The Blue Angels Just Said Goodbye To The F/A-18 Legacy Hornet With A Final Sunset Flight

The team captured the goodbye in gorgeous images and video. Now they will complete their transition to the Super Hornet.

USN

The world-famous Blue Angels have officially flown their last flight with the F/A-18A/B/C/D "Legacy" Hornet. The naval multi-role fighter served as the flight demonstration squadron's mount for 34 years. The official 'sundown' formation flight occurred on November 4th, 2020, over the team's hometown of Pensacola, Florida, fittingly just before sunset. Now the squadron will finish its transition to its new jet, the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet.

Check out video and images of the sundown flight below:

US Navy Blue Angels
US Navy Blue Angels
US Navy Blue Angels
US Navy Blue Angels
US Navy Blue Angels
US Navy Blue Angels
US Navy Blue Angels

The Navy's flight demonstration squadron will now enter into its winter training phase with its new mount, a fleet that will eventually total 18 early-block F/A-18E/Fs that have been upgraded specifically for the Blue Angels' mission. You can read all about how these jets are being modified and how they will impact a revamped demonstration in this article of ours. 

The team will then head to its remote winter training site at Naval Air Facility (NAF) El Centro in Southern California in January, where it will have a couple of months to perfect the altered demonstration with the larger Super Hornets before the 2021 show season kicks off at the base. The Blues will also have their new—at least to them—KC-130J "Fat Albert" Super Hercules transport for next year's show season, which will mark the team's 75th anniversary. Altogether, it will be a monumental year for the squadron.

US Navy Blue Angels

Old vs new: A Blue Angels F/A-18 Super Hornet breaks away from a Blue Angels Legacy Hornet.

The Navy, as a whole, has moved quickly to retire the Legacy Hornet, with all of the aircraft being withdrawn from frontline service in 2018. A number of them still serve in support and training roles, but the Marines have acquired the cream of the Navy's retired fleet. Some of those jets will serve for a decade more in an upgraded form, which you can read all about here

For many of us who grew up watching the Blue Angles in their iconic Legacy Hornets, the introduction of which marked a big boost in performance over the A-4 Skyhawks they had before, this is a bittersweet moment. Still, a new demo that takes full advantage of the Super Hornet's unique capabilities, and some newer and more maintainable jets for the team, is a welcome development indeed. 

Contact the author: Tyler@thedrive.com