Save $1,000!Original Stan Stokes 30" x 45" acrylic painting on canvas.
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In 1946 Navy brass selected LCdr. Roy "Butch" Voris, a fighter pilot with WW II experience, to organize a flight exhibition team. The twenty-six-year-old Voris wasted no time in forming his team, and developed an exciting low altitude acrobatic demonstration utilizing the F6F Hellcat fighter. Recognizing the need for a minimum of distractions, Voris selected only bachelors for his embryonic flight team. When the group put on their first demonstration, Voris' commanding officer called them a bunch of crazy S.O.B.s who were going to kill themselves. Nonetheless, the show was impressive and the Navy moved ahead.
Lacking a name for this new group a contest was held, but no names were submitted which the pilots all liked. One day Voris' #2 - Wick Wickendall - saw an ad for a night club called the Blue Angel in a magazine. From that day forward the name "Blue Angels" was official.
The team quickly transitioned to the faster F8 Bearcat, but when the Korean War began, the group was temporarily disbanded, and its pilots formed the nucleus of VF-191 Satan's Kittens. Following the war Voris was asked again to reactivate the team, this time utilizing the Panther jet. In 1955 the Angels transitioned to their first supersonic aircraft the F-8 Cougar. In 1957 they switched to the F-11, and in 1969 they began flying the F-4 Phantom II. Plagued with maintenance difficulties the group dropped the F-4 in 1974 in favor of the diminutive A-4 Skyhawk. In 1985 the Blue Angels began utilizing the McDonnel Douglas F/A-18 Hornet, one of the most capable fighter and attack aircraft in the world.
Flying at speeds in the 400-500 MPH range with only 36 inches of separation during most of their shows, the pilot are subject to G forces equal to eight times the weight of gravity. However, the Blue Angels perform without the use of G-suits.
The Blues are made up of an all volunteer group. Pilots typically have 8-10 years of fighter experience (1500 or more hours), are carrier qualified, and have had time as instructors. The Blue Angels follow an intensive training program. They fly six days a week, with only a 2-3 week break in November of each year. The Blue Angel pilots and their ground support crew spend about 300 days a year away from home.
The support team, which flies from show to show in a specially modified C-130 nicknamed Fat Albert, is of vital importance. A Blue Angels show has never been canceled due to a maintenance or equipment problem, and no spectators have ever been injured during a demonstration.
In 1992 the Blue Angels were given the opportunity of visiting the former Soviet Union to become the first American flight demonstration team to perform over Moscow. This was a significant event as it truly signified the change taking place in the former Soviet Union, and the new post Cold War relationship which was evolving. Lead by Cdr. Greg Wooldridge, the Blue Angels took Moscow by storm. A series of exchange flights took place with the Russian pilots having their first exposure to American-built aircraft, and the Blue Angels having opportunity to fly in SU-27s and Mig-31s, two of the hottest Russian aircraft.
As depicted in Stan Stokes' highly-detailed painting entitled Angels and Knights, a Blue Angel F-18 and a Russian Knight SU-27 make a low altitude pass over Red Square, in a symbolic gesture signifying the end of the Cold War.