Blue Angels
Blue Angels
United States Navy Flight Exhibition Team
Blueangelsformationpd.jpg
The Blue Angels F/A-18 Hornets fly in tight diamond formation maintaining 18-inch wing tip to canopy separation.
Active 24 April 1946 to present
Country Flag of the United States.svg United States
Branch US-DeptOfNavy-Seal.svg United States Navy
Role Aerobatic flight demonstration team
Size 16 officers, 110 enlisted
Garrison/HQ NAS Pensacola
NAF El Centro (Winter Airfield)
Colors "Blue Angel" blue
"Insignia" yellow
Insignia
Identification
symbol
Blue Angels Insignia.svg
Aircraft flown
Fighter 10 – F/A-18A Hornets (single seat)
2 – F/A-18B Hornets (two seat)
*Note – four aircraft are spares
Transport 1 – C-130T Hercules

The United States Navy's Navy Flight Demonstration Squadron, popularly known as the Blue Angels, was formed in 1946[1] and is currently the oldest formal flying aerobatic team. The squadron's six demonstration pilots currently fly the F/A-18 Hornet in more than 70 shows at 34 locations throughout the United States each year, where they still employ many of the same practices and techniques used in their aerial displays in 1946. Since their inception, the "Blues" have flown a variety of different aircraft types for more than 427 million spectators worldwide.[citation needed]

Contents

Mission

The mission of the Blue Angels is to enhance Navy and Marine Corps recruiting, and credibly represent Navy and Marine Corps aviation to the United States and its Armed Forces to America and other countries as international ambassadors of good will.[2]

Air show overview

The Blue Angels flying in a Delta Formation at Miramar, San Diego in 2011

The Blue Angels' show season runs each year from March until November. They perform at both military and civilian airfields, and often perform directly over major cities such as San Francisco's "Fleet Week" maritime festival, Cleveland's annual Labor Day Air Show, and Seattle's annual Seafair festival.

During the aerobatic demonstration, the Blue Angels operate six F/A-18 Hornet aircraft, split into the Diamond (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 and those performed by the Solos. The Diamond, in tight formation and usually at lower speeds, performs maneuvers such as formation loops, barrel rolls, and transitions from one formation to another. The Solos fly many of their maneuvers just under the speed of sound,[citation needed] showcasing the high performance capabilities of their individual Hornets through the execution of high-speed passes, slow passes, fast rolls, slow rolls, and very tight turns. Some of the maneuvers include both solo F/A-18s 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 near the end of the show for a number of maneuvers in the Delta formation.

The parameters of each show must be tailored to local weather: in clear weather the high show is performed; in overcast conditions a low show is performed, and in limited visibility (weather permitting) the flat show is presented.[citation needed] The high show requires an 8,000-foot (2,400 m) ceiling and visibility of 3 nautical miles (6 km) from the show's centerpoint. Low and flat ceilings are 3,500 feet (~1 km) and 1,500 feet (460 m) respectively.

Squadron nickname, insignia and paint scheme

Water condensation in the strake vortices of a Hornet during a tight maneuver.

When initially formed, the unit was called the Navy Flight Exhibition Team. The squadron was officially redesignated as the United States Navy Flight Demonstration Squadron in December 1974.[citation needed] The original team adopted the nickname Blue Angels in 1946, when one of them came across the name of New York City's Blue Angel nightclub in The New Yorker magazine; the team introduced themselves as the "Blue Angels" to the public for the first time on July 21, 1946, in Omaha, Nebraska.[citation needed]

The official Blue Angels insignia was designed by then team leader Lt. Cmdr. R.E. "Dusty" Rhodes and approved by Chief of Naval Operations in 1949. It is nearly identical to the current design. In the cloud in the upper right quadrant, the aircraft were originally shown heading down and to the right. Over the years, the plane silhouettes have changed along with the squadron's aircraft. Additionally, the lower left quadrant, which contains the Chief of Naval Air Training insignia, has occasionally contained only Naval Aviator wings.[citation needed]

