The Blue Angels’ Super Hornet Transition Is Still Years Away

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US Navy Blue Angels - F-18 Hornets

Fans of the US Navy Blue Angels expecting to see the team perform in Super Hornets will have to wait several more years at least. The Department of Defense announced today that Boeing has been awarded a contract for the documentation and kits to convert nine single-seat F/A-18Es and two dual-seat F/A-18Fs to Blue Angel configuration. The most notable part of the announcement is that this work is not expected to be completed before December of 2021, which would seemingly prevent the team from transitioning until 2022 or more likely 2023 at the earliest.

The team currently flies aging F/A-18B/C/D “Legacy” Hornets. The old and worn down jets create many maintenance issues for the squadron and it has become more and more common to see performances limited by the number of available aircraft, even though a spare travels with the team.

Several major incidents, including the crash of Blue Angel #6 Capt. Jeff Kuss in 2016, left the team with even fewer spares than usual. Even with the coming transition, the team has continued to receive additional Hornets as the Navy retires them from frontline units in favor of Super Hornets and F-35 Lightning IIs.

The Super Hornet transition has been public knowledge for a while now, a firm timeline has never been announced to the public; likely because even the Navy didn’t have firm plans. Certain details have emerged from interviews and previous contract announcements, but many fans have drawn false conclusions from these tidbits that the transition was/is imminent; one airshow vendor went as far as to create ‘Hornet Farewell Tour’ t-shirts during the 2017 season. Today’s announcement gives some clarity to the situation, and serves as a needed reality check on rumors and speculation.

Want to see the Blue Angels perform in person? Check out their 2018 airshow schedule and preliminary 2019 airshow schedule!

Here is the full text of the announcement:
The Boeing Co., St. Louis, Missouri, is being awarded $17,002,107 for firm-fixed-price delivery order N0001918F2654 against a previously issued basic ordering agreement (N00019-16-G-0001). This order is for the retrofit documentation and kits to convert nine F/A-18E and two F/A-18F aircraft into a Blue Angel configuration in accordance with engineering change proposal 6480. Work will be performed in St. Louis, Missouri, and is expected to be completed in December 2021. Fiscal 2018 aircraft procurement (Navy) funds in the amount of $17,002,107 will be obligated at time of award, none of which will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Maryland, is the contracting activity.

Blue Angels Announce New Officers and Demonstration Pilots for 2019

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US Navy Blue Angels

The US Navy Blue Angels have announced new team members for the 2019 season.

The squadron selected three F/A-18 demonstration pilots, an events coordinator, flight surgeon, and supply officer to replace outgoing team members.

Each officer was recommended for selection by Chief of Naval Air Training Rear Adm. Gregory Harris, and ultimately approved by Commander, Naval Air Forces Vice Adm. DeWolfe Miller, for final selection to the 2019 Blue Angels team.

“It was an impressive slate of applicants this year,” said Cmdr. Eric Doyle, commanding officer and flight leader of the Blue Angels. “Every officer that applied represented the high caliber of personnel serving in our Navy and Marine Corps. It was a hard decision, but one that will ultimately lead to an amazing 2019 show season.”

The Blue Angels select “finalists” to interview at the team’s home base of Naval Air Station (NAS) Pensacola, Florida, during the week of the Pensacola Beach Air Show each year. The team makes selections at the conclusion of that week.

Blue Angels Announce New Team Members for 2019

The newly selected 2019 officers include:

F/A-18 DEMONSTRATION PILOTS:

Navy Lt. James Cox, 35, of Chesapeake, Virginia, is an F/A-18 Hornet pilot currently assigned to Strike Fighter Weapons School Atlantic. He graduated from James Madison University in 2005.

Navy Lt. James Haley, 31, of Canadian, Texas, is an F/A-18 Hornet pilot currently assigned to the “Gladiators” of VFA-106. He graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 2009.

Navy Lt. Cary Rickoff, 31, of Atlanta, Georgia, is an F/A-18 Hornet pilot currently assigned to the “Golden Eagles” of VT-22. He graduated from Duke University in 2009.

OTHER SELECTED OFFICERS:

The Blue Angels will also have a new Events Coordinator in 2019. Navy Lt. Cmdr. Adam Kerrick, 35, of Huntingdon Valley, Pennsylvania, is a Naval flight officer currently assigned to the “Star Warriors” of Electronic Attack Squadron 209. He graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 2005.

