Blue Angels History
The Blue Angels history starts in 1946 at the end of World War II. The Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Chester Nimitz,* had the vision to create a flight exhibition team to raise the public’s interest in naval aviation and boost Navy morale.
Naming the Flight Demonstration Squadron
Later that year, Original Flight Lead Capt. Butch Voris and Right-Wing Pilot Lt. Maurice “Wick” Wickendoll came across the Blue Angel nightclub in a New Yorker Magazine column called Goings On About Town and decided it was the perfect name for their team, and thus the Blue Angels were born. Navy, Blue, and Flying!
The mission of the Blue Angels is to showcase the teamwork and professionalism of the United States Navy and Marine Corps through flight demonstrations and community outreach while inspiring a culture of excellence and service to the country.
Since 1946, the Blue Angels have performed for nearly 500 million fans and continues to amaze airshow spectators worldwide.
Blue Angels History Timeline
Blue Angels Early Beginnings
The Blue Angels thrilled audiences with their precision combat maneuvers in the F6 Hellcat, the F8 Bearcat and the F9 Panther.
Blue Angels Refine Their Demonstration
The team refined their demonstration with aerobatic maneuvers in the F9 Cougar and F-11 Tiger and introduced the first six-plane delta formation, still flown to this day.
Blue Angels fly the F-4J Phantom II
At the end of 1969, they were flying the F-4J Phantom II, the only two seat aircraft flown by the delta formation. The Phantom II also allowed the Blue Angels to perform the Dirty Loop maneuver, in which the aircraft’s landing gear and flaps are left down, while they climbed directly into a loop.
Blue Angels Transition to the A-4 Skyhawk
The team transitioned to the A-4 Skyhawk, a smaller and lighter aircraft with a tighter turning radius allowing for a more dynamic flight demonstration. Lockheed Martin C-130, affectionately known as “Fat Albert” became their support aircraft.
Blue Angels Unveil the Boing F/A-18 Hornet
The Blue Angels celebrated their 40th Anniversary in 1986 by unveiling the Boeing F/A-18 Hornet, the first dual-role fighter/attack aircraft that’s still serving on America’s front lines of defense.
Blue Angels 3,000th Air Show
The Blue Angels continued to hit milestones when they flew their 3,000th air show in 1990 and celebrated its 50th anniversary in 1996.
2000’s – Today
Blue Angels fly F/A-18 Super Hornet
The team transitioned to their current aircraft the Boeing F/A-18 Super Hornet and celebrated their 75th anniversary in 2021. Support aircraft “Fat Albert” transitioned to its current platform, the C-130J Super Hercules.
Source: U.S. Navy Blue Angels website.
*Admiral Nimitz is the namesake of Nimitz Highway, which runs past the Honolulu International Airport and under the H1 viaduct.
To see a history of the Marine Corps Base Hawaii, click here.