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Curious about the Blue Angels

Since 1946, these Navy fliers have been delighting audiences with their aerial feats

On May 24, 25 and 27 the Blue Angels return to Annapolis for Commissioning Week at the United States Naval Academy.
    Since 1946, the Blue Angels have been delighting audiences with their stunning and death-defying flight demonstrations and aerial feats. Here’s how their 70-year history began.
    After World War II, a group of elite fighter pilots formed the Navy Flight Exhibition Team, later to be called the Blue Angels. As well as ranking with the best pilots in the Navy, they had to satisfy one additional, surprising requirement. The pilots had to be bachelors, explained Nicholas Veronico in The Blue Angels: A Fly-By History, so there would be no worry about children left fatherless by an accident.
    Back then, these pilots were of course all male. The first female flier, Capt. Corrie Mays, joined the 16-flier Navy and Marine Corps squad in 2014. A graduate of the Naval Academy, she is one of three pilots who fly the C-130T Hercules aircraft Fat Albert, which opens the demonstration.
    The first decorated planes flown by the Blue Angels were accented with gold leaf, quite an expense for the post-war Navy. Today’s blue-and-gold jets, minus the gold leaf, are Boeing F/A-18 Hornets. Six fly in a show, two as lead and opposing solos, four in the Diamond 360 formation. Planes fly as fast as 700mph and come within 18 inches of one another during the Diamond 360 maneuver.
    “The first practices of the Blue Angels were held in secret over the Florida Everglades so that if something were to happen, only the gators would know about it,” Commander Roy M. ‘Butch’ Vorris, was quoted by Veronico as saying.
    Today the Blue Angels cross the country, flying at about 30 events a year from March through November.
    The Blue Angels fly in for practice at 11am, on Tuesday, May 24, circling until 1pm and then rehearsing. On Wednesday, May 25, they make their demonstration flight starting at 2pm. On Friday, May 27, at 10:04am, the Angels fly over the graduation ceremony at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium.


    Chesapeake Curiosities investigates regional oddities and landmarks to increase understanding of our unique local culture and history.
    Has a sight stymied you? Does an oddity bewilder? Your curiosity may be featured in an upcoming column. Send your questions to chesapeakecuriosities@gmail.com.