Boeing has delivered the first Super Hornet test aircraft for the U.S. Navy’s Blue Angel flight demonstration squadron. The unpainted aircraft now enters the flight test and evaluation phase at Naval Air Station Patuxent River in Maryland. Boeing expects to deliver a total of 11 aircraft for the squadron in 2020. The flight demonstration squadron has flown Boeing or Boeing-heritage aircraft for more than 50 years, starting with the F-4J Phantom II in 1969, and then moving to the A-4F Skyhawk.
Boeing converts F/A-18 Hornets and Super Hornets into Blue Angels at the company’s Cecil Field facility in Jacksonville, Florida. Major modifications include the addition of an oil tank for the smoke-generation system, fuel systems that enable the aircraft to fly inverted for extended periods of time, civilian-compatible navigation equipment, cameras and adjustments for the aircraft’s center of gravity. The team currently operates the F/A-18A-D Hornet.
“The Boeing Super Hornet is an iconic representation of excellence in naval aviation,” said ret. Admiral Pat Walsh, vice president of U.S. Navy & Marine Corps Services for Boeing. Walsh flew with the Blue Angels from 1985 to 1987 as the Left Wingman (#3) and Slot Pilot (#4). “As Boeing continues to support the operational fleet of Navy Super Hornets, we are excited to see this platform enter a critical phase of its journey to joining the team.”
The Blue Angels flight demonstration squadron was formed in 1946 by the United States Navy. The unit is the second oldest formal aerobatic team (under the same name) in the world, after the French Patrouille de France formed in 1931. The Blue Angels’ McDonnell Douglas F/A-18 Hornets (numbered 1–6) are currently flown by five Navy demonstration pilots and one Marine Corps demonstration pilot. 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.