Sky-High Unity: Blue Angels and Thunderbirds Train Together for 2024

Blue Angels U.S. Navy
February 27, 2024 Topic: Security Region: Americas Blog Brand: The Buzz Tags: U.S. NavyNavyMilitaryBlue AngelsThunderbirdsDefense

Sky-High Unity: Blue Angels and Thunderbirds Train Together for 2024

The U.S. Navy's Blue Angels and the U.S. Air Force's Thunderbirds, two premier aerial demonstration teams, are collaborating for a joint training exchange at Naval Air Facility El Centro to enhance interoperability and share best practices ahead of the 2024 show season.

Summary: The U.S. Navy's Blue Angels and the U.S. Air Force's Thunderbirds, two premier aerial demonstration teams, are collaborating for a joint training exchange at Naval Air Facility El Centro to enhance interoperability and share best practices ahead of the 2024 show season. This partnership highlights the exceptional skill and dedication of both teams, emphasizing their commitment to precision and teamwork across branches. Marking their fifth consecutive year of joint training, this initiative not only prepares them for their respective show seasons but also strengthens military camaraderie. The Blue Angels and Thunderbirds continue to inspire with their airborne excellence and dedication to representing U.S. military prowess.

Showcasing Strength and Skill: Blue Angels and Thunderbirds' Collaborative Training

There may be interservice rivalry when it comes to sporting competitions, but two U.S. military teams know how to operate quite well together – despite one being from the U.S. Navy while the other is from the U.S. Air Force. We're talking about the U.S. Navy Flight Demonstration Squadron, more commonly known as the Blue Angels, and the U.S. Air Force Air Demonstration Squadron, the Thunderbirds.

The members of the two elite aerial performance teams are arguably among the most capable and skilled aviators flying for the U.S. military today, and it was announced last week that they will conduct a joint training exchange onboard Naval Air Facility (NAF) El Centro, through March 1, to trade best practices and develop team interoperability in preparation for the 2024 show season.

Both the Blue Angels and Thunderbirds are in the middle of their winter training cycles and will not conduct performances. Rather they're spending time together to conduct training flights with similar profiles to the air show routine will be conducted in accordance with annual training objectives.

"We've been eagerly looking forward to our annual joint training session with the Thunderbirds," explained Commander Alex Armatas, commanding officer and flight leader of the Blue Angels. "This marks the fifth consecutive year that we have had the privilege of engaging in collaborative training with the Thunderbirds, allowing us to exchange knowledge and skills. Our Air Force counterparts truly grasp the level of commitment and effort required to execute flight demonstrations nationwide."

The last time the Blue Angels and Thunderbirds performed together at an air show was at the Point Mugu Air Show in Point Mugu, Calif., which took place on March 18-19, 2023.

Meet the Blue Angels

According to the U.S. Navy, 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 the country.

In 1946, the Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Chester Nimitz, had a vision to create a flight exhibition team to raise the public's interest in naval aviation and boost Navy morale. The United States Navy Flight Exhibition Team's first demonstration took place on June 15, 1946, at Naval Air Station Jacksonville, Florida, which was also the squadron's first home base – while the team was first introduced with its now more commonly known name, Blue Angels, at an airshow in Omaha, Nebraska, just a month later.

This year marks the Blue Angels' 78th show season representing the United States Navy and Marine Corps. The team currently flies the F/A-18 Super Hornet.

The Blue Angels recently completed their seventh week of training at El Centro, and are preparing to take to the skies on March 9 at the El Centro Air Show – the first of 64 flight demonstrations at 32 locations across the United States this year.

Thunderbirds Are Go

The Thunderbirds' mission is to recruit, retain, and inspire past, present and future Airmen while showcasing the pride, precision and professionalism of America's Airmen. 2024 also marks the Thunderbirds' 71st year representing the United States Air Force, and the team is scheduled to perform 54 flight demonstrations at 29 locations across the United States and Canada in 2024

The Thunderbirds squadron is an Air Combat Command unit composed of eight pilots (including six demonstration pilots), four support officers, three civilians, and more than 130 enlisted personnel performing in 25 career fields. The team performs approximately 30 maneuvers in a demonstration, while an entire show, including ground and air, runs about an hour and fifteen minutes. The Thunderbirds also demonstrate the capabilities of the F-16 Fighting Falcon multirole jet fighter.

The season lasts from March to November, with the winter months used to train new members.

The Thunderbirds are currently in the final phase of winter training, and its first air show of 2024 will be the Luke Days Air Show, March 23-24 at Luke Air Force Base, Arizona.

Author Experience and Expertise: Peter Suciu

Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer. He has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers, and websites with over 3,200 published pieces over a twenty-year career in journalism. He regularly writes about military hardware, firearms history, cybersecurity, politics, and international affairs. Peter is also a Contributing Writer for Forbes and Clearance Jobs. You can follow him on Twitter: @PeterSuciu. You can email the author: [email protected].