[Did You Know?] The History of the Blue Angels

[Did You Know?] The History of the Blue Angels If you haven’t been living under a rock the last 73 years, you have heard of The Blue Angels but do you know the history behind this impressive flying team? The Blue Angels is the United States Navy’s flight demonstration squadron which was initially formed in 1946, making it the second oldest formal flying aerobatic team (under the same name) in the world! The Blue Angels are currently flown by five Navy demonstration pilots and one Marine Corps demonstration pilot. At the end of World War II, Chief of Naval Operations, Adm. Chester W. Nimitz ordered the formation of a flight demonstration team to keep the public interested in naval aviation. In a very short three months, the Navy Flight Exhibition Team performed its first flight demonstration at the home base, Naval Air Station (NAS) Jacksonville, Florida.


A big loss came to the Blue Angels when on Sept. 29, 1946, Slot Pilot Lt. j.g. Ross "Robby" Robinson failed to recover from a dive while performing a Cuban Eight maneuver at NAS Jacksonville, and was killed. Robinson died only four shows before the end of the season and became the first of 26 Blue Angel pilot fatalities in the team's 73-year history. In 1947, Flight Leader Lt. Cmdr. Robert "Bob" Clarke introduced the now-famous Blue Angels Diamond Formation. With the new formation, the team introduced two new maneuvers: the Diamond Loop and the Diamond Barrel Roll; two maneuvers still performed today! The following year, in the fall of 1948, the team moved to NAS Corpus Christi, Texas and in the winter of 1954, they moved to their present home here on the Gulf Coast, Pensacola, Florida.


In 2015, Blue Angels’ first female pilot, Katie Higgins, made her first flight with the team!


In 1972, the team was awarded the Navy's Meritorious Unit Commendation for the two-year period from Mar. 1, 1970 - Dec. 31, 1971. Another European tour followed in 1973, and included air shows in Tehran, Iran, England, France, Spain, Turkey, Greece, and Italy. Tragedy hit the Blue Angels in the 1973 season when the Flight Leader, Left Wing Pilot, and a crew chief all lost their lives during an arrival maneuver. The rest of the air show season was then cancelled. The team was re-built the following year by returning Capt. Ken Wallace, a former, 1954-1955 Slot pilot. In August and September 1992, the team performed 16 shows in eight countries throughout Asia and Europe. During this tour, the Blue Angels became the first U.S. military flight demonstration team to perform in Russia, Romania, and Bulgaria. The team celebrated its 50th Anniversary in 1996! 2019 is the team's 73rd anniversary and marks the Blue Angels' 33rd year flying the Boeing F/A 18 Hornet.

 Since 1946, the Blue Angels have performed for nearly 500 million fans. Have you attended an airshow on Pensacola Beach? If not, be sure to check out this year’s schedule and tag us in your photos on social media! We love The Blue Angels!









Posted by Kathy Justice on


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