Memorial To Honor Blue Angel Pilot Nears Completion, Public Dedication

posted in: Miscellaneous | 0

Blue Angels Memorial in Smyrna

The finishing touches are being put on a memorial to honor Marine Capt. Jeff Kuss, who was killed when his F/A-18 Hornet crashed during a practice flight demonstration in Smyrna, Tennessee in June 2016.

Kuss, who was in his second year on the team, was loved by many. He also was popular in the media, since his position as the team’s 2015 narrator also enabled him to give rides to media, VIPs, and local influencers at each show site the Blue Angels attended.

Following the crash, the town of Smyrna wanted to honor Kuss in a special way. In May of 2017, plans were announced to build a permanent memorial for the fallen Blue Angels pilot outside the airport and adjacent to Lee Victory Recreation Park, where the town came together the night of the crash to honor Kuss. Plans for the memorial included pavers, which could be bought for a small donation, and a retired F/A-18 Hornet in Blue Angel colors.

Kuss Memorial Groundbreaking

On October 18th, 2017, groundbreaking for the memorial was held.

On Friday, the most prominent part of the memorial was installed. A retired Blue Angel jet, BuNo 163498, was lifted by crane from a flatbed trailer and into position on an elevated platform in the memorial. The aircraft is on permanent loan from the National Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola, Florida.

Kuss Memorial F-18 Hornet - Smyrna, TNKuss Memorial F-18 Hornet - Smyrna, TN

In a video posted by the Town of Smyrna, some F/A-18 hornets are seen flying over the Blue Angel jet. The flyover was performed by members of Marine Fighter Attack Training Squadron 101 (VMFAT-101), based out of Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, CA. They flew in from California on Thursday, and waited until the plane was placed to do the flyover, then departed on their way to NAS Oceana, VA.

The memorial dedication will be held on June 9 at 10:00 a.m. at Lee Victory Recreation Park in Smyrna and is open the public. For those who can’t attend, the ceremony will be streamed live. Stay tuned to our social media channels for more info.

Canadian Snowbirds Visit Blue Angels, Perform In Pensacola

posted in: Jet Teams | 1

Snowbirds and Blue Angels at Pensacola

The Canadian Forces Snowbirds made a visit to NAS Pensacola, home of the US Navy Blue Angels, ahead of their show in Anderson, SC.

The team arrived Sunday night, and joined the Blues in ‘buzzing the beach’, their tradition when returning home from a show. Because the Snowbirds were low on fuel, the teams did not join up but flew along the white sandy beaches of Pensacola at the same time.

Fans in the area also got a special treat during the week from the Canadian team as they practiced over the base. Traditionally, the Blue Angels practice during the week at Pensacola, with performances open to the public. To have two jet teams perform several times in one week was quite the show!

The teams took the opportunity to ride with each other and discuss best practices. Last year, the US Air Force Thunderbirds stopped by Pensacola for a similar visit.

The teams also took some time to sign autographs following their practice performance.

Snowbirds and Blue Angels Sign AutographsSnowbirds and Blue Angels at Pensacola

Snowbirds and Blue Angels Sign Autographs

Snowbirds and Blue Angels at Pensacola

Blue Angels Add “New” F/A-18B Hornet To Squadron

posted in: Jet Teams | 1

US Navy Blue Angels F/A-18 Hornet

The Blue Angels have a new jet in their squadron! The Blues announced Friday that they’ve taken acquisition of BUNO 162419, a two-seat F/A-18B Hornet.

While this jet is new to the team, it is not new to the fleet. All of the US Navy Blue Angels aircraft are former fleet aircraft. Pictures online show that this particular jet once served with VX-23, the “Salty Dogs”, at NAS Patuxent River, VA. The jet is now painted up in the Blue’s famous blue and gold paint scheme. It will likely be used as a #7 media/backup jet once fully integrated into the team.

Blue Angels Receive New Jet

This new jet comes at a good time as the team was plagued by maintenance issues during the 2017 show season. Even with the best maintainers in the Navy, the team was only able to field five flyable jets at several shows over the summer months. They simply did not have enough aircraft in the squadron.

