30 Things You Didn’t Know About Blue Angels Chicago
Are you familiar with America’s Blue Angels? Surely, there are some things which you need to know about the US Navy’s flight. The Blue Angels flight demonstration squadron was formed in 1946 by the United States Navy. The unit is the second oldest formal aerobic team (under the same name) in the world after the French Patrouille de France formed in 1931. The Blue Angels typically perform aerial displays annually in at least 60 shows at 30 locations throughout the United States and two shows at one location in Canada. Since 1946, the Blue Angels have flown for more than 505 million spectators, and have visited more than 50,000 people in schools, hospitals, and community functions at air show cities. We’re going to be detailing you more about Blue Angels Chicago in this article.
One thing that is interesting about Blue Angels Chicago is its mission; which is “to showcase the pride and professionalism of the United States Navy and Marine Corps by inspiring a culture of excellence and service to country through flight demonstrations and community outreach. The Navy Flight Exhibition Team was reorganized and commissioned the “United States Navy Flight Demonstration Squadron” on 10 December 1973. To boost Navy morale, demonstrate naval airpower, and maintain public interest in naval aviation, an underlying mission was to help the Navy generate public and political support for a larger allocation of the shrinking defence budget.
Due to COVID-19, the 2020 show season has been terminated abruptly. Currently, their first show will be in Eau Claire, WI, June 13-14. The “Blues” perform at both military and non-military airfields, and often over major U.S. cities and capitals. Canada is also included in the Blue Angels schedule for air shows, such as the Greenwood, Nova Scotia, Canada Air Show Atlantic. In response to the pandemic, the Blue Angels flew over multiple US cities as a tribute to healthcare and frontline workers. The “Blues” will be transferring to Boeing F/A-18E Super Hornets starting in the 2021 show season. Now read further below to have knowledge about Blue Angels Chicago and also its operations.
Key Facts you Need to Know about Blue Angels Chicago
Below consists of the highlight about Blue Angels Chicago history dating back from its formation in 1946:
- The first Navy “Blue Angels” Flight Demonstration Squadron (1946–1947), assembled in front of one of their Grumman F6F Hellcats (l to r): Lt. Al Taddeo, Solo; Lt. (J.G.) Gale Stouse, Spare; Lt. Cdr. R.M. “Butch” Voris, Flight Leader; Lt. Maurice “Wick” Wickendoll, Right Wing; Lt. Mel Cassidy, Left Wing
- It was established as a Navy flight exhibition team on 24 April 1946 by order of Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Chester Nimitz to generate greater public support of naval aviation.
- In May 1947, flight leader Lt. Cmdr. Bob Clarke replaced Butch Voris as the leader of the team. The team with an additional fifth pilot relocated to Naval Air Station (NAS) Corpus Christi, Texas. On 7 June at Birmingham, Alabama, four F8F-1 Bearcats (numbered 1–4) flew in diamond formation for the first time which is now considered the Blue Angels’ trademark.
- In January 1948, Lt. Cmdr. Raleigh ” Dusty” Rhodes took command of the Blue Angels team which was flying four Bearcats and a yellow-painted SNJ with USN markings dubbed “Beetle Bomb”; the SNJ represented a Japanese Zero for the air show dogfights with the Bearcats. The name “Blue Angels” also was painted on the Bearcats.
- In 1949, the team acquired a Douglas R4D Skytrain for logistics to and from show sites. The team’s SNJ was also replaced by another Bearcat, painted yellow for the air combat routine, inheriting the “Beetle Bomb” nickname. On 13 July, the team acquired and began flying the straight-wing Grumman F9F-2B Panther between demonstration shows.
- Team headquarters shifted from NAS Corpus Christi, Texas, to NAAS Whiting Field, Florida, on 10 September 1949, announced 14 July 1949.
- On 25 June 1950, the Korean War started, and all Blue Angels pilots volunteered for combat duty. The squadron (due to a shortage of pilots, and no available planes) and its members were ordered to “combat-ready status” after an exhibition at Naval Air Station, Dallas, Texas on 30 July.
- The Blue Angels were disbanded, and its pilots were reassigned to a carrier. Once aboard the aircraft carrier on 9 November, the group formed the core of Fighter Squadron 191 (VF-19), “Satan’s Kittens”, under the command of World War II fighter ace and 1950 Blue Angels Commander/Flight Leader, Lt. Commander John Magda; he was killed in action on 8 March 1951.
- In August 1951, “Blues” leader LCDR Ray Hawkins became the first naval aviator to survive an ejection at supersonic speeds when a new F9F-6 he was piloting became uncontrollable on a cross-country flight. After summer, the team began demonstrating with F9F-6 Panthers.
