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OC Air Show: Thrills above the beach

The Blue Angels demonstration team appears to be flying almost on top of one another.

U.S. Navy Blue Angels have been thrilling spectators for 73 years

The U.S. Navy Blue Angels performed their first show on June 15, 1946, in Florida and have maintained a busy schedule ever since, performing from spring to fall each year for more than 11 million people each year. In addition, team members annually visit more than 50,000 school children and patients in hospitals.

The six FA-18 Hornets were the stars of this year’s Ocean City Air Show June 15 and 16 attended by an estimated crowd of more than 200,000 over the weekend.

The six pilots and 100 maintenance and support staff serve on the team two to three years performing more than 30 shows in 2019 between March and November. The Blue Angels are based in Pensacola, Fla., and train January through March in El Centro, Calif.

While the FA-18 is capable of flying just under Mach 2, 1,400 mph, and breaking the speed of sound, restrictions keep the jets flying between 700 mph and 120 mph during their numerous show maneuvers.

The Canadian Forces Snowbirds turn upside down and make a dive.
Four U.S. Navy Blue Angels pilots walk toward the runway and their jets prior to a practice run.
Four of the six Blue Angels separate from the other two jets. They fly as close as 18 inches apart during the Diamond 360 maneuver.
Two pilots fly upside down in a four jet pass over the beach.
The entire Blue Angels team flies skyward in formation.
Blue Angels pilot Lt. Comm. Andre Webb, one of six for this year’s demonstration team, answers questions during media day.
Pulling Gs and flying inverted are hallmarks of the Blue Angels demonstration team.
With landing gear out, a pair of Blue Angels performs a cross-over maneuver.
Blue Angels blow out smoke before taking off from the Wallops Island airstrip.
Pilot Scooter Yoak flies a vintage P-51 Mustang painted in tribute to all service members.
The F-16 Viper, one the Air Force’s premier multi-role fighters, has a top speed of 1,400 mph.
The Candian Forces Snowbirds perform a burst.
A U.S. Air Force F-16 Viper rolls on the tarmac at the Wallops Flight Facility on Wallops Island, Va.