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The Blue Angels Navy Flight Demonstration Squadron

Updated on May 5, 2011

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.

Go Navy!

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.

Reference: Wikipedia

First Blue: The Story of World War II Ace Butch Voris and the Creation of the Blue Angels

Blue Angels: Dreams

A close call!

A close call!
A close call!

Through the cockpit window

Through the cockpit window
Through the cockpit window

Blue Angels Cockpit Video

Up, up and away!

Up, up and away!
Up, up and away!

It's an upside down world

It's an upside down world
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

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

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

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Have you seen them? - Any other thoughts?

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    • AstroGremlin profile image

      AstroGremlin 5 years ago

      Yes, the sound alone is awe inspiring. Metal and humans hurtling through the atmosphere under complete control. Engineering and discipline make for an unforgettable performance.

    • profile image

      cmadden 5 years ago

      When we lived in Seattle years ago, we could always tell when it was nearly time for Seafair because the Blue Angels would appear overhead, practicing.

    • rorymullen lm profile image

      rorymullen lm 6 years ago

      I use to live right next to the Blue Angels

    • profile image

      farebuzzz 6 years ago

      I love naval fights...dress code and see to them when a lot of flights fly closely....

    • KimGiancaterino profile image

      KimGiancaterino 7 years ago

      Someone is saying great things about this lens ... Ten Outstanding Performing Arts Lenses.

    • KimGiancaterino profile image

      KimGiancaterino 7 years ago

      I'm dizzy just looking at these photos. You've got some great shots here. I've seen the Blue Angels a few times at air shows. We live close to the Rose Bowl, so there are lots of military fly-bys during major games. Blessed by the Entertainment > Performing Arts Squid Angel.

    • ItsAngel LM profile image

      ItsAngel LM 7 years ago

      i just saw them a few months ago in Charleston, They are awesom.

    • profile image

      moonlitta 7 years ago

      P.s. never seen them but love watching air shows (mainly on TV unfortunately). Th closest I've been is at a military air base for a group training of retiring pilots.

    • profile image

      moonlitta 7 years ago

      Thumbs up from a girl who dreamt to become a pilot:)

    • caketech profile image

      caketech 7 years ago

      I saw them a few years ago when they came to Chattanooga. Truly an awesome sight! I hope to see them again soon.

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      I'm a Pensacola native and a big fan of the Blue Angels. Their shows will knock your socks off. Thanks for your site. A great tribute!

    • profile image

      martialartstraining 7 years ago


      Great lens!!

      I loved reading about these planes!!

      It is so cool to learn all about them!!

      thanks for sharing this with us!!

    • PNWtravels profile image

      Vicki Green 7 years ago from Wandering the Pacific Northwest USA

      Yes, they perform at the Seattle Seafair Hydroplane Races nearly every year. It is fantastic watching them practice from the office building where I work!

    • profile image

      julieannbrady 8 years ago

      @julieannbrady: Oh, I see I was already here! Well, that just goes to show you that I need to get a fix of the Blue Angels at least once a month! ;)

    • profile image

      julieannbrady 8 years ago

      My dear YES I have seen them and there is probably NO other experience that gives me such thrill as the Blue Angels! I have some pictures I've not uploaded yet from our air show a few months ago at Jacksonville Beach. Oh, and have you seen my lenses on Distinguished Visitors and The Star Spangled Banner Flyover? LOVE this stuff! Vroom Vroom and awayyyyy we gooooooooooooooo!!! Happy Holidays!

    • Webcodes LM profile image

      Webcodes LM 8 years ago

      Awesome lens. Hope to one day go see them in Pensacola. 5*.

    • Liam Tohms profile image

      Liam Tohms 9 years ago

      Great lens, why not join the Flying and Aviation group today?

    • Dianne Loomos profile image

      Dianne Loomos 9 years ago

      Sorry! I gave you the wrong group! Anchors Aweigh Navy Lenses is the group.

    • idc5 profile image

      idc5 9 years ago

      5* lens

      The Blue Angels are exciting to watch

    • PaulHassing LM profile image

      Paul Hassing 9 years ago

      Living in Australia, I would never have encountered this fascinating topic were it not for your excellent lens. Thank you for broadening my horizon! Best regards, P. :)

    • piedromolinero profile image

      piedromolinero 9 years ago

      A very nice and attracting lens with a lot of interesting information. Thank you for sharing this.

    • profile image

      anonymous 9 years ago

      Terrific photographs. Of course I follow the 'Snowbirds' Canada"s military aerial demonstration team.

    • profile image

      Andy-Po 9 years ago

      Excellent lens (5*)

    • nightbear lm profile image

      nightbear lm 9 years ago

      What a beautiful lens. You can see a lot of hard work. And excellent subject.

    • Paula Atwell profile image

      Paula Atwell 9 years ago from Cleveland, OH

      The Blue Angels are in Cleveland every year for our air show. We get to see them practice and perform. Very cool to watch.

