Navy Flight Demonstration Squadron [NAVFLIGHTDEMRON]
The Blue Angels' mission is to enhance Navy and Marine Corps recruiting, and to represent the Naval Service to the United States civilian community, its elected leadership and foreign nations. The Blue Angels serve as positive role models and goodwill ambassadors for the US Navy and Marine Corps.
The Blue Angel F/A-18s have the nose cannon removed, a smoke-oil tank installed and a spring installed on the stick which applies pressure for better formation and inverted flying. Otherwise, the aircraft that the squadron flies are the same as those in the fleet. Each Blue Angel aircraft is fleet capable and able to return to combat duty aboard an aircraft carrier within 72 hours. The Blue Angels currently have 11 jets: numbers 1 through 6, 2 two-seat (#7) jets and 3 spare jets.
A Blue Angels' flight demonstration exhibits the choreographed refinements of Navy-trained flying skills. It includes the graceful, aerobatic maneuvers of the four-plane Diamond Formation, in concert with the fast-paced, high-performance maneuvers of its two solo pilots. Finally, the team illustrates the pinnacle of precision flying, performing maneuvers locked as a unit in the renowned, six-jet Delta Formation.
Stationed during the show season at Forrest Sherman Field, Naval Air Station Pensacola, Florida, the squadron spends the winter (January through March) training pilots and new crewmembers at Naval Air Facility El Centro, Calif.
At the end of World War II, Chief of Naval Operations, Adm. Chester W. Nimitz, ordered the formation of a flight demonstration team to showcase naval aviation. The team performed its first flight demonstration less than a year later, June 1946. Flight Leader, Lt. Cmdr. Roy "Butch" Voris led the team flying the Grumman F6F Hellcat at Craig Field, Naval Air Station (NAS) Jacksonville, Florida.
The Navy Flight Demonstration Team transitioned to the Grumman F8F Bearcat, August 25, two months after the first demonstration. In 1947 Flight Leader, Lt. Cmdr. Robert Clarke, introduced the famous diamond formation, now considered the Blue Angel trademark. At the end of the 1940s, the Blue Angel Team was flying its first jet aircraft, the Grumman F9F-2 Panther.
In 1950, the Korean Conflict put a great demand on naval aviation. The Navy responded by reassigning the Blue Angels to the aircraft carrier USS Princeton (CV-37), where the Blue Angels became the nucleus of Fighter Squadron 191 (VF-191), known as Satan's Kittens.
The Blues were reorganized in 1951 and reported to NAS Corpus Christi, Texas where the team began flying the F9F-5, the faster version of the Panther. The team remained in Corpus Christi until the winter of 1954. The beginning of 1955 brought the team to its present home, Sherman Field, NAS Pensacola, Florida where it transitioned to flying the swept-wing Grumman F9F-8 Cougar.
The ensuing 20 years saw the Blue Angels transition into two more aircraft. In 1957 the team began flying the Grumman F11F-1 Tiger. By 1969 the team was performing in its first dual-engine jet, the McDonnell Douglas F-4J Phantom II.
In December 1974, the Blue Angel Team reorganized as the U.S. Navy Flight Demonstration Squadron establishing Cmdr. Tony Less as the commanding officer. The squadron added support officers and redefined its mission to support Navy recruiting. The Blue Angel Squadron also donned a new aircraft in 1974, the McDonnell Douglas A-4F Skyhawk II.
On November 8, 1986, the Blue Angels completed their 40th anniversary. During the ceremony the squadron unveiled its present aircraft, the sleek McDonnell Douglas (now Boeing) F/A-18 Hornet.
In 1992 the Blue Angel Squadron deployed for its first European tour in 19 years. Over one million people in Sweden, Finland, Russia, Romania, Bulgaria, Italy, the United Kingdom and Spain saw the Blue Angels perform during their 30-day tour. In November 1998, Cmdr. Patrick Driscoll landed the first "blue Jet" on a "haze gray and underway" aircraft carrier, USS Harry S Truman (CVN-75).
The air shows throughout the 1999-show season brought out more than 15 million spectators, and since 1946, the team had flown for over 337 million people.
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