Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
The United States Navy's Blue Angels, or Navy Flight Demonstration Squadron, was formed at the end of World War II, by order of Admiral Chester Nimitz, the Chief of Naval Operations, to keep the public interested in naval aviation. The Blue Angels performed their first flight demonstration less than a year later in June 1946 at their home base, Naval Air Station (NAS) Jacksonville, Florida. Flying the Grumman F6F Hellcat, they were led by Lieutenant Commander Roy "Butch" Voris.
By the end of the 1940s, the Blue Angels were flying their first jet aircraft, the Grumman F9F-2 Panther. In response to the demands placed on naval aviation in the Korean Conflict, the team reported to the aircraft carrier USS Princeton as the nucleus of Fighter Squadron 191 (VF-191), "Satan's Kitten", in 1950.
They were reorganized the next year and reported to NAS Corpus Christi, Texas, where they began flying the newer and faster version of the Panther, the F9F-5. The Blue Angels remained in Corpus Christi until the winter of 1954 when they relocated to their present home at NAS Pensacola, Florida. It was here that they progressed to the swept-wing Grumman F9F-8 Cougar.
In December 1974, the Navy Flight Demonstration Team began flying the McDonnell Douglas A-4F Skyhawk II and was reorganized into the Navy Flight Demonstration Squadron. This reorganization permitted the establishment of a commanding officer vice a flight leader, added support officers, and further redefined the squadron's mission emphasizing the support of recruiting efforts. Cmdr. Tony Less was the squadron's first official commanding officer.
On November 8, 1986, the Blue Angels completed their 40th anniversary year during ceremonies unveiling their present aircraft, the sleek McDonnell Douglas F/A-18 Hornet, the first dual-role fighter/attack aircraft now serving on the nation's front lines of defense. The Blue Angels also operate a C-130T Hercules nicknamed "Fat Albert" to provide support and put on a show of its own with a rocket-assisted take-off before the Hornets begin their show.
The Blue Angels perform more than 70 shows at 34 different locations throughout the USA each year. Since 1946, they have flown for more than 260 million spectators.
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