Blue Angels History
The Blue Angels have become synonymous with thrilling high speed aerial acrobats and precision squadron formations. Currently, the Blue Angels perform almost every weekend at aerial shows throughout the United States. The flying aces aid United States military recruiting, proudly representing Navy and Marine Corp aviation to the United States people as well as other countries. The unit also serves as international ambassadors of goodwill. Only the finest pilots in the Navy or Marine Corp are eligible to serve on the long-running Blue Angels demonstration team.
Formation of the Blue Angels was first authorized by Admiral Chester W. Nimitz who served as the Chief of Naval Operations. The team formed in April 1946 and chose the name Blue Angels after the famed New York Blue Angel nightclub. The first aircraft used by the team included the F6F Hellcat, F8F Bearcat, and SNJ Texan. Other planes that performed that performed in the late 1940s to present included F9F-2 Panther, F9F-5 Panther, F9F-8 Cougar, F11F-1 Tiger, F-4J Phantom II, and A-4F Skyhawk II. Historic support aircraft like the R4D Sky Train, R5C Commando, R5D Skymaster, and C-121 Super Constellation also traveled with the team. The Blue Angels quickly became renowned as the best of the best in aviation around the world performing impressive demonstrations in jets bearing the United States Navy’s colors of blue and gold. The voluntary team is made up of 16 officers from a pool of applicants from the Navy and Marine Corp. The team currently uses the Boeing F/A-18 Hornet and Lockheed Martin C-130, referred to as ‘Fat Albert’, aircrafts during their shows. The aircraft are specially modified for the team. Because of the intense training required to complete the aerial maneuvers, there are no backup pilots on the Blue Angels team.
Criteria for pilot selection to the elite team are very stringent. Just to apply, the applicant must be an active-duty carrier-qualified Navy or Marine Corp tactical jet pilot with over 1,250 flight hours. Applicant questions consist not only of military flight background but also personal questions to ensure only the best representatives of the Navy and Marine Corp are selected for the prestigious position. The applicant must submit their application to the team directly via the Application Officer. Then the pilot must attend a scheduled show early in the season to observe first-hand the Blue Angels in action. An interview is then setup in Pensacola, Florida during the mid-season. The current team must unanimously vote in favor of selecting the applicant in order for the pilot to make the team. In a typical year, new members are selected to relieve departing members. The vacancies usually include one Marine C-130 pilot, two support officers, and three tactical pilots. Many selectees have completed TOPGUN training although that is not a requirement.
The Commanding Officer, who also serves as Flight Leader, is hand selected by the Chief of Naval Training. In order to be chosen to lead the Blue Angels, the commanding officer referred to as the “Boss” must have completed at least 3,000 tactical jet flight hours and have experience commanding a tactical jet squadron. The honor of flying the Number 1 position is bestowed on the Boss. Due to the stringent flight time requirements, the average age of the Blue Angels pilots is 33 year old. The average tour of duty as a Blue Angels pilot is 3 to 4 years for officers and 2 to 3 years for enlisted personnel. Once the tour is completed, the pilot is returned to regular duty in the United States Military but can proudly state they served in one of the finest aerial units in the world.Blue
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