Frequently Asked Questions
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    Exclamation Frequently Asked Questions

    New York nightclub inspired name

    Q: What is the mission of the Blue Angels?

    A: The mission of the Blue Angels is to enhance Navy recruiting and credibly represent Navy and Marine Corps aviation to the United States and its Armed Forces to America and other countries as international ambassadors of good will.

    Q: Where did the name "Blue Angels" originate?

    A: The name was originated by the original team when planning a show in New York in 1946. One of them came across the name of the city's famous Blue Angel nightclub in the New Yorker Magazine.

    Q: Where was the Blue Angels' first air show?

    A: Craig Field, Jacksonville, Florida, on June 15, 1946.

    Q: How many Blue Angels demonstration pilots have there been?

    A: The Blue Angels have had 232 demonstration pilots, and 32 Flight Leaders/Commanding Officers.

    Q: How does someone become a Blue Angel demonstration pilot?

    A: Navy and Marine Corps pilots meeting the basic requirements submit an application directly to the team via the Applications Officer. Applicants visit the squadron at scheduled show sites early in the show season to observe the team firsthand. Finalists are selected mid-season and interviewed at the Blue Angels squadron in Pensacola. The new demonstration pilots and support officers are selected by unanimous vote. The Chief of Naval Air Training selects the Flight Leader/Commanding Officer.

    Q: What happens if a Blue Angel demonstration pilot is ill or hurt?

    A: Safety is paramount for every demonstration. Each pilot is responsible for good health and safety; however, the Blue Angels Flight Surgeon will medically disqualify a pilot if one should become ill or injured. Should the Flight Leader/Commanding Officer be grounded for medical purposes, the demonstration will be canceled.

    Q: Why don't the Blue Angels maintain a spare pilot?

    A: With the number of practice hours required to safely fly a demonstration a spare pilot could not be utilized effectively. Each pilot must complete 120 training flights during winter training in order to perform a public demonstration safely. The teamwork required for the high-speed, low-altitude flying in the tight Blue Angel formation takes hundreds of hours to develop. A substitute pilot would not have enough time in the formation to do this safely.

    Q: Why don't the pilots wear G-suits?

    A: G-suits are designed with air bladders (pockets) that inflate and deflate to keep a pilot's blood from pooling in the pilots' legs while executing sharp, unpredicted combat maneuvers. Unlike combat flying, the Blue Angels demonstration pilots know the maneuvers they will fly prior to execution, so each pilot knows when one will be pulling heavy gravitational forces. Anticipating the changes in gravitational forces allows the Blue Angels demonstration pilots to combat the G-forces with muscle contractions. In addition, the Boeing F/A-18's control stick is mounted between the pilot's legs. The Blue Angels have a spring tensioned with 35 pounds of pressure installed on the control stick that gives the pilot a "false feel." This allows the pilot minimal room for uncommanded movement. The pilots rest their right arms on their thighs for support and stability while flying. Therefore, inflating and deflating air bladders in a G-suit would interrupt this support and stability, causing uncommanded aircraft movement. In this case, G-suits would detrimentally impact flight safety.

    Q: Have any Blue Angels become astronauts?

    A: Commander Chuck Brady, Flight Surgeon, 1989-90.

    Q: What is the average age of a Blue Angels pilot?

    A: 33 years old.

    Q: Are the Blue Angels the "best of the best?"

    A: The Blue Angels are representatives of the excellence and professionalism found throughout the fleet. Each Blue Angels team member is an ambassador and representative of fleet counterpart.

    Q: How long is a Blue Angel tour of duty?

    A: The demonstration pilots, Maintenance Officer, Events Coordinator, and Flight Surgeon each serve a two-year tour. All other members, including the Narrator, serve three-year tour. Each member returns to the fleet after completing a tour with the Blue Angels.

    Q: How many Marines serve in the squadron? A: There are 16 Marines the 2007 team. Eight in Fat Albert, six in maintenance, No. 4 jet and No. 7 jet.

    Q: How do team members deal with the time away from home?

    A: Individuals are made aware that they will be away from home a lot before they volunteer for duty with the team and are selected based on their ability to cope

    with, not only family separation, but with a strenuous practice and show schedule. Additionally, the Navy, Blue Angels, and civilian communities at Pensacola and El Centro, Calif., provide a family-type support network.

    Q: Do any of the Blue Angels get extra pay?

    A: No. Each member of the squadron volunteers for duty with the Blue Angels. Due to keen competition at all levels, each individual feels especially honored to be associated with the team.

    Q: What is considered minimum visibility for a Blue Angel performance?

    A: To be able to perform, the Blue Angels must have at least 3 nautical miles of visibility horizontally from centerpoint, and a minimum cloud ceiling of 1,500 feet. At these minimums, the Blue Angels can perform a limited number of maneuvers in what is called a "flat" show. When the ceiling is at least 3,500 feet and visibility at least 3 nautical miles a "low" show can be performed, which includes some rolling maneuvers. With a minimum ceiling of 8,000 feet and visibility of 3 nautical miles, the Blue Angels can perform their "high" show, which includes all maneuvers.

    Q: What is the lowest and highest maneuver heights performed during an air show?

    A: This varies due to weather conditions. The highest is the vertical rolls performed by the Opposing Solo (up to 15,000 feet) and the lowest is the Sneak Pass (50 feet) performed by the Lead Solo.

    Q: What are the fastest and slowest speeds flown during an air show?

    A: The fastest speed is about 700 mph (just under Mach 1; Sneak Pass) and the slowest speed is about 120 mph (indicated speed; Section High Alpha), both flown by the solo pilots during the show.

    Q: How many jets are in the Squadron?

    A: The Blue Angels currently have 12 jets: 10 single seat F/A-18 A models and two 2-seat F/A-18 B models.

    Q: What are the major differences between the fleet model and the Blue Angel F/A-18?

    A: The Blue Angel F/A-18s have the nose cannon removed, a smokeoil tank installed and a spring installed on the stick which applies pressure for better formation and inverted flying. Otherwise, the aircraft that the squadron flies are the same as those in the fleet. Each Blue Angel aircraft is fleet capable of being returned to combat duty aboard an aircraft carrier within 72 hours.

    Q: How do the jets get to each show site?

    A: The demonstration pilots fly the jets to each show site.

    Q: Why is the C-130 called "Fat Albert?"

    A: "Fat Albert" is a nickname given to the plane by Marine Corps Blue Angel pilots in the 1970s because of its size and shape and is a reference to the popular children's cartoon of the same era.

    Q: How much fuel does Fat Albert hold?

    A: Fat Albert holds 46,000 pounds of fuel.

    Q: What is the normal cruising speed and shaft horsepower per motor of Fat Albert?

    A: Fat Albert's cruising speed is 360 mph and shaft horsepower is about 4,500 per engine.

    Q: What is the maximum takeoff weight of Fat Albert?

    A: 155,000 pounds.


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