The Blue Angels Flight Surgeon for 2019 will be Navy Lt. Aaron Hicks, 33, of Federal Way, Washington. Hicks is a flight surgeon currently assigned to Carrier Air Wing 17. He graduated from Western Washington University in 2007.

Navy Lt. j.g. Kristin Toland, 31, of Sedalia, Missouri, is a supply officer currently assigned to Fleet Air Reconnaissance Squadron 1. She graduated from Columbia College in 2012. She will serve as the team’s supply officer for the 2019 season.

The Blue Angels will wrap up their 2018 season at their home base, NAS Pensacola on November 3rd. The newly selected team members will begin training with the team after that show, including winter training at NAS El Centro in early 2019.

Fat Albert May Return to Airshows This Weekend at Pensacola Beach

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Fat Albert Returns to Shows at Pensacola Beach Airshow
Those attending the Pensacola Beach airshow this weekend may get to see a sight that has been missing from shows for quite awhile- Fat Albert!

Earlier this year, we reported on the potential of Bert returning to shows this summer. In an interview with NewsRadio 1620, Major Mark Montgomery said the team has been working really hard to get Bert ready to fly and they are very close.

Fat Albert and the rest of the Marine Corps C-130T Hercules fleet has been grounded since the 2017 crash of a C-130 in Mississippi that killed all 16 service members onboard. Before that, Bert missed airshows while undergoing an extensive overhaul. Ironically, she returned to shows at the Pensacola Beach airshow in 2017.

Major Montgomery says the team was not waiting for the opportunity to return in front of the home crowd- but it just kinda worked out this way with the timing.

Bert’s appearance won’t be a full airshow routine as she’s not been cleared for that, just yet. Since the air frame has not flown in almost a year, the team feels it is best to slowly ease into it, instead of throwing the aircraft through a high G performance without fully evaluating it. However, it certainly will be nice to see Bert back in the skies regardless!

If you’re heading to the show and snap some pictures, share them with us on our forums!

Canadian Snowbirds Visit Blue Angels, Perform In Pensacola

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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

2018 US Navy F/A-18 Super Hornet Demonstration Airshow Schedules Released

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US Navy F-18 Super Hornet Demonstration Team

The 2018 schedule for the US Navy F/A-18 Super Hornet Demo Teams has been released, but there’s not a whole lot to see. Due to training and other requirements, the demo teams are severely limited in their performances this year. As of the April release, only four shows have been approved with two listed as tentative.

In a statement, Navy TAC Demo said “both VFA-106 and VFA-122 are Fleet Replacement Squadrons (FRS), sometimes referred to by the old Navy term “RAG” or Replacement Air Group. The primary mission of each squadron is to provide the fleet with trained replacement aircrew to support fleet requirements. At this time, each squadron must focus on training newly winged aviators and flight officers on employing the Super Hornet to defend our country. This mission must take priority over flying these remarkable aircraft at air shows.”

While the limited number of shows certainly is disappointing, schedules often change during the year – so for the latest updates please be sure to check our forums! More shows could be added.

2018 Appearance Schedule – US Navy F/A-18 Super Hornet Demonstration Teams

April 14-15: Sun-N-Fun, Lakeland Regional Airport – Lakeland, FL
April 21-22: Thunder Over Louisville – Louisville, KY

May 5-6: Ford Lauderdale Air Show – Fort Lauderdale, FL
May 26-27: Miami Beach Air and Sea Show – Miami Beach, FL

The following shows are approved for TACDEMO participation; however, actual participation will be determined in May.

June 9-10: Thunder of Niagara, Niagara Falls ARS – Niagara Falls, NY
June 30-July 1: Battle Creek Field of Flight Air Show – Battle Creek, MI

Will you see them in 2018? Let us know! Post in the AirshowStuff Forums or on the AirshowStuff Facebook page and make sure you share pictures after the show!

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

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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

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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

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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.

US Navy Forum Teases Return Of Legacy Flights In 2018 – And More!

posted in: Military, Popular Posts | 1

US Navy F/A-18F Super Hornet

The jet team/military demo schedules are the highlight of each annual International Council of Airshows (ICAS) convention, but the military forums and presentations also have some interesting bits of info for fans. This year the Navy forum in particular yielded some very interesting and exciting news items.

