as a flight demonstration team, and reported to NAS Corpus Christi, Texas. Lt. Cdr. Voris was again tasked with assembling the team (he was the first of only two commanding officers to lead them twice). In May 1952, the Blue Angels began performing again with F9F-5 Panthers[46] at an airshow in Memphis, Tennessee. In 1953, the team[48] traded its Sky Train for a Curtiss R5C Commando. In August, “Blues” leader LCDR Ray Hawkins became the first naval aviator to survive an ejection at supersonic speeds when a new F9F-6 he was piloting became uncontrollable on a cross-country flight. After summer, the team began demonstrating with F9F-6 Panthers.

In 1954, the first Marine Corps pilot, Captain Chuck Hiett, joined the Navy’s flight demonstration team. The Blue Angels also received special colored flight suits. In May, the Blue Angels performed at Bolling Air Force Base in Washington, D.C. with the Air Force Thunderbirds (activated 25 May 1953). The Blue Angels began relocating to their current home at Naval Air Station (NAS) Pensacola, Florida that winter, and it was here they progressed to the swept-wing Grumman F9F-8 Cougar. In December, the team left its home base for its first winter training facility at Naval Air Facility El Centro, California

In September 1956, the team added a sixth aircraft to the flight demonstration in the Opposing Solo position,[56] and gave its first performance outside the United States at the International Air Exposition in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. It also upgraded its logistics aircraft to the Douglas R5D Skymaster.

In 1957, the Blue Angels transitioned from the F9F-8 Cougar to the supersonic Grumman F11F-1 Tiger.[57] The first demonstration was flying the short-nosed version on 23 March, at Barin Field, Pensacola, and then the long-nosed versions. The demonstration team (with added Angel 6) wore gold flight suits during the first air show that season.

In 1958, the first Six-Plane Delta Maneuvers were added that season.

1960-1970

In July 1964, the Blue Angels participated in the Aeronaves de Mexico Anniversary Air Show over Mexico City, Mexico, before an estimated crowd of 1.5 million people.

In 1965, the Blue Angels conducted a Caribbean island tour, flying at five sites. Later that year, they embarked on a European tour to a dozen sites, including the Paris Air Show, where they were the only team to receive a standing ovation.

In 1967, the Blues toured Europe again, at six sites.

In 1968, the C-54 Skymaster transport aircraft was replaced with a Lockheed VC-121J Constellation. The Blues transitioned to the two-seat McDonnell Douglas F-4J Phantom II in 1969, nearly always keeping the back seat empty for flight demonstrations. The Phantom was the only plane to be flown by both the “Blues” and the United States Air Force Thunderbirds (the “Birds”). That year they also upgraded to the Lockheed C-121 Super Constellation for logistics.

1970-1980

In 1970, the Blues received their first U.S. Marine Corps Lockheed KC-130F Hercules. An all-Marine crew manned it. That year, they went on their first South American tour.

In 1971, the team which wore the gold flight suits for the first show,[58] conducted its first Far East Tour, performing at a dozen locations in Korea, Japan, Taiwan, Guam, and the Philippines.

In 1972, the Blue Angels were awarded the Navy’s Meritorious Unit Commendation for the two-year period from 1 March 1970 – 31 December 1971. Another European tour followed in 1973, including air shows in Tehran, Iran, England, France, Spain, Turkey, Greece, and Italy.

On 10 December 1973, the Navy Flight Exhibition Team was reorganized and commissioned the United States Navy Flight Demonstration Squadron.[59][60] The Blues mission was more on Navy recruiting.

In 1974, the Blue Angels transitioned to the new Douglas A-4F Skyhawk II. Navy Commander Anthony Less became the squadron’s first “commanding officer” and “flight leader”. A permanent flight surgeon position and administration officer was added to the team.[61][62] The squadron’s mission was redefined by Less to further improve the recruiting effort.

1980-1990
In 1986, LCDR Donnie Cochran, joined the Blue Angels as the first African-American Naval Aviator to be selected.[63][64] He served for two more years with the squadron flying the left wingman position in the number 3, A-4F fighter, and returned to command and lead the Blue Angels in 1995 and 1996.[65]

On 8 November 1986, the Blue Angels completed their 40th anniversary year during ceremonies unveiling their present aircraft, the McDonnell Douglas F/A-18 Hornet. The power and aerodynamics of the Hornet allows them to perform a slow, high angle of attack “tail sitting” maneuver, and to fly a “dirty” (landing gear down) formation loop.[66][67]

1990-2000
In 1992, the Blue Angels deployed for a month-long European tour, their first in 19 years, conducting shows in Sweden, Finland, Russia (first foreign flight demonstration team to perform there), Romania, Bulgaria, Italy, the United Kingdom, and Spain.

In 1998, CDR Patrick Driscoll made the first “Blue Jet” landing on a “haze gray and underway” aircraft carrier, USS Harry S. Truman (CVN-75).

