You don’t have to be the president of the United States to watch the Blue Angels Navy Flight Demonstration Squadron fly. You don’t have to be a member of the winning Super Bowl team, or a famous actor. You don’t even have to buy a ticket or register for anything.
In fact, the requirements couldn’t be simpler.
You just have to show up at 11:30 a.m. sharp at the viewing area of the National Naval Aviation Museum (1750 Radford Blvd., Ste B, NAS Pensacola, FL 32508, phone 850-452-3604) on most Tuesdays and Wednesdays from now through early November, 2015. That’s when these superstars will be practicing. And you can watch for free.
The Naval Aviation Museum and the headquarters of the Blue Angels are located in the Naval Air Station in Pensacola.
The teamwork required for the high speed, low-altitude formation flying takes hundreds of hours to develop, and each pilot must complete 120 training flights during winter training in order to perform a public demonstration safely.
The pilots fly F/A-18 A Hornets (which cost approximately $21 million apiece, without extras), and what they do in them is mind-boggling. The team flies as fast as 700 mph and as slow as 120 mph, and as close to each other as 18 inches during the Diamond 360 maneuver.
These F/A-18 A Hornets cost a mind-boggling $21 million each—without extras!
It gets better.
The team visits the museum to answer questions and sign autographs after Wednesday practices, so you can meet your heroes.
Not only can you watch the Blue Angels perform, you can meet them.
Museum admission is also free -- and it provides hands-on history and fun for your whole gang. There, you can see more than 4,000 artifacts and more than 150 meticulously restored aircraft representing Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard aviation.
You can see this display of the Blue Angels’ jets at the Naval Aviation Museum.
You can climb into one of the Flight Simulators to experience the thrill of flight for yourself.
Pretend to be an Angel and have your picture taken in this mock-up at the Museum.
And you won’t want to miss watching a show in the IMAX Theatre: the screen is enormous and the effect is mesmerizing. Afterwards, recharge your engines with a tasty lunch in the authentic Cubi Bar Café, brimming with memorabilia.
The Blue Angels practice schedule is subject to change without notice and is weather permitting, for everyone's safety.
Lauren Tjaden and the Blue Angels crew of Fat Albert
All photos by Lauren and Paul Tjaden for VISIT FLORIDA