posted by Jiri Wagner
The mission of the Blue Angels is to enhance the Navy recruiting effort, and to represent the naval service to the civilian community, its elected leadership and to foreign nations. Overall, the Blue Angels serve as positive role models and goodwill ambassadors for the Navy. A Blue Angel flight demonstration exhibits the choreographed refinements of Navy-trained flying skills. It presents the graceful, aerobatic maneuvers of the four-plane "diamond" and fast-paced high performance maneuvers of the solo pilots in the number five and six jets. All six jets then perform together in the renown delta formation.
At the end of World War II, Adm. Chester W. Nimitz, then the Chief of Naval Operations, ordered the formation of a flight demonstration team to keep the public interested in naval aviation. The Blue Angels performed their first flight demonstration less than a year later in June 1946 at their home base, Naval Air Station (NAS) Jacksonville, Florida. Flying the Grumman F6F Hellcat, they were led by Lt. Cmdr. Roy "Butch" Voris. Only two months later on August 25, 1946, the Blue Angels transitioned to the Grumman F8F Bearcat and introduced the famous "diamond" formation.
By the end of the 1940s, the Blue Angels were flying their first jet aircraft, the Grumman F9F-2 Panther. In response to the demands placed on naval aviation in the Korean Conflict, the team reported to the aircraft carrier USS Princeton as the nucleus of Fighter Squadron 191(VF- 191), Satan's Kittens, in 1950. They were reorganized the next year and reported to NAS Corpus Christi, Texas, where they began flying the newer and faster version of the Panther, the F9F-5. The Blue Angels remained in Corpus Christi until the winter of 1954 when they relocated to their present home base at NAS Pensacola, Florida. It was here that they progressed to the swept-wing Grumman F9F-8 Cougar.
The ensuing 20 years saw the Blue Angels transition to two more aircraft, the Grumman F11F-1 Tiger (1957) and the McDonnell Douglas F-4J Phantom II (1969). In December 1974, the Navy Flight Demonstration Team began flying the McDonnell Douglas A-4F SkyhawkII and was reorganized into the Navy Flight Demonstration Squadron. This reorganization permitted the establishment of a commanding officer vice a flight leader (Cmdr. Tony Less was the squadron's first official commanding officer), added support officers and further redefined the squadron's mission emphasizing the support of recruiting efforts. On November 8, 1986, the Blue Angels completed their 40th anniversary year during ceremonies unveiling their present aircraft, the new sleek Boeing F/A-18 Hornet, the first dual-role fighter/attack aircraft now serving on the nation's front lines of defense.
In 1992 more than one million people viewed Blue Angels performances during a 30-day European deployment to Sweden, Finland, Russia, Romania, Bulgaria, Italy, the United Kingdom and Spain. This was the first European deployment in 19 years. The 1998 team performed a delta-flyover of Super Bowl Thirty after the national anthem in San Diego, California. In November 1998, Cmdr. Patrick Driscoll landed the first Blue Angel jet on an aircraft carrier, USS Harry S. Truman (CVN-75). The air shows throughout the 1998 show season brought out more than 15 million spectators. Since 1946, the Blue Angels have flown for more than 322 million spectators. The Blue Angels are based in Pensacola, Florida, and was flying 68 air shows at 36 locations in the United States and Canada during the 1999 season.
The squadron spends the winter (January through March) at Naval Air Facility (NAF), El Centro, California, training pilots and new crew members.