Saw this one and couldn’t resist!

It’s nine minutes long, but well worth it for the commentary if nothing else.

From the Blues website-

In 1946, the Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Chester Nimitz, had a vision to create a flight exhibition team in order to raise the public’s interest in naval aviation and boost Navy morale. In the 1940’s, we thrilled audiences with our precision combat maneuvers in the F6 Hellcat, the F8 Bearcat and the F9 Panther. During the 1950’s, we refined our demonstration with aerobatic maneuvers in the F9 Cougar and F-11 Tiger and introduced the first six-plane delta formation, still flown to this day. By the end of the 1960’s, we were flying the F-4 Phantom, the only two seat aircraft flown by the delta formation. In 1974, we transitioned to the A-4 Skyhawk, a smaller and lighter aircraft with a tighter turning radius allowing for a more dynamic flight demonstration. In 1986, we celebrated our 40th Anniversary by unveiling the Boeing F/A-18 Hornet, which we still fly to this day.
In 1949, it became necessary for the Blue Angels to operate a support aircraft to move personnel and equipment between show sites. These support aircraft including the Douglas R4D Sky Train, the Curtiss R5C Commando, the Douglas R5D Skymaster, and the Lockheed C-121 Super Constellation. In 1970 the team received the Lockheed Martin C-130, affectionately known as “Fat Albert.”

For any kid that ever had a chance to go to an airshow, the Blue Angels were and still are the pinnacle of ‘demonstration’ teams (yeah, yeah, I know- Thunderbirds for the USAF types- But they didn’t start until 1953, so they are Johnny come latelys). Β πŸ™‚

For any aviator, the precision and tightness of the formations leaves even veteran pilots in wonder, as they ‘know’ the air isn’t smooth and the concentration it takes to fly, much less what it takes to fly in close formation for that length of time it takes to fly a show. The Blues routinely pull 7Gs during maneuvers, and do it WITHOUT G-suits!

The Defense Media Network has a nice write up HERE on the Blues with some great pictures!

If you ever get to Pensacola, FL, go to the Naval Aviation Museum there, and go to the atrium. You’ll see these hanging from the ceiling…P3300012

Walk around them and look, this is actually how tight a formation the Blues fly!!! And these wre the actual A-4Es they flew in the 1974-1986 timeframe. I was lucky enough to get to see the Blues fly three times in Pensacola, 1973, 1982 and 1990. The ‘home show’ as it’s called is the last show of the year, and they pretty much let it ALL hang out!


TBT… — 23 Comments

  1. What will happen when it’s all about drones? Will there be drone Blues? Guys sitting in a trailer in Carson, VA flying drones from a carrier, while eating Ho-Ho’s and sucking down a 32 oz. soda?

    Sci-Fi or the future?

    I’m a big Bearcat fan. Love them at the Reno Air Races.

  2. Is it just me, or does the F8F Bearcat look exactly like the Focke-Wulf 190 to you, too?

  3. LL- Hopefully THAT never happens…

    Old 1811- Yep, DEFINITELY a close match. Probably on of the reasons they never deployed them to the Atlantic.

  4. A well tuned 2800 is almost musical to listen to. Setting the mags can be a pain in the ass, though. πŸ˜‰

  5. Those Bearcats are just beautiful. I first saw the Blue Angels at an airshow in the early ’60s, and I think that’s when I started leaning toward the Navy for my military service.

  6. Everyone knows the premier USAF aerial demo team was The Four Horsemen. πŸ™‚

  7. The Hot Chick and I saw the Angels perform at Willow Grove. Not exactly sure when, but another highlight of the show was a high speed pass by an F-14.

    And yes, I was in the Navy before the F-14 entered the Fleet. And no, I never saw Eugene Burton Ely fly.

  8. That was incredible. No other word for it.

    I was privileged to see the Angles perform at what was then JNAS Willow Grove… must’ve been about ten years ago. Completely blew me away. Not the coolest thing I saw at the show, since they had a B-2 Spirit pull a few passes over the runway, as well as a Combined Arms Tactical Demonstration (F/A-18s, A-10s, AH-1s and Marine Force Recon) against a simulated enemy base complete with simulated pyrotechnics, but the Blues were darn close.

    Got to see Fat Albert do a JATO demonstration at the same show. *THAT* was freakin’ awesome. Didn’t realize how lucky I was at the time, since it’s my understanding that the Angels ran out of usable JATO bottles a few years later.

    • Raptor, the show you described at Willow Grove sounds very much the same as what we saw, especially the JATO takeoff of the 130. But we saw no B-2 and The Hot Chick says we saw it much longer than ten years ago. We also walked through a C-5 and that is one big airplane.

  9. For some reason it got pretty dusty in here at the end… Nice to see some history in action and those Bearcats dancing in the sky.

  10. That video brought tears to my eyes. Thank you for posting it.

  11. Grog- Yep, you needed a REALLY skilled ADR! At least a senior first class, if not a Chief!

    Rev- Envy! I saw the T-Birds in 65 at Barksdale.

    Drifter- LOL

    John- They used to do Willow Grove on a regular basis! I saw the blues in F-4s, A-4s and F-18s… Great show every time!

    Raptor- Yep, Fat Albert on JATO was a trip! πŸ™‚

    Rick/Roy- Yep, did here too…

  12. Saw them perform at Reno Air Races about 1980. A-4 roll rate is (I think) 720 degrees per second. Number six takes off, passing in front of the grandstand about about 200 feet off the runway, rolls inverted, retracts his landing gear, rolls upright, goes full power and climbs out at about 60 degrees nose up. Those were the days.

  13. For several years I had a house above Lake Washington in Renton, WA. The Blue Angels always appeared during SeaFair and the view from our deck was as good as any seat in the area. Amazing the number of friends I had on that particular Sunday. The house was high on a hill and often we were looking down at the Angels.

  14. They played Willow Run a couple weeks ago, and my son won a few tickets to a news schmooze meet and greet the night before.
    Flight leader is from Michigan.

  15. Roger- Thanks!

    RHT- Yep, 720deg/sec… *&^%$%! QUICK!!! Got my head banged off the canopy a few times with hot dog pilots in the TA-4

    WSF- Now THAT had to be a view! πŸ™‚

    Ed- I’m betting he won’t forget that!

  16. I saw them once or twice in the late 60s at Ellington Field, flying F4 Phantoms. Those F4s were screaming but it took them a long time to come back around when they went past you. Coolest thing I had ever seen.

  17. Hey Old NFO;

    man, the rain here stirred up the pollen lemme tell you. Thank you for posting that. Pensacola was still one of my favorite museum trip. Would like to go again soon….when my schedule permits.