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Blue Angels Air Shows in the DC Area: Introduction
The Blue Angels perform from March through November each year, ending the year with homecoming shows at their official base in Pensacola, Florida. In 2017, those shows take place November 11 and 12.
Each year in May and June, the Blue Angels aviators make key stops in their annual tour: In May, it's Annapolis for the US Naval Academy's Commissioning Week and in June, it's another air show in Maryland, typically the Ocean City Air Show, as it was in 2017, or the Naval Air Station (air base) Patuxent River Air Expo, as it will be in 2018.
2018 Blue Angels Air Shows in the Washington, D.C., Area
May 23 and 24: Annapolis, Maryland. The US Naval Academy (USNA) air show over the Severn River on the USNA campus.
May 25: Annapolis, Maryland. The USNA graduation flyover at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium. This is a tradition at the USNA and happens on the last day of Commissioning Week. In 2018, Commissioning Week is scheduled for May 18–25.
The Blue Angels' Full 2018 Schedule
Here is the entire 2017 and 2018 airshow schedule for the US Navy's Blue Angels, according to the Blue Angels themselves.Continue to 2 of 6 below.
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Annapolis: Blue Angels at the US Naval Academy, May 23–25, 2018
Each May, visitors flock to downtown Annapolis, Maryland, to watch the Blue Angels perform. These top US Navy and US Marines pilots carry out aerial demonstrations at the two-day US Naval Academy air show and at the end of USNA graduation week—both in Annapolis. The shows include graceful, fast-paced aerobatic maneuvers of multiple planes flying in formation.
The First and Second Days
May 23 and 24, 2018: The first day is typically reserved for a two-hour, midday flight rehearsal, and the second day the Blue Angels carry out a two-hour, 15-minute flight demonstration with all the skills at their disposal. Crowds gather on the banks of the Severn River on the USNA campus to witness the Blue Angels' amazing aerial performances.
The Third Day
May 25, 2018: The is the moment for the Blue Angels' time-honored USNA graduation flyover. Each year,... approximately 1,000 midshipmen—officers in training—graduate from the US Naval Academy and receive their commissions as ensigns in the US Navy or second lieutenants in the US Marine Corps. A few will be commissioned as officers in other US services or the services of allied nations.
Each May, the Blue Angels flyover above the lucky graduates who have made it through four grueling years to Commissioning Week is an emotional high point in the celebrations. Graduates cheer and salute the Blue Angels as they soar above Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis.Continue to 3 of 6 below.
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Naval Air Station Patuxent: Patuxent River Air Expo '18, June 2 and 3, 2018
In 2018, the Blue Angels perform in June at the Patuxent River Expo, held at Patuxent River Naval Air Station (air base) in Maryland. This is intended as a free and open event for the entire community.
Two Days in Patuxent, Maryland
In 2018, the Blue Angels air show in Patuxent, Maryland, will be June 2 and 3. The Blue Angels' top Navy and Marine pilots will put on demonstrations of skill and be daring at NAS Patuxent River Air Expo '18.
Such performances usually include a wide variety of military demos featuring the US Navy's core Boeing F/A-18 Hornet, the US Air Force's highly advanced F-22 Raptor, the US Marine Corps MV-22 Osprey, plus the A-10 Warthog.
Very often, shows also feature the US Army’s Special Operations Command Parachute demonstration team—the Black Daggers—and the Legacy Hornet Tac Demo F/A-18 Hornet demonstration team.
Civilian acts usually include the Geico Skytypers; the only civilian-owned AV/8B Harrier; Joe Edwards’ B-25 bomber "Panchito";... astronaut Joe Edwards, who performs in his T-28 Trojan; Charlie VandenBossche in his Yak -52; Scott Francis in the MXS; and more.Continue to 4 of 6 below.
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Angels in Flight
The Blue Angels air shows demonstrate choreographed flight skills of the U.S. Navy's Flight Demonstration Squadron. The air shows include graceful, fast-paced aerobatic maneuvers of two, four, and six planes flying in formation. The presentation includes four-plane, graceful, acrobatic maneuvers referred to as diamond maneuvers. Six jets perform maneuvers in the well-known Delta Formation. And solo pilots demonstrate high-performance, extreme high-speed and low-speed stunts.
What to Expect
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- A Blue Angels performance features the team’s six core Boeing F/A-18 Hornets, its US Marine Corps Lockheed C-130T big transport plane, aka "Fat Albert," and the US Air Force's technically advanced F-22 Raptors.
- The highest Blue Angels maneuver performed in an air show is vertical rolls performed by a solo pilot, who ascended up to 15,000 feet; the lowest maneuver performed in an air show is the dangerous Sneak Pass, performed by the lead solo at only 50 feet above the ground.
- Shows are a... combination of Diamond Formation maneuvers with four aircraft performing loops, roles, and formation transitions at up to 400 miles per hour. Solo pilots execute high-speed passes, slow passes, fast rolls, slow rolls, and tight turns at high-performance speeds of up to 700 mph and speeds as slow as 120 mph. A traditional element of performances is the Delta Formation, with five jets fanning out gradually over a point pilot.
- Each aircraft leaves smoky contrails—wide vapor streaks in the sky. The trail of smoke is produced by pumping biodegradable, paraffin-based oil directly into the exhaust nozzles of the aircraft where the oil is instantly vaporized into smoke. It provides an obvious path for spectators to follow and enhances the safety of flight by providing a means by which solo pilots can see each other during opposing maneuvers. The contrails pose no hazard to the environment.
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Who Are the Blue Angels?
The Blue Angels are a team of 16 top Navy and Marine Corps jet pilots. After a rigorous, highly competitive selection process, aviators voluntarily serve two to three years with the Blue Angels. At the end of this time, they return to their fleet assignments.
Top Aviators With a Mission
Every year, about 15 million spectators see the Blue Angels perform at some 70 air shows in 34 US locations. Since their founding in 1946, the Blue Angels have performed for more than 260 million spectators.
The Blue Angels' stated mission is "to showcase the pride and professionalism of the United States Navy and Marine Corps by inspiring a culture of excellence and service to country through flight demonstrations and community outreach" through visits to schools and hospitals at each place they visit.
The Blue Angels must train hard and spend much of the winter doing just that at Naval Air Facility El Centro in California. Every January through March, each aviator must fly 120 training... missions (two practices a day, six days a week) in order to perform safely. This achieved, they fly home to Pensacola and continue practicing there and on the road throughout the show season, which is March through November.Continue to 6 of 6 below.
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Hornets and Raptors
The Boeing F/A-18 Hornet is the Blue Angels', and the US Navy's, core aircraft. The Blue Angels currently have 12 jets: 10 single seat F/A-18 A models and two 2-seat F/A-18 B models. The team has flown more than 10 different aircraft in its 65-year history.
F/A-18 Hornet Facts
- The basic acquisition price of a single F/A-18 Hornet is approximately $21 million.
- The F/A-18 can reach speeds just under Mach 2, almost twice the speed of sound, or about 1,400 mph.
- An F/A-18 weighs about 24,500 pounds, empty of all ordnance and aircrew.
- Until 2017, the Blue Angels flew McDonnell Douglas F/A-18 Hornets. In 2016, Boeing agreed to convert Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornets for the Blue Angels' use by September 2017.
The F-22 Raptor
Blue Angels air shows also feature the US Air Force's technically advanced stealth tactical fighter, the Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor, which is the Air Force's newest fighter aircraft. Its combination of stealth, supercruise, maneuverability, and integrated... avionics represents an exponential leap in warfighting capabilities. The Raptor performs both air-to-air and air-to-ground missions, making it a fighter aircraft for the 21st century.