Originally, demonstration aircraft were navy blue (nearly black) with gold lettering. The current shades of blue and yellow were adopted when the team transitioned to the Bearcat in 1946. For a single year in 1949, the team performed in a blinding all-yellow scheme with blue markings.[3] The current paint scheme, including yellow stripe markings along the top of the fuselage, and "U.S. Navy" on the bottom of the wings, was designed by team member Robert L. Rasmussen in 1957.[citation needed]

Current aircraft

The "Blues" F/A-18 aircraft are former fleet aircraft that are nearly combat-ready. According to the Navy, they can be repainted and readied for combat service in just 72 hours.[4] Significant modifications to each aircraft include removal of the aircraft gun and replacement with the tank that contains the paraffin-based smoke oil used in demonstrations, installation of inverted fuel pumps to increase the time aircraft can spend inverted without fuel starvation, and outfitting with the control stick spring system that is used to facilitate more precise aircraft control inputs.[citation needed] The standard demonstration configuration is such that the pilot must overcome 40 pounds (18 kg) of nose-down stick input to maintain level flight. The Blue Angels do not wear G-suits, because the air bladders inside them would repeatedly deflate and inflate, interfering with the control stick between the pilot's legs.[citation needed] Instead, Blue Angel pilots tense their stomach muscles and legs to prevent blood from rushing from their heads and rendering them unconscious.[4]

"Fat Albert" conducting a Jet Assisted Take Off.

The show narrator flies Blue Angel 7—a two-seat F/A-18B—to show sites. The Blue Angels use this jet for backup, and to give demonstration flights to civilians. Three backseats each show are available, one of them goes to members of the press, the other two to Key Influencers.[5] The No.4 slot pilot often flies the No.7 aircraft in Friday "practice" shows.

The Blue Angels use a United States Marine Corps C-130T Hercules nicknamed "Fat Albert" for logistics, carrying spare parts, equipment, and to carry support personnel between shows. Starting 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.[6] "Fat Albert Airlines" flies with an all-Marine crew of three officers and five enlisted personnel.

Team members

The first Blue Angel Flight Demonstration Squadron (1946–1947), assembled in front of one of their F6F Hellcats (l to r): Lt. Al Taddeo, Solo; Lt. (J.G.) Gale Stouse, Spare; Lt. Cdr. R.M. "Butch" Voris, Flight Leader; Lt. Maurice "Wick" Wickendoll, Right Wing; Lt. Mel Cassidy, Left Wing.

All team members, both officer and enlisted, 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 typically serve two years, and position assignments are made according to team needs, pilot experience levels, and career considerations for members. The team leader (#1) is the Commanding Officer and is always a Navy Commander, who may be promoted to Captain mid-tour depending on if he has been approved for Captain by the selection board. Pilots of numbers 2–7 are Navy Lieutenants or Lieutenant Commanders. There are usually one or two Marines among this group, ranked Captain or Major.[citation needed] 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. There are a number of other officers in the squadron, including a Naval Flight Officer, the USMC C-130 pilots, a Maintenance 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. After serving with the "Blues", members return to fleet assignments.

Members of the 2012 season USN Blue Angels Demonstration Team:

  • Flying Blue Angel No.1, Capt. Greg McWherter (Commander/Leader)
  • Flying Blue Angel No.2, Lieutenant John Hiltz (Right Wing)
  • Flying Blue Angel No.3, Capt Brandon Cordill USMC (Left Wing)
  • Flying Blue Angel No.4, Major Brent Stevens USMC (Slot)
  • Flying Blue Angel No.5, Lieutenant C. J. Simonsen (Lead Solo)
  • Flying Blue Angel No.6, Lieutenant David Tickle (Opposing Solo)
  • Flying Blue Angel No.7, Lieutenant Mark Tedrow (Advance Pilot/Narrator)
  • Events Coordinator, Blue Angel No.8, Lieutenant Todd Royles
  • Flying Fat Albert, M1, Captain Benjamin Blanton USMC
  • Flying Fat Albert, M2, Captain John Hecker USMC
  • Flying Fat Albert, M3, Captain A. J. Harrell USMC
  • Maintenance Officer, Lieutenant Richard Mercado
  • Flight Surgeon, Lieutenant Jason Smith
  • Administrative Officer, Lieutenant Holly Taylor
  • Supply Officer, Lieutenant Scott Adams
  • Public Affairs Officer, Lieutenant Katie Kelly

No.1 (Commander/Leader) for the 2011-2012 seasons was originally Commander Dave Koss; effective May 27, 2011, Koss "stepped down Friday in the wake of a subpar performance at a Virginia air show."[7] His replacement is the Blue Angels' previous CO, Captain Greg McWherter.