    • Rich-H profile image

      Rich 9 years ago from Surrey, United Kingdom

      Wonderful, action-filled lens. 5*s

    • profile image

      julieannbrady 9 years ago

      We get to see the Blue Angels many times here in Florida. They are an awesome sight. We usually have flyovers of some types for our Jaguars football games -- I'm not sure the Blue Angels, but might have!

    • ArtByLinda profile image

      Linda Hoxie 9 years ago from Idaho

      I love the Blue Angels, I remember seeing them as a child in Southern California. Most recently I was lucky enough to watch the Thunderbirds perform in Idaho. They are amazing! I love this lens, very entertaining. 5* Linda

    • Hekepei profile image

      Hekepei 9 years ago

      well done! me and my husband got to see them on his marine base one time

    • profile image

      Mayflowerblood 9 years ago

      I enjoyed the video and the page =] good one!

    • gypsyman27 lm profile image

      gypsyman27 lm 9 years ago

      I live in Hampton Roads, I see them every day, I don't know...

      ...I was in the airforce so I can fly a jet, I just don't do it anymore. There is no greater thrill than switching to afterburn and lifting off from a field or carrier. But I digress, good lens, you are always very informative and interesting. Now go look at my Len(s):)

    • profile image

      anonymous 9 years ago

      Go to local air shows every year just to see them great lens 5 stars

    • profile image

      anonymous 9 years ago

      I have seen them and they are amazing.You did a great job on this lens.

    • WhiteOak50 profile image

      WhiteOak50 9 years ago

      You put this lens together in a great way! High 5's for sure! The Blue Angels are amazing! Wow...

    • Kiwisoutback profile image

      Kiwisoutback 9 years ago from Massachusetts

      I haven't seen them in a quite a while, but they were cool! They used to come to Massachusetts every now and again, but I don't think they've been anytime recently. Great lens!

    • Spook LM profile image

      Spook LM 9 years ago

      My father in law was the youngest pilot to ever graduate from the South African Airforce. Has flown 165 different types of aircraft and completed 17600 flight hours. Naturally then I loved this lens, magnificent photo's, congrats.

    • OhMe profile image

      Nancy Tate Hellams 9 years ago from Pendleton, SC

      Yes, I have seen them and they are amazing and this lens is amazing. 5*

    • lemonsqueezy lm profile image

      lemonsqueezy lm 9 years ago

      Seen them? Every year. I work in Annapolis and they come flying over my head each year as we approach commissioning week. I toured the Naval Academy Visitor Center for the first time ever this weekend. Go Navy! Awesome lens! 5*

    • RichLeighHD profile image

      RichLeighHD 9 years ago

      Great lens, excellent layout, and superb use of pictures too. Nice work! :)

    • delia-delia profile image

      Delia 9 years ago

      I have had the pleasure of seeing them a couple of times and got to meet them, what an amazing group of pilots, and they are so young! 5*s

    • triathlontraini1 profile image

      triathlontraini1 9 years ago

      Thank you everyone! :)

    • profile image

      anonymous 9 years ago

      never seen them live performing but I'd love to. wonderful lens!

    • profile image

      totalhealth 9 years ago

      nice elns and nice photos

    • profile image

      anonymous 9 years ago

      Photos are fantastic thanks for the information reminds me of things like Squadron633, Topgun and all those kind of films 5 stars. Squadron633 has some fantastic photography although it has more than a few years behind it. Have a great Summer everyone take carexxx

    • The Homeopath profile image

      The Homeopath 9 years ago

      This is awesome! I can't wait for my son to get home - he's going to dig this. Thanks!

    • SusanDeppner profile image

      Susan Deppner 9 years ago from Arkansas USA

      Love the lens - brings back good memories. We lived in Virginia Beach (near NAS Oceana ) and often had the Blue Angels flying over our house. My husband and son had a great personal tour in Pensacola on a Boy Scout trip (helps when your scoutmaster's dad knows a pilot, or maybe he was a pilot!) so we have lots of pictures. I have to say, I never minded the noise when they flew over, either. It just made me very proud.

    • profile image

      youhavegottobekidding 9 years ago

      I have been collecting toy plane since i was i kid. and the Blue Angel was one of my Favs.

      Great Lens.

    • ShannonC LM profile image

      Shannon Chiarenza 9 years ago from Vancouver bc

      Great the worst sunburn of my life watching them at an airshow once...5*

    • SherryHolderHunt profile image

      SherryHolderHunt 9 years ago

      Great lens, the Blue Angels are awesome! We carried our child to see them once.

    • ElizabethJeanAl profile image

      ElizabethJeanAl 9 years ago

      The Blue Angels come to Charleston every spring. We've gone to the show every year since moving to Charleston. I wouldn't miss it.

      I love your lenses.


    • beeobrien lm profile image

      beeobrien lm 9 years ago

      Beautifully done! 5*****

    • WebGazelle LM profile image

      WebGazelle LM 9 years ago

      My favorite flight demonstration squadron. Great lens!

    • Charlino99 profile image

      Tonie Cook 9 years ago from USA

      This is wonderful! If I could give it ten stars, I would.