The U.S. Navy Blue Angels Flight Demonstration Squadron conducted the final flight with F/A-18 A/B/C/D “Legacy” Hornet aircraft on Nov. 4 marking the official transition to the F/A-18 E/F Super Hornet platform.
The final flight, lasting approximately 30 minutes, was conducted from 4 p.m. CST with take-off and landing at squadron’s homebase of Naval Air Station (NAS) Pensacola.
Today we conducted our final flight on the F/A-18 A/B/C/D "Legacy" Hornets marking the official transition of the Blue Angels to the F/A-18 E/F Super Hornet platform. #BlueAngels #USNavy #USMC pic.twitter.com/sSzfxRH4m1
— Blue Angels (@BlueAngels) November 5, 2020
The F/A-18E single-seat and F/A-18F tandem-seat variants are larger and more advanced derivatives of the F/A-18A/B/C/D Hornets. The F/A-18A and F/A-18C are single-seat variants while the F/A-18B and F/A-18D are two-seat variants.
The 2020 show season marked the end of the service life of the Legacy Hornets the team has flown for 34 years. The 2021 show season will be the Blue Angels’ first year flying the Super Hornet platform as well as the 75th anniversary of the team.
The Blue Angels are scheduled to begin their winter training syllabus over NAS Pensacola beginning Nov. 16. The team will return to its winter training facilities in El Centro, CA in January. Training will continue through April in preparation for the 2021 show season.
From “Legacy” Hornets to Super Hornets
In 2018, Boeing was awarded the delivery order in support of the conversion of eleven F/A-18E/F Super Hornet aircraft for the Blue Angels team. The delivery order was for the retrofit documentation and kits to convert nine F/A-18E (single-seater) and two F/A-18F (twin-seater) aircraft into a Blue Angels configuration in accordance with engineering change proposal 6480.
Boeing converts F/A-18 Hornets and Super Hornets into Blue Angels at the company’s Cecil Field facility. 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 first Super Hornet aircraft arrived at NAS Pensacola in Pensacola, Florida on July 27 this year.
The Blue Angels is the U.S. Navy’s flight demonstration squadron, with aviators from the Navy and Marines. The team was formed in 1946, making it the second oldest formal flying aerobatic team (under the same name) in the world, after the French Patrouille de France formed in 1931.
The Blue Angels have flown a variety of aircraft since their establishment, and started flying F/A-18 variants in 1986. Since 2010, the squadron has been flying the F/A-18 Hornet C/D and are now starting an upgrade to the F/A-18 E/F Super Hornet.
The Blue Angels team has also procured an Ex-Royal Air Force (RAF) C-130J Super Hercules tactical airlifter as a replacement of its now retired Lockheed C-130T Hercules aircraft, nicknamed “Fat Albert”. The U.S. Marine Corps (USMC)-operate aircraft is used by the team for logistics, carrying spare parts, equipment, and to carry support personnel between shows.
The C-130J ‘Fat Albert’ arrived at NAS Pensacola on August 17 this year.