Training and weekly routine

The "Blues" support crew watches the team perform in the Grumman F9F-2 Panther jet fighter.
Grumman F6F-5 Hellcats in 1946

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 will 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 returns to their home base of 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 week 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 on Sunday evenings. Mondays are the only regular day off.

History

1940s

On 24 April 1946 Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Chester Nimitz issued a directive ordering the formation of a flight exhibition team to boost Navy morale, demonstrate naval air power, and maintain public interest in naval aviation. However, an underlying mission was to help the Navy generate public and political support for a larger allocation of the shrinking defense budget. In April of that year, 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 team's first demonstration before Navy officials took place on May 10, 1946 and was met with enthusiastic approval.

On 15 June Voris led a trio of Grumman F6F-5 Hellcats, specially modified to reduce weight and painted sea blue with gold leaf trim, through their inaugural 15-minute-long performance at their Florida home base, Naval Air Station Jacksonville.[1] The team employed an 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".

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.

On 25 August 1946 the Blue Angels switched to the Grumman F8F-1 Bearcat and in 1947 introduced the famous "diamond" formation at the World Air Carnival in Birmingham, Alabama.

The team soon became known worldwide for its spectacular aerobatic maneuvers. On 25 August 1946 the squadron upgraded their aircraft to the F8F-1 Bearcat. In May 1947, flight leader Lt. Cmdr. Bob Clarke, replaced Butch Voris as the leader of the team, he introduced the famous Diamond Formation, now considered the Blue Angels' trademark. In 1949, the team acquired a Douglas R4D Sky Train for logistics to and from show sites. The team's SNJ was also replaced by a F8F-1 "Bearcat", painted yellow for the air combat routine. The Blues transitioned to the straight-wing Grumman F9F-2 Panther on 13 July 1949, wherein 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 in 1950.

Team headquarters shifted from NAS Corpus Christi, Texas, to NAAS Whiting Field, Florida, in the fall of 1949, announced 14 July 1949.[8]

1950s

The "Blues" continued to perform nationwide until the start of the Korean War in 1950, when (due to a shortage of pilots, and no planes were available) the team was disbanded and its members were ordered to combat duty. Once aboard the aircraft carrier USS Princeton the group formed the core of VF-191 (Satan's Kittens).

The Blue Angels were officially recommissioned on October 25, 1951, 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 1953 the team traded its Sky Train for a Curtiss R5C Commando.

The Blues remained in Corpus Christi until the winter of 1954, when they relocated to their present home at NAS Pensacola. It was here they progressed to the swept-wing Grumman F9F-8 Cougar.

F9F-8 Cougar formation in 1956

The first Marine Corps pilot, Capt Chuck Hiett, joined the team and they relocated to their current home of NAS Pensacola in the winter of 1954. In August 1954, "Blues" leader LCDR Ray Hawkins becomes the first naval aviator to survive an ejection at supersonic speeds when his F9F-6 became uncontrollable on a cross-country flight.

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

Grumman F11F-1 Tiger, 1957–69

In January 1957, the team left its winter training facility at Naval Air Facility El Centro, California for a ten year period. For the next ten years, the team would winter at NAS Key West, Florida. For the 1957 show season, the Blue Angels transitioned to the supersonic Grumman F11F-1 Tiger, first flying the short-nosed, and then the long-nosed versions. The first Six-Plane Delta Maneuvers were added in the 1958 season.

1960s

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.

The Blues toured Europe again in 1967 touring six sites. In 1968 Skymaster transport aircraft was replaced with a C-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. That year they also upgraded to the 'Lockheed C-121 Super Constellation for logistics.

