The History of The Blue Angels Homecoming Airshow

Date Posted: Sep 30, 2016

Every year, about 15 million spectators nationwide witness the power, speed and beauty of the U.S. Navy’s Blue Angels. But there’s nothing like seeing these elite pilots perform in their home skies over NAS Pensacola. On Nov. 11 and 12, the flight demonstration squadron returns for the annual Blue Angels Homecoming Airshow, marking not only Veterans Day but also the 70th anniversary of the United States Navy’s world famous aviators.

The Blue Angels first began performing their aerial feats at the end of World War II in 1946 when Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Chester W. Nimitz ordered the formation of a team to showcase the skills of Navy pilots. Back then, they flew Grumman F6F Hellcats. Today, they fly their distinctive blue and gold F/A 18 Hornets, wowing their audiences with maneuvers that seem to defy the laws of physics.

Flying between 120 and 700 mph (that’s approaching Mach 1!), the Blue Angels pull off unfathomable tricks, including aerial stunts that can position the planes’ wings within 18 inches of each other. In addition to the sleek Hornets, the team also includes the crowd favorite C-130T Hercules transport plane, nicknamed Fat Albert. Despite its heft, the rocket-propelled Fat Albert can reach 1,500 feet in seconds, hitting a 45-degree angle instantly after takeoff.

Top Navy and Marine pilots are picked to fly with the Blue Angels and usually serve two to three years. The pilots perform all over the country, returning home for performances in Pensacola twice a year, in mid-July, and again in November for their end-of-season Homecoming Show. Pensacola spectators can also catch the squadron practicing over the base on most Tuesday and Wednesday mornings from March to November.

This year’s Homecoming Airshow, during the 3rd Annual Foo Foo Festival, includes daytime performances on Friday, Nov.11 and Saturday, Nov. 12, as well as a not-to-be-missed nighttime performance complete with fireworks on the evening of Nov. 11.



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