Home News How the Blue Angels have changed through the years

How the Blue Angels have changed through the years

Photo: DVIDS

The U.S.  Blue Angels will perform their spectacular aerobatic stunts over Southern California as part of the Huntington Beach Air Show, Friday, Sept. 29 to Sunday, Oct. 1.


The pilot considered as the “father” of the Blue Angels is Butch Voris. Voris was born in Los Angeles, went to high school and community college in Northern California and graduated flight school in Oakland. He became a highly decorated pilot in World War II and after the war was a flight instructor for the Naval Advanced Training Command in Daytona Beach, Fla.

The first official show of the  Flight Exhibition Team was in June 1946. Later that summer the pilots were in New York where they became familiar with the “Blue Angel” nightclub. Voris liked the name and made it the team’s moniker.

Voris was the first commander of the Blue Angels in 1946-47. The group was disbanded due to a pilot shortage during the Korean War, but Voris was asked assemble a new Blue Angels flight team in 1951. Voris was involved in a mid-air collision in 1952 and managed to land his fighter jet. After his second run with the Blue Angels, Voris commanded an attack carrier air group in the Pacific.

Voris retired in 1963 and lived in Monterey until his death in 2005. Some of the stunts Voris developed for the Blue Angels routine are still in use today.

The Blue Angels website is here.


The Blue Angels have flown the F/A-18 Hornet since 1986. It is the first aircraft to have carbon fiber wings and the first tactical jet fighter to use digital fly-by-wire flight controls. They can be one or two seaters.

Minimum requirements for pilots:

* Jet pilots must be carrier-qualified with at least 1,250 tactical jet flight hours.

* The commander of the squadron must have at least 3,000 jet flight hours.

* Pilots stay with the Blue Angels for two years, then return to their former units.


The squadron has 10 jets and 1 C-130 Hercules (currently grounded). The U.S.  aerobatic team includes 126 personnel. Sixteen are  and the rest are sergeants. The squadron is based in El Centro during the winter.

The Blue Angels are in the process of upgrading their jets from the F/A-18 Hornets they used since 1986 to a larger aircraft, the F/A-18E Super Hornet. The Hornets used by the Blue Angels are at the end of their  carrier functionality.

The cannons in the noses of combat-ready planes are removed and replaced with a smoke fluid system that creates the trails seen during the show.

The original hornets entered active duty in January 1983 and flew combat missions in 1986. The Super Hornet has been in operational service for the  since 1999 and had its first combat missions in 2002.

The Super Hornet is about three feet longer than the original Hornet and has 25 percent more wing surface.


With weather permitting, the Blue Angels will perform more than 30 aerobatic stunts. Pilots say that their demonstrations are full of basic techniques taught to all  and  Corps aviators, but are refined a little for the show. While flying in their famous diamond formation planes can be as close as 18 inches apart.

Sources: U.S. , Blue Angels, Huntington Beach Air Show, AirShow News, Popular Mechanics, McDonnell Douglas, Aerobaticteams.net U.S.  Images


(c)2017 The Orange County Register (Santa Ana, Calif.) — www.ocregister.com

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