1970s

McDonnell F-4J Phantom IIs

The Blues received their first U.S Marine Corps Lockheed KC-130F Hercules (Bureau Number 150690) in 1970. An all-Marine crew manned it. That year, they went on their first South American tour. In 1971, the team 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 March 1, 1970 – 31 December 1971. Another European tour followed in 1973, including air shows in Tehran, Iran, England, France, Spain, Turkey, Greece, and Italy.

In December 1974 the Navy Flight Demonstration Team downsized to the subsonic Douglas A-4F Skyhawk II and was reorganized into the Navy Flight Demonstration Squadron. This reorganization permitted the establishment of a commanding officer (the flight leader), added support officers, and further redefined the squadron's mission emphasizing the support of recruiting efforts. Commander Tony Less was the squadron's first official commanding officer.[9]

All six Blue Angel A-4F Skyhawks executing a "fleur de lis" maneuver.

1980s

A Blue Angels Flight Demonstration Squadron pilot sits in the cockpit of an F/A-18 Hornet aircraft
F/A-18s Performing in San Francisco

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 first multi-role fighter/attack aircraft. 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, the last of which is not duplicated by the Thunderbirds.

Also in 1986, LCDR Donnie Cochran, joined the Blue Angels as the first African-American Naval Aviator to be selected. He would return to lead the team in 1993.

Today is a very special and memorable day in your military career that will remain with you throughout your lifetime. You have survived the ultimate test of your peers and have proven to be completely deserving to wear the crest of the U.S. Navy Blue Angels. The prestige of wearing the Blue Angels uniform carries with it an extraordinary honor – one that reflects not only on you as an individual, but on your teammates and the entire squadron. To the crowds at the air shows and to the public at hospitals and schools nationwide, you are a symbol of the Navy and Marine Corps' finest. You bring pride, hope and a promise for tomorrow's Navy and Marine Corps in the smiles and handshakes of today's youth. Remember today as the day you became a Blue Angel; look around at your teammates and commit this special bond to memory. "Once a Blue Angel, always a Blue Angel," rings true for all those who wear the crest of the U.S. Navy Blue Angels. Welcome to the team.

—The Blue Angels Creed, written by JO1 Cathy Konn,[citation needed] 1991–1993

1990s

In 1992 the Blue Angels deployed for a month-long European tour, their first in 19 years, conducting shows in Sweden, Finland, Russia (the 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).

2000s

In 2006, the Blue Angels marked their 60th year of performing.[10] 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.[11] 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.[12] On 6 November 2008 both officers were found guilty at an admiral's mast on unspecified charges but the resulting punishment was not disclosed.[13]

Fat Albert performed its final JATO demonstration at the 2009 Pensacola Homecoming show, spending their 8 remaining JATO bottles. This demonstration not only was the last JATO performance of the squadron, but also the final JATO profile of the entire US Marine Corps.[14]

2010s

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.[15] 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 of Pensacola, Florida, for additional training and airshow practice.[16] 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.[7] 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.[7]

Between 2 September 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 airshow at Patuxent River, Maryland.[17][18] McWherter flew an F/A-18 test flight on 17 August and stated there were no noticeable differences in performance from inside the cockpit.[19][20]

Aircraft timeline

The "Blues" have flown nine different demonstration aircraft and five support aircraft models:

Demonstration aircraft
  1. Grumman F6F-5 Hellcat – June–August 1946
  2. Grumman F8F-1 Bearcat – August 1946–1949
  3. Grumman F9F-2 Panther – 1949 – June 1950 (first jet);
  4. Grumman F9F-5 Panther – 1951-Winter 1954/55
  5. Grumman F9F-8 Cougar – Winter 1954/55-mid-season 1957 (swept-wing)
  6. Grumman F11F-1 Tiger – mid-season 1957–1969 (first supersonic jet)
  7. McDonnell Douglas F-4J Phantom II – 1969 – December 1974
  8. A-4F Skyhawk – December 1974 – November 1986
  9. McDonnell Douglas (now Boeing) F/A-18A-D Hornet – November 1986 – present.
Support aircraft
  1. Douglas R4D Sky Train — 1949–1955
  2. Curtiss R5C Commando — 1953
  3. Douglas R5D Skymaster — 1956–1968
  4. Lockheed C-121 Super Constellation — 1969–1973
  5. Lockheed C-130 Hercules "Fat Albert" — 1970 – present
Miscellaneous aircraft
  1. SNJ Texan
  2. Lockheed T-33 Shooting Star
  3. F7U Cutlass