On October 8, 1999, the Blue Angels lost two pilots. LCDR Kieron O’Connor and LT Kevin Colling were returning from a practice flight before an air show when their F/A-18B crashed in a wooded area of south Georgia.[68]

2000-2010
In 2000, the Navy was conducting investigations in regard and connected to the loss of two Blue Angels pilots in October 1999. The pilots of the F/A-18 Hornet were not required to wear and do not wear g-suits.

In 2006, the Blue Angels marked their 60th year of performing.[69] On 30 October 2008, a spokesman for the team announced that the team would complete its last three performances of the year with five jets instead of six. The change was because one pilot and another officer in the organization had been removed from duty for engaging in an “inappropriate relationship”. The Navy stated that one of the individuals was a man and the other a woman, one a Marine and the other from the Navy, and that Rear Admiral Mark Guadagnini, chief of Naval air training, was reviewing the situation.[70] At the next performance at Lackland Air Force Base following the announcement the No. 4 or slot pilot, was absent from the formation. A spokesman for the team would not confirm the identity of the pilot removed from the team.[71] On 6 November 2008 both officers were found guilty at an admiral’s mast on unspecified charges but the resulting punishment was not disclosed. The names of the two members involved were later released on the Pensacola News Journal website/forum as pilot No. 4 USMC Maj. Clint Harris and the administrative officer, Navy Lt. Gretchen Doane.

On 21 April 2007, pilot Kevin “Kojak” Davis was killed and eight people on the ground were injured when Davis lost control of the Number 6 jet and crashed due to G-force-induced Loss Of Consciousness (G-LOC) during an air show at the Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort in Beaufort, South Carolina.

The Fat Albert performed its final JATO demonstration at the 2009 Pensacola Homecoming show, expending their 8 remaining JATO bottles. This demonstration not only was the last JATO performance of the squadron, but also the final JATO use of the U.S. Marine Corps.

In 2009, the Blue Angels were inducted into the International Air & Space Hall of Fame at the San Diego Air & Space Museum.

2010-2020

On 22 May 2011, the Blue Angels were performing at the Lynchburg Regional Airshow in Lynchburg, Virginia, when the Diamond formation flew the Barrel Roll Break maneuver at an altitude that was lower than the required minimum altitude.[76] The maneuver was aborted, the remainder of the demonstration canceled and all aircraft landed safely. The next day, the Blue Angels announced that they were initiating a safety stand-down, canceling their upcoming Naval Academy Airshow and returning to their home base in Pensacola, Florida, for additional training and airshow practice.[77] On 26 May, the Blue Angels announced they would not be flying their traditional fly-over of the Naval Academy Graduation Ceremony and that they were canceling their 28–29 May 2011 performances at the Millville Wings and Wheels Airshow in Millville, New Jersey.

On 27 May 2011, the Blue Angels announced that Commander Dave Koss, the squadron’s Commanding Officer, would be stepping down. He was replaced by Captain Greg McWherter, the team’s previous Commanding Officer.[78] The squadron canceled performances at the Rockford, Illinois Airfest 4–5 June and the Evansville, Indiana Freedom Festival Air Show 11–12 June to allow additional practice and demonstration training under McWherter’s leadership.

On 29 July 2011, a new Blue Angels Mustang GT was auctioned off for $400,000 at the Experimental Aircraft Association AirVenture Oshkosh (Oshkosh Air Show) annual summer gathering of aviation enthusiasts from 25 to 31 July in Oshkosh, Wisconsin which had an attendance of 541,000 persons and 2,522 show planes.

Between 2 and 4 September 2011 on Labor Day weekend, the Blue Angels flew for the first time with a 50–50 blend of conventional JP-5 jet fuel and a camelina-based biofuel at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland.[81][82] McWherter flew an F/A-18 test flight on 17 August and stated there were no noticeable differences in performance from inside the cockpit.

On 1 March 2013, the U.S. Navy announced that it was cancelling remaining 2013 performances after 1 April 2013 due to sequestration budget constraints.[85][86][87] In October 2013, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, stating that “community and public outreach is a crucial Departmental activity”, announced that the Blue Angels (along with the U.S. Air Force’s Thunderbirds) would resume appearing at air shows starting in 2014, although the number of flyovers will continue to be severely reduced.

On 15 March 2014, the demonstration pilots numbered 1–7 wore gold flight suits to celebrate the team’s “return to the skies” during their first air show of the season;[89] there were only 3 air shows in 2013.

In June 2014, Captain Greg McWherter, flight leader of the Blue Angels for 2008-2010 and 2011-2012, received letter of reprimand from Adm. Harry Harris after an admiral’s mast for “failing to stop obvious and repeated instances of sexual harassment, condoning widespread lewd practices within the squadron and engaging in inappropriate and unprofessional discussions with his junior officers” during his second tour with the team.