First, the F/A-18C Hornet (AKA Baby Hornet or Legacy Hornet) demos appear to be a thing of the past. All F-18 demonstrations in 2018 will be either F/A-18E or F/A-18F Super Hornets. As in the past, they will be flown by a West Coast team out of NAS Lemoore, CA and an East Coast team out of NAS Oceana, VA. The F/A-18E demos will only be flown by Lemoore crews.

Second, and maybe the biggest news of the forum; Legacy Flights might be back! The presentation includes the requirements for a show to host a Legacy Flight, and says the performance will consist of a short profile similar to that flown in the past. Legacy Flights have not been regularly performed for years now, although a Super Hornet and Corsair formation flight was arranged at the Cleveland airshow this past September. No word yet on what warbirds might be among the approved performers.

The third major takeaway from the forum is that there appears to be no limit on Navy static displays in 2018! Each year since sequestration (2013) has seen the military branches place limits on how many of their aircraft could be approved for static display at each airshow. This has gradually been lifted each year and thankfully it appears to be a nonissue in 2018; static display ramps may be a little fuller this summer!

The schedule for the F-18 demonstrations is not expected to be released for a while, but the the teams are approved for 46 airshows total. As noted, we are currently seeking some more information on these topics and will post any updates that we receive!

US Navy Blue Angels 2019 Preliminary Airshow Schedule Released

posted in: Jet Teams, Schedules | 38

US Navy Blue Angels

Here is the preliminary 2019 airshow schedule for the US Navy Blue Angels! This schedule has been released on a preliminary basis only, and will likely see notable changes. Please make sure to check back with us in December of 2018 when an updated 2019 schedule is released!

Preliminary 2019 Appearance Schedule – US Navy Blue Angels

March 16-17: NAF El Centro Air Show – NAF El Centro, CA
March 23-24: California International Air Show – Salinas, CA
March 30-31: NAS Key West Southernmost Air Show – NAS Key West, FL

April 6-7: Sun-n-Fun Fly-In Expo – Lakeland, FL
April 13-14: Wings Over South Texas – NAS Corpus Christi, TX
April 20-21: OFF WEEK
April 27-28: MCAS Beaufort Air Show – MCAS Beaufort, SC

May 4-5: Fort Lauderdale Air Show – Fort Lauderdale, FL
May 11-12: OPEN
May 18-19: Cape Girardeau Regional Air Festival – Cape Girardeau, MO
May 22: U.S. Naval Academy Air Show – Annapolis, MD
May 24: U.S. Naval Academy Graduation Flyover – Annapolis, MD
May 25-26: Northeastern Pennsylvania Airshow – Scranton, PA

June 1-2: Star Spangled Salute Air Show – Tinker AFB, OK
June 8-9: Great Tennessee Air Show – Smyrna, TN
June 15-16: Ocean City Airshow – Ocean City, MD
June 22-23: OFF WEEK
June 29-30: Quad City Air Show – Davenport, IA

July 6-7: KC Downtown Air Show – Kansas City, MO
July 13: Pensacola Beach Airshow – Pensacola Beach, FL
July 20-21: Duluth Air Show and Aviation Expo – Duluth, MN
July 27-28: Grand Junction Air Show – Grand Junction, CO

August 3-4: Seafair Boeing Air Show – Seattle, WA
August 17-18: 61st Chicago Air And Water Show – Chicago, IL
August 24-25: New York Air Show – Stewart ANG Base, Newburgh, NY
August 31-September 1: OPEN

September 7-8: Spirit of St. Louis Air Show – Chesterfield, MO
September 14-15: OFF WEEK
September 21-22: NAS Lemoore Central Valley Air Show – NAS Lemoore, CA
September 28-29: MCAS Miramar Air Show – MCAS Miramar, CA

October 5-6: California Capital Air Show – Sacramento, CA
October 12-13: San Francisco Fleet Week – San Francisco, CA
October 19-20: Fort Worth Alliance Air Show – Fort Worth, TX
October 26-27: Thunder over South Georgia – Moody AFB, GA

November 2-3: Jacksonville Sea and Sky Spectacular – Jacksonville, FL
November 8-9: Blue Angels Homecoming Airshow – NAS Pensacola, FL

Again, this schedule is for 2019. If you’re looking for 2018 airshow appearances, check out US Navy Blue Angels 2018 Airshow Schedule Released

Updated Dec 6, 2017

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