U.S. Navy Blue Angels to Conduct Final Flight of F/A-18 Legacy Hornets on Nov. 4

The U.S. Navy Blue Angels Flight Demonstration Squadron will conduct a final flight with six F/A-18 A/B/C/D “Legacy” Hornets on Nov. 04, the squadron announced.

The final flight, lasting approximately 30 minutes, will be conducted from 4 p.m. CST and will take-off and land at squadron’s homebase of Naval Air Station (NAS) Pensacola .

Flyover locations include, but are not limited to: Orange Beach, Gulf Shores, Fort Morgan, Ferry Pass, Navarre Beach, Pensacola Beach, Perdido Key, Community Maritime Park and Palafox Street in downtown Pensacola. The flyover will be visible from many locations throughout the Pensacola area and along this route.

The final flight of the Legacy Hornets signifies the official transition of the Blue Angels to the newer F/A-18 E/F Super Hornet platform after using the F/A-18 Hornet for 34 years until the 2020 show season.

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.

“We are incredibly honored to have the opportunity to salute those teams who have flown, maintained and supported this platform for over three decades of service,” said Cmdr. Brian Kesselring, U.S. Navy Blue Angels commanding officer and flight leader. “We deeply appreciate the expertise and operational knowledge Blue Angels past and present have brought to the team and we look forward to enhancing our operations as we fully transition to flying the Super Hornet.”

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.

“Undoubtedly, 2020 presented the team with unprecedented challenges. That said, the unique nature of this year also allowed our team to deepen our interaction with past teams, in particular, those teams that transitioned to new aircraft during their tenure,” said Kesselring. “This engagement has helped us lay the foundation for a safe and effective transition for our team’s pilots, support, and maintenance personnel as well as postured us to take on the high operating tempo of the team’s highly anticipated 2021 air show season and 75th anniversary.”

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.

Blue Angels

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.

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