Show routine

The following is the show routine used on May 17, 2008:[21]

The solos make a "knife-edge" pass. The far aircraft is actually slightly higher than the near aircraft to make them appear in-line to the audience.
Blue Angels in the double farvel formation.
Blue Angels aircraft perform the "Section High Alpha", the slowest maneuver of their show. During the maneuver the two jets slow down to 125 knots (232 km/h) as they pitch the nose of the F/A-18 up to 45 degrees.
Blue Angel number seven roars past during the Fleet Week 2007 air show over the San Francisco Bay.
Blue Angels on Delta Formation.
  • 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 pitch up)
  • 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[dead link]
  • 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 Pitch Up
  • Barrel Roll Break
  • Section High-Alpha Pass: (tail sitting), the show's slowest maneuver[22]
  • Low Break Cross
  • Inverted Tuck Over Roll
  • Tuck Under Break
  • 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 Break to Land

Accidents

During its history, 26 Blue Angels pilots have been killed in air show or training accidents.[23] Through the 2006 season there have been 262 pilots in the squadron's history,[24] giving the job a 10% fatality rate.

  • 1946 – September: Lt. "Robby" Robinson was killed during a performance when a wingtip broke off his Bearcat, sending him into an unrecoverable spin.
  • 1952 – Two Panthers collided during a demonstration in Corpus Christi, Texas and one pilot was killed. The team resumed performances two weeks later.
  • 14 October 1958 – Cmdr. Robert Nicholls Glasgow died during an orientation flight just days after reporting for duty as the new Blue Angels leader.[25]
  • 15 March 1964 – Lt. George L. Neale, 29, was killed during an attempted emergency landing at Apalach Airport near Apalachicola, Florida. Lt. Neale's F-11A Tiger had experienced mechanical difficulties during a flight from West Palm Beach, Florida to NAS Pensacola, causing him to attempt the emergency landing. Failing to reach the airport, he ejected from the aircraft on final approach, but his parachute did not have sufficient time to fully deploy.[26]
  • 2 September 1966 – Lt. Cmdr. Dick Oliver crashed his Tiger and was killed at the Canadian International Air Show in Toronto.
  • 1 February 1967 – Lt Frank Gallagher was killed when his Tiger stalled during a practice Half Cuban 8 maneuver and spun into the ground.
  • 18 February 1967 – Capt. Ronald Thompson was killed when his Tiger struck the ground during a practice formation loop.
  • 14 January 1968 – Opposing solo Lt. Bill Worley was killed when his Tiger crashed during a practice double immelman.
  • 30 August 1970 – Lt. Ernie Christensen belly-landed his F-4J Phantom at the Eastern Iowa Airport in Cedar Rapids with one engine stuck in afterburner. He ejected safely, while the aircraft ran off the runway.
  • June 4, 1971 – CDR Harley Hall safely ejected after his Phantom caught fire and crashed during practice over Narragansett Bay near the ex-NAS Quonset Point in Rhode Island.
  • 8 January 1972 – Lt. Larry Watters was killed when his Skyhawk struck the ground while practicing inverted flight.
  • 8 March 1973 – Capt. John Fogg, Lt. Marlin Wiita and LCDR Don Bentley survived a multi-aircraft mid-air collision during practice over the Superstition Mountains in California.
  • 26 July 1973 – 2 pilots and a crew chief were killed in a mid-air collision between 2 Phantoms over Lakehurst, NJ during an arrival practice. Team Leader LCDR Skip Umstead, Capt. Mike Murphy and ADJ1 Ron Thomas perished. The rest of the season was cancelled after this incident.
  • 22 February 1977 – Opposing solo Lt. Nile Kraft was killed when his Skyhawk struck the ground during practice.
  • 8 November 1978 – One of the solo Skyhawks struck the ground after low roll during arrival maneuvers at NAS Miramar. Navy Lieutenant Michael Curtain was killed.
  • April 1980 – Lead Solo Lt. Jim Ross was unhurt when his Skyhawk suffered a fuel line fire during a show at NS Roosevelt Roads, Puerto Rico. LT Ross stayed with and landed the plane which left the end of the runway and taxied into the woods after a total hydraulic failure upon landing.
  • 22 February 1982 – Lt. Cmdr Stu Powrie, Lead Solo was killed when his Skyhawk struck the ground during winter training at Naval Air Facility El Centro, California just after a dirty loop.
  • 13 July 1985 – Lead and Opposing Solo Skyhawks collided during a show at Niagara Falls, killing opposing solo Lt. Cmdr. Mike Gershon. Lt. Andy Caputi ejected and parachuted to safety.[27]
  • 12 February 1987 – Lead solo Lt. Dave Anderson ejected from his Hornet after a dual engine flameout during practice near El Centro, CA.
  • 23 January 1990 – Two Blue Angel Hornets suffered a mid-air collision during a practice at El Centro. Marine Corps Maj. Charles Moseley ejected safely. Cmdr. Pat Moneymaker landed his airplane, but it never flew again.[28]
  • October 28, 1999 – Lt. Cmdr. Kieron O'Connor, flying in the front seat of a two-seat Hornet, and recently selected demonstration pilot Lt. Kevin Colling (in the back seat) struck the ground during circle and arrival maneuvers in Valdosta, Georgia. Neither pilot survived.[29]
  • 2 December 2004 – Lt. Ted Steelman ejected from his F/A-18 approximately one mile off Perdido Key after his aircraft struck the water, suffering catastrophic engine and structural damage. He suffered minor injuries.[30]
  • 21 April 2007 – Lt. Cmdr. Kevin J. Davis crashed his Hornet near the end of the Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort airshow in Beaufort, South Carolina[31] and was killed.[32][33]

