It can be rather difficult to appreciate that which you cannot see; naval aviation, for instance, goes on missions that civilian America does not get to witness. So how does one provoke interest among those who have a potential for careers in naval aviation?
Adm. Chester W. Nimitz, Chief of Naval Operations at the end of the Second World War, conceived of a way to achieve that goal, by ordering the creation of a flight demonstration team – and The Blue Angels was born. While the public will still not be able to witness Navy pilots in action, they will be able to see for themselves the more artistic side to naval aviation, through flight demonstrations.
The Blue Angels performed their first flight demonstration in June 1946, at Naval Air Station (NAS) in Jacksonville, Florida. The team flew the Grumman F6F Hellcat, and was led by Lt. Cmdr. Roy “Butch” Voris.
On August 25, 1946, the Blue Angels switched to flying the Grumman F8F Bearcat, and introduced the popular “diamond” formation.
Over the years, the Blue Angels took to flying the following aircraft:
• Grumman F9F-2 Panther
• Grumman F9F-5 Panther
• Grumman F9F-8 Cougar
• Grumman F11F-1 Tiger
• McDonnell Douglas F-4J Phantom II
• McDonnell Douglas A-4F Skyhawk II
• McDonnell Douglas F/A-18 Hornet
Their performances have since been witnessed by more than 260 million spectators.
The 2011 season US Navy Blue Angels Flight Demonstration Team consists of the following:
• Flying Blue Angel No.1, Capt. Greg McWherter (Commander/Leader)
• Flying Blue Angel No.2, Lieutenant Commander James Tomaszeski (Right Wing)
• Flying Blue Angel No.3, Major Brent Stevens USMC (Left Wing)
• Flying Blue Angel No.4, Lieutenant Robert Kurrle Jr. (Slot)
• Flying Blue Angel No.5, Lieutenant Ben Walborn (Lead Solo)
• Flying Blue Angel No.6, Lieutenant Christian Simonsen (Opposing Solo)
• Flying Blue Angel No.7, Lieutenant David Tickle (Advance Pilot/Narrator)
• Events Coordinator, Blue Angel No.8, Lieutenant Todd Royles
• Flying Fat Albert, M1, Captain Edward Jorge USMC
• Flying Fat Albert, M2, Captain Benjamin Blanton USMC
• Flying Fat Albert, M3, Captain John Hecker USMC
• Maintenance Officer, Lieutenant John Thompson
• Flight Surgeon, Lieutenant Jason Smith
• Administrative Officer, Chief Warrant Officer (CWO4) Adolpho Demontalvo
• Supply Officer, Chief Warrant Officer (CWO4) Clive Dixon
• Public Affairs Officer, Lieutenant Katie Kelly