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Damaged Blue Angels jet leaves Vero Beach Regional Airport

The Blue Angels F/A-18 Hornets fly in a tight diamond formation maintaining 18-inch wing tip to canopy separation.

This is the No. 6 plane Lt. Brandon Hempler flies for the Blue Angels.

VERO BEACH — The last of the Blue Angels has left the city.

The remaining F/A-18 jet departed from Vero Beach Regional Airport Tuesday morning, heading to Jacksonville for repairs, said Airport Manager Eric Menger.

The jet was left behind after last month’s Blue Angels demonstration during the Vero Beach Air Show because of issues with landing gear, he said.

A two-seater jet, with an additional pilot, arrived at the airport Tuesday to retrieve the plane, he said.

The damaged plane currently is en route to the Naval Air Station Cecil Field in Jacksonville, Menger said. The landing gear was left down to avoid any issues in Jacksonville, he said.

“They’re on their way home,”  he said.

Bird strike causes $1M in damages, can be seen Saturday, April 21, 2018 during the Vero Beach Air Show. CONTRIBUTED VIDEO BY TYLER SAVRDA

The jet that left Vero Beach Tuesday was one of two that didn’t leave with the others after the air show.

The No. 5 Blue Angels plane was able to safely land after a bird flew into an engine during a performance, causing about $1 million in damage to the jet, officials said.

“All of a sudden, (the pilot) veers off and you heard a ‘crack’ ” followed by a flash of fire, said retired Air Force Col. Marty Zickert, the liaison between the Blue Angels and the Vero Beach Air Show.

A bird — likely a buzzard — was sucked into the Hornet’s left engine, which disabled it.

That plane was repaired and left Vero Beach in late April.


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