1. In 1946, Admiral Chester Nimitz, the chief of Naval Operations, ordered the creation of a flight exhibition team. The mission was simple, Admiral Nimitz wanted to raise Navy morale, showcase naval air power, raise the public’s interest in naval aviation, and help the Navy generate public and political support for a larger allocation of the shrinking defense budget.
2. The name of the group was initially the Navy Flight Exhibition Team, but one of the pilots saw the name of New York City’s Blue Angel Nightclub in The New Yorker Magazine and the name stuck. The team showcased themselves as the “Blue Angels” for the first time in Omaha, Nebraska on July 21st, 1946.
3. The Blue Angels have flown 8 different demonstration aircraft, along with 5 support aircraft since 1946.
- Grumman F6F-5 Hellcat:1946
- Grumman F8F-1 Bearcat:1946 to1949
- Grumman F9F-2 Panther: 1949 to 1950
- Grumman F9F-5 Panther: 1951 to 1955
- Grumman F9F-8 Cougar: 1955 to 1957
- Grumman F11F-1 (F-11) Tiger: 1957 to 1968
- McDonnell Douglas F-4J Phantom I: 1969 to 1974
- Douglas A-4F Skyhawk: 1974 to 1986
- McDonnell Douglas F/A-18A/B Hornet: 1986 to 2010
- McDonnell Douglas F/A-18C/D Hornet: Present
- Douglas R4D Skytrain: 1949 to 1955
- Curtiss R5C Commando: 1953
- Douglas R5D Skymaster: 1956 to 1968
- Lockheed C-121 Super Constellation: 1969 to 1973
- Lockheed C-130 Hercules “Fat Albert”: 1970 to present
4. The highest speed flown at any air show is 700 mph, which is rite under Mach 1. This formation is called the “Sneak Pass” and involves a solo pilot flying 50 feet above the ground! While 700 mph is extremely fast, these planes can reach speeds up to 1400 mph! The lowest speed flown is 120 mph.
5. The 6 Blue Angel pilots, “The Blues”, fly on average 70 different shows at 34 locations throughout the United States every year. The team still uses many of the same techniques, and styles today that they first used back in 1946. The Blue Angels have flown for more than 260 million spectators since 1946.\
6. The Blue Angels are the second oldest flying aerobatic team in the entire World! The oldest is the French Patrouille de France, who were formed in 1931.
7. The current F/A-18 Hornets are all former fleet aircraft, they are capable of being combat, and carrier ready in less than 72 hours! All the aircraft are modified for better handling, and precise control.
8. The Blues do not wear G-suits. Air bladders inside the G-suit would repeatedly inflate and deflate, which would interfere with the control stick between the pilot’s legs. So instead, the Blue Angel pilots have to tense their muscles to prevent the blood from rushing from the head, knocking them unconscious.
9. Blue Angel pilots are made up of Navy and Marine Corps aviators, hopeful applicants are required to have a minimum of 1,250 tactical jet hours and carrier-qualified. Applicants “rush” the team at multiple air shows, sit on on team briefs, post show activities, and social events. These rushes are asked to tell a joke prior to the briefs, and graded accordingly. Team members vote in secret on the next years pilot selections, with no accountability to higher Navy authority. All votes have to unanimous.
10. Some of the air maneuvers require the jets to fly extremely close, in a maneuver called the “Diamond 360”, the jets fly an astonishing 18 inches apart. Other maneuvers include barrel rolls, formation loops, and transitions from one formation to another. Solos showcase the high performance capabilities of their individual jets through fast rolls, slow rolls, tight turns, and high-speed passes.