In July 2014, Marine Corps Capt. Katie Higgins, 27, became the first female pilot to join the Blue Angels.[91][92] In July 2015, Cmdr Bob Flynn became the Blue Angels’ first Executive Officer.

In July 2016, Boeing was awarded a $12 million contract to begin an engineering proposal for converting the Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet for Blue Angels use, with the proposal to be completed by September 2017.

In 2019, there are 61 air shows scheduled, from 16 March at the annual air show in Naval Air Facility (NAF) El Centro, California, through 8–9 November at two Homecoming air shows in Naval Air Station (NAS), Pensacola, Florida.[94]

Aircraft timeline

The “Blues” have flown eight different demonstration aircraft and six support aircraft models:

Demonstration aircraft
Grumman F6F-5 Hellcat: June–August 1946
Grumman F8F-1 Bearcat: August 1946 – 1949
Grumman F9F-2 Panther: 1949 – June 1950 (first jet); F9F-5 Panther: 1951 – Winter 1954/55
Grumman F9F-8 Cougar: Winter 1954/55 – mid-season 1957 (swept-wing)
Grumman F11F-1 (F-11) Tiger: mid-season 1957 – 1968 (first supersonic jet)
McDonnell Douglas F-4J Phantom II: 1969 – December 1974
Douglas A-4F Skyhawk: December 1974 – November 1986
McDonnell Douglas F/A-18A/B/C/D Hornet (F/A-18B/D are #7 aircraft): November 1986 – present

Support aircraft
JRB Expeditor (Beech 18): 1949–?
Douglas R4D-6 Skytrain: 1949–1955
Curtiss R5C Commando: 1953
Douglas R5D Skymaster: 1956–1968
Lockheed C-121 Super Constellation: 1969–1973
Lockheed C-130 Hercules “Fat Albert”: 1970–2019
Miscellaneous aircraft
North American SNJ Texan “Beetle Bomb” (used to simulate a Japanese A6M Zero aircraft in demonstrations during the late 1940s)
Lockheed T-33 Shooting Star (Used during the 1950s as a VIP transport aircraft for the team)
Vought F7U Cutlass (two of the unusual F7Us were received in late 1952 and flown as a side demonstration during the 1953 season but they were not a part of their regular formations which at the time used the F9F Panther. Pilots and ground crew found it unsatisfactory and plans to use it as the team’s primary aircraft were cancelled).

Air Show routine

This Blue Angels show routine was used in 2017.

Fat Albert (C-130) – high-performance takeoff (Low Transition)
Fat Albert – Parade Pass (Photo Pass. The plane banks around the front of the crowd)
Fat Albert – Flat Pass
Fat Albert – Head on Pass
Fat Albert – Short-Field Assault Landing
FA-18 Engine Start-Up and Taxi Out
Diamond Take-off (Either a low transition with turn, loop on takeoff, a half-Cuban 8 takeoff, or a Half Squirrel Cage)
Solos Take-off (Blue Angel #5: Dirty Roll on Take-Off; Blue Angel #6: Low Transition to High Performance Climb)
Diamond 360: Aircraft 1, 2, 3 and 4 are in their signature 18″ wingtip-to-canopy diamond formation.
Opposing Knife-Edge Pass
Diamond Roll: The whole diamond formation rolls as a single entity.
Opposing Inverted to Inverted Rolls
Diamond Aileron Roll: All 4 diamond jets perform simultaneous aileron rolls.
Fortus: Solos flying in carrier landing configuration with No.5 inverted, establishing a “mirror image” effect.
Diamond Dirty Loop: The diamond flies a loop with all 4 jets in the carrier landing configuration.
Minimum Radius Turn (Highest G maneuver. No.5 flies a “horizontal loop” pulling 7 Gs to maintain a tight radius)
Double Farvel: Diamond formation flat pass with aircraft 1 and 4 inverted.
Opposing Minimum Radius Turn
Echelon Parade
Opposing Horizontal Rolls
Left Echelon Roll: The roll is made into the Echelon, which is somewhat difficult for the outside aircraft.
Sneak Pass: the fastest speed of the show is about 700 mph (just under Mach 1 at sea level) Video
Line-Abreast Loop – the most difficult formation maneuver to do well. No.5 joins the diamond as the 5 jets fly a loop in a straight line
Opposing Four-Point Hesitation Roll
Vertical Break
Opposing Vertical Pitch
Barrel Roll Break
Tuck Over Roll
Low Break Cross
Section High-Alpha Pass: (tail sitting), the show’s slowest maneuver
Diamond Burner 270
Delta Roll
Fleur de Lis
Solos Pass to Rejoin, Diamond flies a loop
Loop Break Cross (Delta Break): After the break the aircraft separate in six different directions, perform half Cuban Eights then cross in the center of the performance area.
Delta Breakout
Delta Pitch Up Carrier Break to Land