See the Blue Angels Take Flight

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Obsessed with aviation?

Love to see air shows?

By Peggy Hattendorf – Travel Editor

Add a performance by The Blue Angels, the U.S. Navy Flight Demonstration Squadron, to your “travel must-see” list.  It’s a great reason for a quick trip to or through Pensacola, Florida, to experience the thrills of seeing these highly-trained pilots. The pilots exemplify precision techniques and aerobatic maneuvers directed and delivered in perfectly orchestrated formation.

The Blue Angels

Formed in 1946, the Blue Angels Squadron is the second oldest formal flying aerobatic team (under the same name) in the world. It is composed of 16 officers and 110 enlisted personnel from the Navy and the Marine Corp. The airshows are viewed by 15 million spectators every year.

In 2016, Boeing was awarded a$12 million contract to start converting Boeing F/A 18 E/F Super Hornets for use by the Blue Angels.



The Airshow

There’s an extensive nationwide performance schedule as well as practices and airshows in the home of the Blue Angels, Pensacola, Florida. The city and the Naval Air Station exhibit year-round hometown pride during the practices and air shows.

The jets await their commands in perfect order on the runway. With the roar of the engines, the excitement begins. The squadron flies the Delta formation with 4 jets or even 6 jets. While flying a tight diamond formation, the airmen maintain an 18-inch wing-tip to canopy separation.  The fastest speed recorded at an airshow was 700 mph or just under Mach 1, which is equal to the speed of sound.

Other jaw-dropping airshow maneuvers include:

  • the opposing passes – two aircraft flying toward each other as if on a collision course
  • the mirror formation – two jets flying back-to-back or belly-to-belly
  • the inverted position or wingtip-to-wingtip – with one jet flying upside down
  • vertical take-offs
  • take-offs with landing gear still fully extended adding to the drag of the aircraft

The price of admission varies based on the city. In some cities, the show is free, but general admission is usually about $30. For upcoming performances by the Blue Angels, visit U.S. Navy Blue Angels.


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