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The Blues April 22, 2007

Posted by daveintexas in Current Events, honor.
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Yesterday during an air show in Beaufort South Carolina, LCDR Kevin Davis (Number 6) was killed in an accident.  His F/A 18 Hornet may have clipped the top of a pine tree while he was flying at low altitude performing with the Blue Angels.

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I’ve been privileged to see the Blues perform twice, and have also seen their Air Force counterparts, the Thunderbirds on two other occasions.  There is nothing like it.  They are the best of the best.

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The Blue Angels were quietly established in 1946 by Chief of Naval Operations Chester W. Nimitz (another Texas boy).  Their mission was to boost Navy morale, to demonstrate Naval air power, and to maintain public interest in naval aviation.  They have been active since, only once in their 60+ year history drawn down during the Korean War due to a shortage of pilots and planes.  They were recommissioned in 1951.  They are comprised of pilots from the US Navy and the Marines.

The Air Force established their precision flying team, the Thunderbirds, in 1953, and flew their first performance at Luke Air Force Base in Goodyear Arizona.  Their shows are thrilling, but it’s also dangerous work, and there have been many losses.  Even if shows are in rural areas, there are still crowds of spectators to contend with. 

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One Air Force pilot, Capt. David Hauck of Mingo Jct. Ohio, crashed his T-38 while attempting to land his ailing aircraft at a show at Hill AFB in Utah in 1981.  The ground controller at the show radioed Capt. Hauck, and said “you’re on fire, punch out of there”.  But Capt. Hauck replied “hang on, we’ve got a lot of people down there”.  He struggled to maintain flight for another half mile, ultimately striking a tree and a barn, erupting into a fireball, but he avoided a large group of people on the other side of the roadway.

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It’s hard to explain to someone who’s never seen them perform, just how awesome and thrilling it can be.  Complex precision manuevers, fast and low, knife edge passes, the inverted flyovers… it’s just amazing.

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Both teams have flown many different types of aircraft.  I’ve seen the Thunderbirds in F-16s, and the Blue Angels in the F/A 18s, but I also saw them when I was much younger flying the F-4 Phantom II, a beautiful aircraft.  There’s just something awesome about a formation of six Phantoms ripping overhead.

It’s a sad day for the Blue Angels, and for the Navy.

Comments»

1. kevlarchick - April 22, 2007

Nice post, Dave. They are so loud!

2. cranky - April 22, 2007

Dave, I’ve seen both teams, The Blue Angeles once at NAS South Weymouth, and the Thunderbirds a number of times. You are right, they are the best of the best.

Fair winds and following seas. Rest in Peace, brother.

3. geoff - April 22, 2007

I’ve seen the Thunderbirds a couple of times – incredible. But it’s the easy formation that always gets me…the “Missing Man” maneuver. Gets me every time.

4. daveintexas - April 22, 2007

Here’s one with 21 F 15s for Gerald Ford

Also a very low pass by a Spitfire unsettles a reporter.

5. Wickedpinto - April 23, 2007

As far as I know, you are the only person other than I (though I was crazy) who noticed and posted about this.

6. Slublog - April 23, 2007

I love the Blue Angels.

Always have.

I’m a Navy Brat, after all.

Do they still use a C-130 as “Fat Albert?”

7. Wickedpinto - April 25, 2007

never saw the angels, seen the thunderbirds though (brother was AF) and their ability was stunning, and beautiful, but I was always terrified almost by the low fly’s of the a-10’s. those effer’s are LOUD! and look like they really don’t like flying. You almost get the sense that those planes just wanna land, turn into killer robots and slaughter the enemies hand to hand, they are so intimidating.

8. Barry - April 28, 2007

Got to see the Blue Angels once at the DoD Open House at Andrews AFB. Some years ago; they were flying the (then new) FA-18 Hornet. Amazing stuff. They did a stunt where they piggy-backed 4 planes one on top of the other and flew so close you thought they were welded together.

9. Dave in Texas - April 28, 2007

Slub, they still fly a C-130 Fat Albert. They do a JATO demonstration… extremely cool.


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