Blue Angels: Celebrating 75 years of precision flying

Blue fighter jets with yellow markings flying in close formation (© Mathieu Belanger/Reuters)
F/A-18 Hornets from the Blue Angels, the U.S. Navy's flight demonstration squadron, perform at the Quebec International Air Show in Quebec City in June 2008. (© Mathieu Belanger/Reuters)

The Blue Angels fly upwards of 1,126 kilometers per hour, sometimes a mere 46 centimeters apart, and even upside down. These aerial acrobatics make the U.S. Navy’s special flight exhibition team a spectacular sight.

The team, named after a famed 1940s New York City nightclub, is celebrating its 75th anniversary in 2021 with performances in the United States and Canada.

Formed after World War II to increase interest in aviation, the Blue Angels flew an inaugural performance on June 15, 1946, in Jacksonville, Florida. Since then, the team has entertained more than 450 million people worldwide, becoming a hallmark of teamwork and excellence.

Blue Angel pilots must have at least 1,250 flight hours. Some train at the Navy Fighter Weapons School, known as TOPGUN, the setting for the 1986 movie Top Gun, starring Tom Cruise.

Blue Angels planes flying in formation over London (U.S. Navy Blue Angels)
U.S. Navy Blue Angels planes fly over London in 1965. (U.S. Navy Blue Angels)