Other incidents involving former Blue Angels

  • 8 March 1951 – LCDR Johnny Magda, while flying in Korea, was the first former Blue Angel killed in combat.
  • 27 January 1973 – CDR Harley Hall (1970 team leader) was shot down flying an F-4J over Vietnam, and was officially listed as Missing In Action.

In the media

John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John with Blue Angels, 1982
  • The Blue Angels was a dramatic television series, starring Dennis Cross and Don Gordon, inspired by the team's exploits and filmed with the cooperation of the Navy. It aired in syndication from 26 September 1960 to 3 July 1961.[34]
  • The Blue Angels were the subject of "Flying Blue Angels," a pop song recorded by George, Johnny and the Pilots (Coed Co 555), that debuted on Billboard Magazine's "Bubbling Under the Hot 100" chart on 11 September 1961.
  • Threshold: The Blue Angels Experience was a 1975 documentary film, written by Dune author Frank Herbert, featuring the team in practice and performance during their F-4J Phantom period; many of the aerial photography techniques pioneered in Threshold were later used in the film Top Gun.[35]
  • In 2005, the Discovery Channel aired a documentary miniseries, Blue Angels: A Year in the Life, focusing on the intricate day-to-day details of that year's training and performance schedule.[36][37]
  • The video for the American rock band Van Halen's 1986 release "Dreams" consists of Blue Angels performance footage. The video was originally shot featuring the Blues in the A-4 Skyhawk. A later video features the F/A-18 Hornet.
  • The Blue Angels appeared on an episode[specify] of Tim Allen's television sitcom Home Improvement as themselves.
  • The Blue Angels made a brief appearance on I Love Toy Trains part 3.
  • The Blue Angels were featured in the IMAX film Magic of Flight.
  • In 2009, the MythBusters enlisted the aid of Blue Angels to help test the myth that a sonic boom could shatter glass.[citation needed]