Further compounding the problem was the grounding of Fat Albert following a crash of a Marine KC-130 in July, which grounded the type. Part of Fat Albert’s role is to quickly retrieve equipment and replacement parts, but with Bert grounded the Blues had to rely on slower methods of getting parts for their jets.

Eventually the team will transition to F/A-18E and F/A-18F Super Hornets, but that is still probably a couple years off. In the mean time, 162419 will help them thrill spectators everywhere they go!

US Navy Blue Angels Delta Flyover Planned For San Diego This Week

posted in: Flyovers, Jet Teams | 2

US Navy Blue Angels Delta Formation

Heads up San Diego! The US Navy Blue Angels will be performing a delta formation flyover this Thursday during a Change of Command ceremony for the Commander of Naval Air Forces (CNAF). Naval Base Coronado shared the news on Facebook earlier today. The six blue and gold jets will fly over Naval Air Station (NAS) North Island at approximately 10:10am on Thursday, January 11th. Check out the graphic below for a better idea of their flight path.

US Navy Blue Angels San Diego Flyover Route

The Blue Angels are working through their 2018 winter training period at NAF El Centro in California, about 90 miles from San Diego. You can find their full 2018 airshow schedule in our forums!

Blue Angels Return To El Centro For 2018 Winter Training Period

posted in: Jet Teams | 7

Blue Angels Return for Winter Training

The Blue Angels have returned to their winter home at Naval Air Facility El Centro in California!

The team flew into the base, located about 87 miles east of San Diego, on January 3rd. They’ll remain at El Centro throughout January, February, and early March, flying several flights a day to perfect the demonstration.

The 10 week, 120 flight period will begin over the desert adjacent to El Centro; once the team feels confident in the demonstration they will begin to fly over the airfield.

This year marks the 51st year the team will use El Centro as their winter training base. The usually calm and warm weather of the Imperial Valley makes southern CA the perfect place for the Blue Angel’s winter training.

The 2018 season will be the Blue Angels’ 72nd show season. We have a copy of their 2018 airshow season schedule here on the blog – see if they’ll be performing near you!

One important member of the team will not be joining the rest of the aircraft though; Fat Albert, the team’s C-130 Hercules transport, has been grounded during an investigation into the crash of a Marine Corps C-130 last summer. A post on Instagram shows her in the maintenance hangar for an inspection. Bert’s Marine pilots typically practice their routine during their own winter training period at Marine Corps Air Station Yuma in Arizona.

Naval Academy Unveils “Blue Angels” Uniforms For 2017 Army-Navy Football Game

posted in: Jet Teams, Miscellaneous | 0

US Naval Academy Blue Angels Football Uniforms

Each year, the Naval Academy brings out the best uniforms for their game versus Army. This year is no different, as the Midshipmen will head onto the field in these amazing Blue Angels-inspired uniforms to face off against the Army Black Knights.

US Naval Academy Blue Angels Football Uniforms

The uniforms are designed as a tribute to the US Navy’s flight demonstration squadron. The uniform will bear a Blue Angels patch on the right sleeve, and the United States Flag on the left sleeve, just like actual Blue Angel uniforms. The helmets will also feature the famous blue and gold F/A-18 Hornets that the Blue Angels fly.

US Naval Academy Blue Angels Football UniformsUS Naval Academy Blue Angels Football Uniforms

“This tribute to the Blue Angels reflects the enthusiastic pride and appreciation we have for the Navy’s premier flying team and the motivation they convey to Navy football and the fleet at large,” Navy Athletic Director Chet Gladchuk said. “The masterminds at Under Armour are always thinking of ways to inspire our troops while still reflecting a deep appreciation for a Naval history that is so ingrained in our game day traditions. Annually, a special Navy uniform has become a statement in this game and brings with it appreciated meaning and a clear message that we are all in.”

Photos from @NavyAthletics Twitter / Navy Athletic Department

Article by Bretten Bailey

Welcome, Boss! New Commander Flies First Blue Angels Training Mission

posted in: Jet Teams | 1

New Boss of the Blue Angels Flies for the 1st Time

Earlier this year, the US Navy Blue Angels announced a new “Boss”had been selected to lead the famous flight demonstration team. Now, he is taking the skies for the first time in a Blue Angels jet!

