Disaster was averted Wednesday night when two Blue Angels pilots made contact while conducting a flyover with the Air Force Thunderbirds near Pensacola Beach, Florida.
The incident happened while the jets were flying in the Delta formation, according to Lt. Joe Hontz, spokesman for the Blue Angels.
“Two of the jets in the Blue Angel Delta formation encountered unexpected wake turbulence,” Hontz said, “causing a very brief and minor contact between the aircraft.”
According to another Navy official, who spoke on background, the aircraft required minor maintenance following the paint-swap but are currently back in service.
“It is a testament to the training of the pilots that this incident remained very benign,” Hontz said. “The Blue Angels train in an environment where they fly extremely close — inches away from one another — and are fully prepared to respond and recover should minor contact occur.”
Less than a year ago, Blue Angel pilot and Marine Capt. Jeff Kuss died after his plane crashed shortly after take-off in Smyrna, Tennessee. The crash was the elite flight demonstration team’s first in nearly a decade.
Both pilots involved in Wednesday’s incident have been cleared to resume normal operations and are with the team in Beaufort, South Carolina, to headline the MCAS Beaufort Airshow starting April 29.