After World War II ended the Naval Operations Chief, Admiral Chester Nimitz decided that there was a need for a nudge to the public in order to keep them interested in all aspects of Naval aviation so he arranged for a “flight demonstration team”. Approximately one year later in June 1946, flying the F6F Hellcat the team performed for the first time at NAS (Naval Air Station) Jacksonville, Florida under the leadership of Lieutenant Commander Roy Voris. Within two months they began flying their renowned diamond formation in the new F8F Bearcat.
Towards the end of the 40′s they began flying their first jets, the Grumman F9-2 Panther and with the advent of the Korean War there was an increased demand within Naval aviation so the team was dispatched to their new home in 1950 which was the USS Princeton aircraft carrier where they were the center of the Satan’s Kitten fighter squadron VF-191.
A year later they began flying the faster and new Panther, the F9F-5 and relocated to the Naval Air Station in Corpus Christi, Texas. They stayed in Corpus Christi where they became permanent “snow birds” and moved to the Naval Air Station in Pensacola, Florida in 1955 where they soon began flying the Grumman F9-8 Cougar, a swept-wing aircraft. During the next 20 years they transitioned twice more to the F11-1 Tiger in 1957 and the Phantom II, a McDonnell Douglas F-4J aircraft in 1969.
At the end of 1974 the team was reorganized into the Navy Flight Demonstration Squadron which allowed them to establish a commanding officer, where the first of which was Commander Tony Less, a flight leader as well as other support officers. This helped to emphasize its mission as well as having support in their recruiting efforts.
It was in 1986 during their 40th year anniversary celebrations that they presented their current aircraft, the McDonnell Douglas FA-18 Hornet; it is the first fighter/attack aircraft that now serves in our nation’s first line of defense.
The Blue Angels have performed for over 260 million fans and spectators; pretty impressive isn’t it?
(Photo by Jason Hunken, 10/8/05.)