The Blue Angels Navy Flight Demonstration Squadron
The Amazing Blue Angels
The United States Navy's Navy Flight Demonstration Squadron, popularly known as the Blue Angels, are an amazing sight to see!
The Blue Angels say they are on a "mission to enhance Navy and Marine Corps recruiting efforts and to represent the naval service to the United States", but I think they are just plain fun to see.
About the Blue Angels
The Blue Angels Squadron was formed in 1946 and is the world's first officially sanctioned military aerial demonstration team, as well as the oldest currently flying aerobatics team.
The squadron is stationed at Forrest Sherman Field, Naval Air Station Pensacola, Florida, during the show season. However, the squadron spends January through March training pilots and new team members at Naval Air Facility El Centro, California.
The Blue Angels first flew three aircraft in formation, then four, and currently operate six aircraft per show. A seventh aircraft is for backup, in the event of mechanical problems with one of the other aircraft, and for giving public relations "demonstration flights" to fortunate civilians, usually selected from a press pool.
This aerobatic team is split into "the Diamond" (Blue Angels 1 through 4) and the Opposing Solos (Blue Angels 5 and 6). Most of their displays alternate 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, or transitions from one formation to another.
The Opposing Solos usually perform maneuvers just under the speed of sound which showcase the capabilities of their individual F/A-18 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, narrowly missing one another) and mirror formations (back-to-back. belly-to-belly, or wingtip-to-wingtip, with one jet flying inverted).
At the end of the routine, all six aircraft join in the Delta formation. After a series of flat passes, turns, loops, and rolls performed in this formation, they execute the team's signature "fleur-de-lis" closing maneuver.
The Blue Angels tight diamond formation
18" wingtip-to-canopy separation
The First Blue Angels
On April 24, 1946 Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Chester Nimitz issued a directive ordering the formation of a flight exhibition team (the first such official venture by any of the Armed Services) 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 squadron, naming him Officer-in-Charge and Flight Leader. Voris selected two fellow instructors to join him (Lt. Maurice "Wick" Wickendoll and Lt. Mel Cassidy, both veterans of the War in the Pacific), and the three 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 June 15 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 Craig Field, Florida.
The group, known simply as the "Navy Flight Exhibition 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.
The team soon became known worldwide for its spectacular aerobatic stunts. During a trip to New York, Lt. Wickendoll came across an advertisement in The New Yorker for the city's popular "Blue Angel" nightclub. Voris liked the name and on July 19 officially made it the team's moniker.
First Blue: The Story of World War II Ace Butch Voris and the Creation of the Blue Angels
Blue Angels: Dreams
A close call!
Through the cockpit window
Blue Angels Cockpit Video
Up, up and away!
It's an upside down world
A Blue Angels Compilation
Can the Public Fly with the Blue Angels?
What are the policies/requirements governing back seat flights in the number 7 jet?
"Orientation flights are given to three members of the local media at each show site. Individuals must be accredited members of the media and are recommended by Navy recruiters and air show sponsors, then reviewed and approved by the Blue Angels. A small number of VIP orientation flights are also offered each year to individuals from television, sports, music and the movie industry. These individuals are selected by the Blue Angels to generate national media coverage and convey a positive image of the squadron and the Navy/Marine Corps. These flights are in direct support of Navy and Marine Corps recruiting objectives".
For more information, please visit the Blue Angels FAQ.
A Fan Rides with the Blue Angels
Blue Angels Links
- Blue Angels : Official Website
The Blue Angels' mission is to enhance Navy and Marine Corps recruiting efforts and to represent the naval service to the United States, its elected leadership and foreign nations. A Blue Angels flight demonstration exhibits choreographed refinements
- 2008 Schedule
The Blue Angels 2008 schedule
Framed Photographic Print
22 in. x 17 in.
Water condensation in the strake vortices of a Hornet during a tight maneuver
Books on the Blue Angels
Want help with the images on your lens?
Free Images and Guides on How to Use Them