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Navy's Blue Angels prepare for final flight with legacy F/A-18 Hornets

The U.S. Navy's Blue Angels flight demonstration team, here at a 2019 presentation, will retire its remaining F/A-18 Hornet fighter plane after a flight on Wednesday. Photo courtesy of U.S. Navy
The U.S. Navy's Blue Angels flight demonstration team, here at a 2019 presentation, will retire its remaining F/A-18 Hornet fighter plane after a flight on Wednesday. Photo courtesy of U.S. Navy

Nov. 4 (UPI) -- The Blue Angels demonstration flight team will use its F/A-18 Hornet fighter plane on Wednesday for the last time in a flight over Florida, the U.S. Navy announced.

The team of planes, formally the U.S. Navy Flight Demonstration Squadron, has used Hornets for the past 34 years, but has transitioned to the F/A-18 E/F Super Hornet platform.

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Only one of the legacy aircraft, which will take their final flight on Wednesday at 5:00 p.m. EST, remains in the squadron.

"We are incredibly honored to have the opportunity to salute those teams who have flown, maintained and supported this platform for over three decades of service," Cmdr. Brian Kesselring, Blue Angels commanding officer, said in a press release.

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"We deeply appreciate the expertise and operational knowledge Blue Angels past and present have brought to the team and we look forward to enhancing our operations as we fully transition to flying the Super Hornet," Kesselring said.

The demonstration team began in 1946 as a civilian and military morale-building experiment, and travels to air shows around the world to exhibit aerial maneuvers.

It first used the F/A-18A and F/A-18B Hornet platforms in 1986, and transitioned to C and D models, since discontinued, in 2010.

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The planes have modifications, including special paint, smoke generators and fuel pumps operable as the aircraft fly upside-down.

The Blue Angels arrive at demonstrations with a companion cargo plane carrying spare parts and personnel. The C-130J Super Hercules, purchased from Britain's Royal Navy, is painted in the squadron's distinctive blue and gold scheme, and is known as "Fat Albert."

Wednesday's 30-minute flight will take off and land at Naval Air Station Pensacola, Fla.

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