by Peggy Hattendorf – Travel Editor
Add a performance by The Blue Angels, the U.S. Navy Flight Demonstration Squadron, to your “travel must-sees” list. The team has an extensive nationwide performance schedule as well as practices and major air shows in Pensacola Florida. It is a great way for a quick trip to experience the thrills of viewing this highly trained squadron with nerves of steel demonstrate and exemplify precision techniques and aerobatic maneuvers each directed and delivered in perfectly orchestrated formation.
Pensacola Florida is the official home of The Blue Angels. Both the city of Pensacola and The Naval Air Station in Pensacola provide year-round hometown cheer and pride with their practices and air shows.
The Blue Angels squadron is:
* the second oldest formal flying aerobatic team (under the same name) in the world formed in 1946.
* composed of 16 officers and 110 enlisted personnel from the Navy and the Marine Corp.
* viewed by 15 million spectators during air shows every year.
At some shows the squadron will fly the Delta formation, with 6 jets or a diamond formation with 4 jets. When the airmen are flying in a tight diamond formation they maintain an 18-inch wing-tip to canopy separation. The fastest speed recorded at an airshow was 700mph or just under Mach 1.
The “jaw-dropping” airshow maneuvers include:
* the opposing passes – two aircraft flying toward each other as if on a collision course
* the mirror formation – two jets flying back-to-back or belly-to-belly
* the inverted position or wingtip-to-wingtip – with one jet flying upside down
* vertical take-offs
* take-offs with landing gear still fully extended adding to the drag of the aircraft
(In 2016, Boeing was awarded a $12 million contract to convert the Boeing F/A 18 E/F Super Hornet for Blue Angels use, which should be completed by September 2017.)
The jets assemble, for the air show, in perfect order on the runway awaiting their commands. With the roar of the engines, the excitement begins. Then we have take-off . . . .