- In May 1954, the Blue Angels performed at Bolling Air Force Base in Washington, D.C. with the Air Force Thunderbirds (activated 25 May 1953).
- In September 1956, the team gave its first performance outside the United States at the International Air Exposition in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. It also upgraded its logistics aircraft to the Douglas R5D Skymaster.
- In 1970, the Blues received their first U.S. Marine Corps Lockheed KC-130F Hercules, manned by an all-Marine crew. That year, they went on their first South American tour.
- In 1972, the Blue Angels were awarded the Navy’s Meritorious Unit Commendation for the two-year period from 1 March 1970 to 31 December 1971. Another European tour followed in 1973, including air shows in Tehran, Iran, England, France, Spain, Turkey, Greece, and Italy.
- In 1974, the Blue Angels transitioned to the new Douglas A-4F Skyhawk II. Navy Commander Anthony Less became the squadron’s first “commanding officer” and “flight leader”.
- Penny Edwards was the first-ever enlisted woman to join the team in the 1978 season as an Aviation Electrician. It took some time, though, for women to enter the pilot’s seat.
- In 1986, LCDR Donnie Cochran joined the Blue Angels as the first African-American Naval Aviator to be selected. He served for two more years with the squadron flying the left wing-man position in the No. 3 A-4F fighter, and returned to command the Blue Angels in 1995 and 1996.
- In 1992, the Blue Angels deployed for a month-long European tour, their first in 19 years, conducting shows in Sweden, Finland, Russia (first foreign flight demonstration team to perform there), Romania, Bulgaria, Italy, the United Kingdom, and Spain.
- In 2006, the Blue Angels marked their 60th year of performing.
- On 21 April 2007, pilot Kevin “Kojak” Davis was killed and eight people on the ground were injured when Davis lost control of the No. 6 jet and crashed due to G-force-induced Loss Of Consciousness (G-LOC) during an air show at the Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort in Beaufort, South Carolina.
- On 30 October 2008, a spokesman for the team announced that the team would complete its last three performances of the year with five jets instead of six.
- On 22 May 2011, the Blue Angels were performing at the Lynchburg Regional Airshow in Lynchburg, Virginia, when the Diamond formation flew the Barrel Roll Break manoeuvre at an altitude lower than the required minimum. The manoeuvre was aborted, the remainder of the demonstration cancelled and all aircraft landed safely.
- On 26 May, the Blue Angels announced they would not be flying their traditional fly-over of the Naval Academy Graduation Ceremony and that they were cancelling their 28–29 May 2011 performances at the Millville Wings and Wheels Airshow in Millville, New Jersey.
- On 27 May 2011, the Blue Angels announced that Commander Dave Koss, the squadron’s Commanding Officer, would be stepping down. He was replaced by Captain Greg McWherter, the team’s previous Commanding Officer.
- On 29 July 2011, a new Blue Angels Mustang GT was auctioned off for $400,000 at the Experimental Aircraft Association AirVenture Oshkosh (Oshkosh Air Show) annual summer gathering of aviation enthusiasts from 25 to 31 July in Oshkosh, Wisconsin which had an attendance of 541,000 persons and 2,522 show planes.
- Between 2 and 4 September 2011 on Labor Day weekend, the Blue Angels flew for the first time with a fifty-fifty blend of conventional JP-5 jet fuel and a camelina-based biofuel Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland.
- On 1 March 2013, the U.S. Navy announced that it was cancelling remaining 2013 performances after 1 April 2013 due to budget constraints. Then in October 2013, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, stating that “community and public outreach is a crucial Departmental activity”, announced that the Blue Angels (along with the U.S. Air Force’s Thunderbirds) would resume appearing at air shows starting in 2014, although the number of flyovers will continue to be severely reduced.
- On 15 March 2014, the demonstration pilots numbered 1–7 wore gold flight suits to celebrate the team’s “return to the skies” during their first air show of the season; there were only three air shows in 2013.
- In July 2014, Marine Corps Capt. Katie Higgins, 27, became the first female pilot to join the Blue Angels.
- In July 2015, Cmdr Bob Flynn became the Blue Angels’ first Executive Officer.
- In July 2016, Boeing was awarded a $12 million contract to begin an engineering proposal for converting the Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet for Blue Angels use, with the proposal to be completed by September 2017.
The first plane to fly with the Blue Angels was the Hellcat. It was powered by a 2,000hp Pratt and Whitney engine which ensured it could reach a 380 mph maximum speed and a nearly 3,000 feet per minute climb rate.