Update: The photos originally used in this post were removed at the request of Navy Public Affairs as they were leaked without review or approval. However, someone else posted a different photo to Instagram – embedded below – which appears be taken from public property. Stay tuned for official images of the jet as they are released.
Original Post: The first photos of an F-18 Super Hornet in Blue Angel colors have leaked online!
The photo set was posted publicly to Facebook this morning. It shows a single F-18E Super Hornet wearing the glossy blue and gold of the famous Flight Demonstration Squadron. The jet is one of several undergoing conversion to airshow configuration. In fact, according to the Bureau Number (BuNo), this specific airframe was one of two E models painted up as Maverick’s (Tom Cruise’s) aircraft for the filming of Top Gun 2!
The Blue Angels are scheduled to transition to flying Super Hornets following their final airshow in October of this year. They will take a longer than usual winter training period in El Centro to adjust to the new jets – and an updated routine – before performing for the first time in April of 2021 in Jacksonville, Florida.
The team is also expected to receive their new “Fat Albert” C-130 Hercules some time this year after their previous aircraft was retired from service. The team themselves leaked images of her new paint scheme earlier this year.
Sadly, the final show season for the F-18 “Legacy” Hornets has been drastically cut short by the COVID-19/coronavirus pandemic. We still expect the team to transition as scheduled, but if the pandemic slows work on the aircraft conversions that could change things.
Meanwhile, the Blue Angels just finished two rare joint flyovers with the US Air Force Thunderbirds and are embarking on more flyovers around the country, starting with Texas and Louisiana tomorrow. The Thunderbirds are expected to announce their own flyover schedule soon.