The Blue Angels And Thunderbirds Jet Teams Are Secretly Planning Something Big (Updated)

The teams have come together at NAS Pensacola under mysterious circumstances and there are indications that a national flyover could be imminent.

Glenn Watson via USAF Thunderbirds

With air show dates canceled for months to come, the U.S. Navy's Blue Angels and United Stated Air Force's Thunderbirds flight demonstration teams have continued training, and in the case of the latter, they have used some of their flight time to thank their hometown healthcare workers and other essential personnel, as well as those in Colorado, in a way that only they can. Now, in something that seems more and more like a 'cloak and dagger operation,' the Thunderbirds have deployed to the Blue Angel's home base at NAS Pensacola in Florida for a rare cooperative training event. But there may be more to the story. By multiple accounts, something big is in the works—as in something so big that it could span the entire United States. 

Our friends over at the always remarkable Airshowstuff.com have laid out the clues and rumors that point to the two jet teams preparing to go on a national tour of sorts to salute all of America's frontline healthcare workers that are fighting the war against COVID-19 and the essential workers who are keeping the country running in these bizarre and troubling times. We are essentially talking about a goodwill tour of a mammoth and unprecedented scale.

Airshowstuff.com stated the following in a recent post:

On Sunday, an extensive list of cities across the country was posted to social media with claims that it was a schedule for a number of flyovers to be conducted between April 23rd and May 2nd. The supposed plan would see the Thunderbirds and Blue Angels join forces for a mass flyover of East Coast cities like New York City and Washington, DC before splitting up to cover different sections of the country. The Thunderbirds would take the Western US while the Blue Angels cover the Midwest. They would again meet in Texas for a day of joint flyovers to close the program.

This all seemed pretty far-fetched. A nation-wide campaign like this would take immense planning and resources, and would certainly require some travel in a time when travel is to be minimized.

However, evidence is growing that the list of flyovers may in fact be a real plan. On Monday afternoon aviation spotters heard Thunderbird 1 check in with the air traffic control tower at NAS Pensacola with 8 other aircraft in his formation. Other spotters posted videos of the jets landing at the base. A local photographer, Laura Bogan, snapped pictures of all 9 jets flying over the area before landing.

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For now, the teams are not confirming anything publicly and have made no comments on why the Thunderbirds have dropped in to Pensacola. We reached out to the teams for comment Sunday evening. As of Monday afternoon, we have not received a response. It is likely that they are remaining quiet while final details are worked out, and it is also possible that they will keep plans under wraps until the last minute to discourage any long-distance travel.

The original post was deleted shortly after appearing and no further details have leaked. It is evident that something big is brewing; the teams spending any time together is a fairly rare and special event and they already spent time together earlier this year. This does not have the feeling of a normal “joint training” session.

Make sure to read the entire post with more clues over at Airshowstuff.com

Both of the iconic teams are considered by many as national treasures and a showcase of American excellence and the best and brightest our military has to offer. Their purpose is often referenced as being primarily for recruitment, but really, these teams do much more than that. The Blue Angels' mission statement says it all:

The mission of the Blue Angels is to showcase the teamwork and professionalism of the United States Navy and Marine Corps through flight demonstrations and community outreach while inspiring a culture of excellence and service to country.

With this in mind, there really isn't a better or more visible ambassador to lift the American people's spirits and to salute those who are serving the country—from doctors and nurses to grocery store clerks to EMTs to truckers—in their own unique way during this pandemic. 

Some will decry the cost of such an endeavor. While the funding for these teams is always a simmering debate, the fact is that they are all accomplished fighter pilots and support personnel who need to constantly train. Whether they are in or working on gray or colorfully painted jets doesn't change that. So, why not at least use that flight time to spread a positive message and give people a little joy in what has been bleak and uncertain period?

Who knows, maybe this is just some impromptu training event, but considering this 'flying salute' concept has already been tested by the Thunderbirds, I highly doubt there isn't more to this story. 

We will keep you updated as more details about this "training event" emerge. 

UPDATE: 12:50AM PST—

The 57th Wing Commander, who oversees the Thunderbirds, posted the following on his Instagram account. It is pretty much confirmation that something is indeed afoot:

UPDATE: 1:52PM PST—

Here is the original draft to ATC about the flyover. Apparently, it has been pushed back a week:

Anonymous 

Our updates to this story have ended. You can find our continuing coverage of planning for this event here.

Contact the author: Tyler@thedrive.com