U.S. Navy Blue Angels Return To Fort Lauderdale Air Show For 1st Time In Over 12 Years

The U.S. Navy Blue Angels are returning to South Florida for the first time in over 12 years to headline the Fort Lauderdale Air Show.

While the oceanfront spectacle isn’t until May 4-5, aircraft aficionados can get a sneak peek of the Blue Angels when they fly into town on May 2 from their Pensacola base.

Depending on the path the Blue Angels take for their 10 a.m. arrival at the Fort Lauderdale International Airport, there’s a chance they can be seen over Fort Lauderdale Beach.

The team’s demonstration begins with a performance by “Fat Albert,” the Blue Angels’ C-130. After the C-130’s 10-minute showcase, six F/A-18 Hornets enter to the “sound of freedom.” The combat jets will delight attendees with their four-jet diamond formation in concert with two solo pilots who then join in to perform the six-jet delta formation.

The Blue Angels are actually co-headliners of the event, with the U.S. Air Force F-22 Raptor sharing top billing. The F-22 Raptor Demo Team, based at Langley Air Force Base in Virginia, is led by Maj. Paul “Loco” Lopez, who will showcase the fighter’s capabilities.

“We’re honored to have been chosen by the U.S. Air Force to feature the F-22 Raptor,” Bryan Lilley, president of the Fort Lauderdale Air Show, told the Boca Raton Tribune.  “Attendees will see a performance that defies imagination – the F-22 Raptor does backflips and stands motionless in mid-air. During high performance turns, it accelerates so rapidly that it causes its own low-pressure weather system often creating a cloud around the jet.”

With a top speed just shy of 1,500 mph, the F-22 can “supercruise” at supersonic airspeeds without using afterburner. But the F-22 isn’t all speed and nothing else. CNN reporter Thomas Patterson nailed it when describing the F-22’s nimbleness in the air.

“When you watch an F-22 flight demonstration you can see how thrust vectoring allows the plane to almost dance in midair,” he said.

For fans of old-school fighters, the GEICO Skytypers Air Show Team will be conducting an 18-minute demo.

“It’s a very dynamic demo with a lot of things happening very quickly with some maneuvers a tribute to the era of the generation of these World War II airplanes,” Squadron commander Larry Arken told Avgeekery. “Other things are done for the spectators view like a heart or a bomb burst, and other maneuvers are tactical maneuvers which the military still uses.”

The six vintage SNJ-2 single engine aircraft are known for their “low-altitude, precision-formation” flying techniques will, true to their name, “type” messages in the sky with environmentally friendly white smoke.

The air show added a water component this year, with one of the GEICO Skytypers racing the Miss GEICO Offshore Race Team.

“We’ve been doing air shows with the GEICO Skytypers since 2011, but have never had the opportunity to perform at the Fort Lauderdale Air Show,” Scott Colton, managing member of the Miss GEICO team, told the Boca Raton Tribune. “Since we’re based in Riviera Beach, this really is a perfect partnership.”

The flight performances begin at 12 p.m. on Saturday, May 4. The sequence of flight is as follows:

  • Miss GEICO vs the Skytyper

  • National Anthem – Flag Jump

  • SOCOM Para-Commandos

  • Mike Wiskus Preview

  • Dash Aerosports L-39 Aerobatic Air Racing Demo

  • Military Flyover – TBA

  • Military Demo – TBA

  • C-17 Globemaster III Demo

  • F-22 Raptor Demo

  • USAF Heritage Flight

  • GEICO Skytypers

  • U.S. Coast Guard Search and Rescue Demo

  • A-10 Warthogs

  • Mike Wiskus in the Lucas Oil Pitts

  • SOCOM Para-Commandos Full Show

  • US Navy Blue Angels

For the first time in the event’s history, the air show is hosting a Performer Welcome Party open to the public on Thursday, May 2. Fans can meet the pilots, jumpers and support crews at Steelpan Kitchen and Bar.