Published in the December 1982 Issue of Naval Aviation News
Author & Photographer: Unknown

Here, the Blue Angels strut their stuff on the ground before launching.

Air shows offer experiences that educate and entertain fortunate spectators. The flight demonstration teams who represent NATO countries delight crowds worldwide every year with their aerobatic maneuvers and exhibitions of aeronautical skill.

The Blue Angels took to the air for the first time o June 15, 1946. For the past 36 years, 162 million spectators around the world have witnessed their impressive brand of flying excellence. By presenting a faultless display of aerial artistry, in the blue and gold a-4 Skyhawks, the Blues seek to attract talented and qualified youths to join them in the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps. As the Navy's "ambassadors of good will," they take Naval Aviation to the public as a means of demonstrating the quality of men and equipment employed by the U.S. naval service. Much of their time is spent on the ground as well, meeting people, visiting schools, hospitals and getting involved in the communities they visit. Like other national precision flying teams, when traveling abroad, they represent their country and those who serve it.

Twenty-three officers and 77 enlisted members are in the U.S. Navy Flight Demonstration Squadron, Blue Angels. Seven of the officers are tactical jet pilots, four of whom fly in the diamond formation, two as solo maximum performance demonstrations, and one as the narrator for the aerial demonstrations. A Naval Flight Officer is responsible for logistics and coordination and public affairs. The maintenance officer is in charge of the enlisted maintenance crew and ensures that the 10 aircraft assigned are kept in top-notch condition. The administrative officer and supply officer perform their duties and maintain normal operations while the Blues are on the road. There are also three Marine Corps transport pilots and five enlisted crewmen assigned to fly the C-130 Hercules support aircraft, nicknamed "Fat Albert," that carries the equipment and personnel needed to perform demonstrations at air show sites.

Each year, during a two-month prelude to the air show season, the squadron goes through an intense all-hands training evolution at NAF El Centro, Calif., its winter home. The Blues' demonstration schedule keeps the squadron on the road from mid-March to mid-November, spending about 290 days away from its home base at NAS Pensacola, Fla.

By the end of the 1982 season, the Blue Angels had flown some 50 air show demonstrations in more than 35 cities around the U.S. This year over four million people came out to watch the Blues' precision flying. They met their largest audience at McGuire AFB, NJ, where over 500,000 spectators packed the flight line in one afternoon to catch a glimpse of the Navy's finest.

One of the Blues' formation loop maneuvers.