Commander Eric “Popeye” Doyle will lead the demonstration team during their 2018 and 2019 show seasons. A graduate of Texas A&M, Cmdr. Doyle previously commanded VFA-113 “Stingers”. He assumed command of the squadron from outgoing Boss Capt. Ryan Bernacchi at a change of command ceremony at the National Naval Aviation Museumin Pensacola on November 12th, following the team’s final performance of the season the day before.

New Boss of the Blue Angels Flies for the 1st Time

On November 15th, Cmdr. Doyle strapped into the famous blue and gold hornet and lead a short winter training flight in the skies over Pensacola.

In January, the entire Blue Angels team will deploy to their winter training base of El Centro, CA for the traditional winter training period. The Blues will kickoff the 2018 show season March 10th at the NAF El Centro Airshow.

Blue Angels Rock Oshkosh, Discuss Super Hornet Transition Plans

posted in: Airshows, Jet Teams, Popular Posts | 3

Blue Angels Fly at Oshkosh for the First Time

Oshkosh always has an award winning lineup and many highlights through the week. This year – the show was home to another first.

For the first time ever, the United States Navy Blue Angels flew a full demonstration in the skies over Oshkosh.

The team arrived Wednesday afternoon during the afternoon airshow, announcing their presence with a perfectly-timed (of course) flyby at the end of the national anthem. Only five jets arrived initially, with #3 arriving several hours later and #7 coming in separately after that.

On Thursday, the diamond pilots performed their circle and arrival maneuvers, where they pick out landmarks to use as they fly. They were supposed to do this during the daily airshow, but the aircraft had a small mishap while taxiing out in the interest of safety they canceled. They were able to reschedule for 8pm, after the airport is normally closed. Two jets took off and completed the necessary maneuvers just in time. Fans who stayed noted the rare chance to see the Blues jets with afterburner glow and lights on. The solo pilots performed their circle and arrival flight on Friday morning.

Noticeably absent from the show was the Blue Angels’ famous blue and gold C-130 Hercules, Fat Albert. In the wake of the crash of a USMC C-130T that killed 16 servicemembers, the USMC ordered a safety stand down of all C-130Ts, including Fat Albert. Bert was not only unable to perform, she never even made it to Oshkosh. Instead, the team relied on a Navy C-40 Clipper, the military version of the Boeing 737-700C, to bring in their maintenance crew and some equipment.

US Navy Blue Angels - EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2017US Navy Blue Angels - EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2017

The Blue Angels also participated in a popular Theater in the Woods event on Friday, July 28th. During this appearance, they spoke about being on the team and took questions from the audience. A couple of the questions were particularly interesting; when asked about female Blue Angel pilots in the future, Blue Angel #1 revealed that there have been no female F/A-18 applicants for the past two recruitment cycles. The team has never had a female fly as a Hornet demonstration pilot.

US Navy Blue Angels - EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2017US Navy Blue Angels - EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2017

The transition to the Super Hornet was also discussed. Currently, the team is in their 30th year of flying the Boeing F/A-18 Legacy Hornet. Despite internet rumors of a switch to the Super Hornet in September of this year or at the beginning of the 2018 season, the team plans to continue flying their Hornets for now. In fact, they are currently inducting three “new” Hornets into the squadron.

The target date for transitioning to the Super Hornet is not until 2019, and it was quickly pointed out that it could slip beyond that. There are several Super Hornets already set aside for the team, but they will need to be modified and tested before the pilots can begin training. One step in the right direction was mentioned; apparently a couple (now previous) Blue Angel pilots have already flown the current flight demonstration profile in the Super Hornet simulator and the results seemed positive. Hang in there Rhino fans!

Didn’t get a chance to see the Blue Angels at Oshkosh in person? No worries! We’ve got you covered with a video of their entire Friday performance!

