The Blue Angels is the United States Navy‘s flight demonstration squadron, with aviators from the Navy and Marines. Blue Angels six demonstration pilots currently fly the McDonnell Douglas F/A-18 E/F Super Hornet, typically in more than 70 shows at 34 locations throughout the United States each year. The Blue Angels also visit more than 50,000 people in a standard show season (March through November) in schools and hospitals. Since 1946, the Blue Angels have flown for more than 260 million spectators.
The show’s narrator flies Blue Angel 7, a two-seat F/A-18F Super Hornet, to show sites. The Blues use this jet for backup, and to give demonstration rides to VIP civilians. Two backseats at each show are available; one of them goes to members of the press, the other to a local “Key Influencers”. The No. 4 slot pilot often flies the No. 7 aircraft in Friday’s “practice” shows.
The Blue Angels use a United States Marine Corps Lockheed C-130J Hercules, nicknamed “Fat Albert”, for their logistics, carrying spare parts, equipment, and to carry support personnel between shows. Beginning in 1975, “Bert” was used for Jet Assisted Take Off (JATO) and short aerial demonstrations just prior to the main event at selected venues, but the JATO demonstration ended in 2009 due to dwindling supplies of rockets.
The beloved C-130J may* open the flight demonstration with its own solo performance, demonstrating the astounding nimbleness of this legendary four-turboprop transport. Weighing 155,000 pounds when fully loaded, Fat Albert is flown by an all-Marine crew of three pilots and five enlisted crew members. It flies more than 100,000 miles each air show season.
*The C-130J is NOT guaranteed to do a demo flight at each show.