Notable alumni

See also

References

  1. ^ a b History of the Blue Angels[dead link], Blue Angels official website.
  2. ^ http://www.blueangels.navy.mil/show/faq.aspx
  3. ^ Campbell, War Paint, p. 171.
  4. ^ a b Blue Angels Frequently Asked Questions[dead link]
  5. ^ Flights with the Blue Angels
  6. ^ McCullough, Amy (9 November 2009). "Abort Launch: Air shows to do without Fat Albert’s famed JATO". Marine Corps Times (Gannett Company): p. 6. 
  7. ^ a b c "Blue Angels commander steps down after subpar performance". CNN. 27 May 2011. http://www.cnn.com/2011/US/05/27/virginia.blue.angels/. Retrieved 28 May 2011. 
  8. ^ Fort Walton, Florida, "'Blue Angels' To Pensacola – Navy Flight Exhibition Team Is Transferred", Playground News, Thursday 14 July 1949, Volume 4, Number 24, page 2.
  9. ^ History of the Blue Angels[dead link]. blueangels.navy.mil.
  10. ^ Blue Angels Monumental Moments
  11. ^ Moon, Troy (31 October 2008). "Blues Angels Pilot, Other Grounded". Pensacola News Journal. http://www.pnj.com/article/20081031/SPORTS1001/810310363. Retrieved 4 November 2008. [dead link]
  12. ^ Griggs, Travis (2 November 2008). "No. 4 jet missing from Blue Angels". Pensacola News Journal. http://www.pnj.com/article/20081102/NEWS01/811020335/1006/NEWS01. Retrieved 4 November 2008. [dead link]
  13. ^ Scutro, Andrew, "2 Blue Angels found guilty, await punishment", Military Times, 8 November 2008.
  14. ^ "End of JATO for Blue Angels!"[dead link], blueangels.navy.mil, November 2009
  15. ^ Barrel Roll Break as performed on 21 May 2011 and 22 May 2011, Youtube.com
  16. ^ Blue Angels Cancel Naval Academy Airshow. blueangels.navy.mil.
  17. ^ http://www.aero-news.net/index.cfm?do=main.textpost&id=ea4cc087-409e-4c72-8e2c-78c3a42d491b
  18. ^ http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/library/news/2011/09/mil-110901-nns02.htm
  19. ^ http://www.nbcsandiego.com/news/local/128900393.html
  20. ^ http://www.military.com/news/article/navy-news/blue-angels-use-biofuel-at-patuxent-air-show.html
  21. ^ "Joint Services Open House (Andrews AFB) 2008". AirshowStuff.com. 17 May 2008. http://www.airshowstuff.com/andrewsafb2008.htm. Retrieved 28 May 2011. 
  22. ^ Blue Angels FAQ[dead link]
  23. ^ Investigators probe Blue Angels crash, MSNBC, 22 April 2007
  24. ^ Blue Angels Alumni FAQ, last updated 17 March 2007.
  25. ^ Blue Angels crash artifacts found 50 years later[dead link], Associated Press, 3 March 2009
  26. ^ Basham, Dusty, "Blue Angel Pilot Killed – Jet Fighter Falls Near Apalachicola", Playground Daily News, Fort Walton Beach, Florida, Monday Morning, 16 March 1964, Volume 18, Number 27, pages 1, 2.
  27. ^ "Navy Blue Angel Aviators Die in Crash", 28 October 1999, accessed 23 April 2007
  28. ^ "Pilot Blamed In Blue Angel Crash", Pensacola News Journal, 13 June 1990, archived at The Moneymaker Family Tree, accessed 23 April 2007
  29. ^ "Blue Angel crash victims identified", CNN, 28 October 1999, accessed 23 April 2007
  30. ^ "Blue Angels Pilot Ejects Before Plane Crashes", Fox News, 2 December 2004, accessed 23 April 2007
  31. ^ Pilot killed in S.C. Blue Angel crash[dead link]"
  32. ^ U.S. Navy "Blue Angels" jet crashes. reuters
  33. ^ Blue Angels Pilot fascinated by flying[dead link]. yahoo.com
  34. ^ Blue Angels TV series, 1960
  35. ^ IMDb.com
  36. ^ Blue Angels: A Year in the Life[dead link]
  37. ^ "Blue Angels: A Year in the Life" (2005)
  38. ^ "Combat pilot in two wars led Blue Angels". Los Angeles Times. 7 December 2007. Archived from the original on 11 January 2008. http://web.archive.org/web/20080111064544/http://www.latimes.com/news/printedition/california/la-me-rhodes7dec07,1,4242966.story?coll=la-headlines-pe-california. Retrieved 13 December 2007. 

Further reading

External links


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