Blue Angels Announce 2018 Officers, Including New Demo Pilots

posted in: Jet Teams | 5

US Navy Blue Angels

Two new F/A-18 Hornet demonstration pilots, a C-130 demonstration pilot, a maintenance officer, and a public affairs officer will be joining the elite Blue Angels team in 2018. These new officers will fill the shoes of the existing team members who are wrapping up their tour of duty when the 2017 airshow season ends. Also joining the Blue Angels is 2018 is a new commanding officer, Cmdr. Eric Doyle. He will take over for Cmdr. Ryan Bernacchi.

Here’s some information on all the new team members:

F/A-18 Hornet Demonstration Pilots:
Marine Maj. Jeffrey Mullins, 30, of Memphis, Tennessee, is an F/A-18 Hornet pilot currently assigned to Marine Aircraft Group (MAG) 31. He graduated from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in 2006.

Navy Lt. Andre Webb, 31, of Lawton, Oklahoma, is an F/A-18 Hornet pilot and 2008 US Naval Academy graduate currently assigned to the “Golden Eagles” of Training Squadron (VT) 22 based in Kingsville, TX.

Maj.-MullinsLt. Webb

C-130 Demonstration Pilot:
Marine Capt. Beau Mabery, 28, of Lompoc, California, is a C-130 Hercules pilot currently assigned to Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron (VMGR) 152. He graduated from the University of California, Los Angeles, in 2011.

Maintenance Officer:
Navy Lt. Garrett Hopkins, 38, of Charlotte, North Carolina, is a maintenance officer currently assigned to Strike Fighter Wing Pacific Detachment (SFWPD) Fallon. He graduated from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in 2009.

Public Affairs Officer:
Navy Lt. David Gardner, 36, of Warrensburg, Missouri, is a public affairs officer currently assigned to the USS Makin Island (LHD 8). He graduated from the University of Central Missouri in 2003.

Capt.-MaberyLt.-Hopkins

Lt.-Gardner

All of the officers were recommended by Rear Adm. James Bynum, chief of Naval Air Training and approved by Commander of Naval Air Forces, Vice Adm. Mike Shoemaker. Join us in welcoming them to the team and wishing them the best for a safe 2018 season!

US Air Force Thunderbirds Visit US Navy Blue Angels In Pensacola For Joint Training, Formation Photo Flight

posted in: Jet Teams, Popular Posts | 1

US Air Force Thunderbirds and US Navy Blue Angels Group Photo

Jet team fans in Florida got a rare treat last week when the US Air Force Thunderbirds popped in for a visit with the US Navy Blue Angels and their home base in Pensacola. The two teams rarely cross paths during the airshow season, but do try to arrange some time together each year to learn from one another and pass on knowledge.

US Air Force Thunderbirds and US Navy Blue AngelsUS Air Force Thunderbirds and US Navy Blue Angels

This year, the Thunderbirds took advantage of some convenient timing and stopped at NAS Pensacola between their shows at nearby Tyndall AFB and Lake Charles, LA. They received a warm welcome from their Navy counterparts, and during the three days together the team members swapped best practices and bonded through many different activities.

US Air Force Thunderbirds and US Navy Blue AngelsUS Air Force Thunderbirds and US Navy Blue Angels

On Tuesday, each team performed a full routine over the base and two pilots from each team were able to ride with their counterparts. The Blue Angels are famous for not wearing G-suits, and you can rest assured that Thunderbirds #1 and #5 did not wear any during their ride either. Blue Angels #1 and #4, however, did accept the offered G-suits for their ride in the F-16 Fighting Falcon, since it can pull more Gs than the Hornet.

US Air Force Thunderbirds and US Navy Blue AngelsUS Air Force Thunderbirds and US Navy Blue Angels

The maintenance and support crews got in on the fun as well, and the public affairs officers from each team ‘took over’ the other team’s Instagram account, and documented the visit with many video clips and photos. Among the coolest photos taken were several group shots of the combined teams. The joint training concluded with a double formation photo flight over the surrounding area, offering the Thunderbirds a chance the “buzz the beach”, the typical Blue Angel practice upon returning home from a show. The photo flight did have a hiccup when some turbulence caused two Blue Angel Hornets to make mid-air contact, but the highly trained pilots recovered quickly and ensured a safe outcome.

You can see more of the incredible photos and videos from this event in our forum thread: 2017 US Navy Blue Angels/USAF Thunderbirds Joint Training

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