While the SEALs may be the unseen pride of the U.S. Navy, the Blue Angel pilots are the impressive face of the second largest military branch. There are currently 17 servicemen serving with the Blue Angels; that number includes three pilots from the United States Marine Corps. In their most recent appearance on Saturday, the Angels flew in North Carolina at the “Wings Over Wayne Air Show” and wowed the audience, which WNCN estimated to number around 100,000.
The team currently flies the F-18 Hornet, but the North Carolina performance featured the first full demonstration of the F-22 Raptor.
According to their official website, the Blue Angels were formed after World War II in an attempt to “keep the public interested in naval aviation.” They began by flying the F6F Hellcat and F8F Bearcat. Since then, they have used over half a dozen planes.
The planes are not combat capable, but they can land on aircraft carriers and can be made ready for combat in roughly 72 hours. Because of budget cuts, the team has cut back on the number of appearances that they make each year. However, they will have three performances in June and five in July.