Oct 21, 2011

Blue Angels

The Blue Angels team was formed in 1946 by order of Admiral Chester Nimitz in order to boost morale and demonstrate the Navy's fighting prowess. The original team flew modified Grumman F6F-5 Hellcats and has flown a total of nine aircraft. The F/A-18 Hornet is the latest and has been used since 1986 when it replaced the A-4 Skyhawk.

The Hornets in the Blue Angel Squad have been significantly modified from those that see active combat. In addition to an extra inverted fuel pump allowing for longer inverted flights without the engine becoming fuel-starved. The ultra high-gloss, low-friction paint reduces drag.

The M61 Vulcan machine gun in the nose cone has been replaced with a tank that holds the jet's supply of smoke oil. The colored smoke that the jets produce is made by injecting a biodegradable paraffin-based oil into the plane's exhaust nozzles, instantly vaporizing it. It is not only fun for spectators, the smoke trails increase each pilot's visibility to the rest of the team.

The Blue Angels planes have a small spring on the command stick that applies 40 pounds of nose-down pressure to make the plane easier to fly in formation and upside-down.

Because of space restrictions in the cockpit the Blue Angels pilots don't wear G-suits, but since the flights are coordinated, the pilots know when high G maneuvers are coming up and can perform the same task manually by clenching their stomach and leg muscles to prevent blood from rushing from their heads to their lower bodies, causing them to black out.

The Angels run on a 50-50 mix of plant-based bio-fuels and conventional fuel, making it the first and only full Navy squadron to fly with biofuels.