Blue Angels turn 70 years of service

Apr 24, 2016
The first team's pilots. From left to right: Lieutenant Al Taddeo, Solo; Lieutenant (junior grade) Gale Stouse, Spare; Lieutenant Commander R.M. Voris, Leader; Lieutenant Maurice Wickendoll, Right Wing; Lieutenant Mel Cassidy, Left Wing

Today US NAVY Flight Demonstration Team Blue Angels, celebrating 70th anniversary since when the team was formed.

In the morning of April 24, 1946, admiral Chester Nimitz sended directive to Vice-Admiral Frank Wagner, director of Naval Air Advanced Training Command (NAATC) in Pensacola, Florida, concerning the creation of an aerobatic team attached to the command.

The team was formed in the airbase in Jacksonville, Florida where are situated the NAATC's headquarters. For the team's commander was selected the World War II instructor and ace (with eight air victories) Lieutenant Commander Roy "Butch" Voris.

The pilots trained twice a day and after less than a month they were ready for their first flight show - on May 10, while the first public demonstration was on June 15, 1946, at Graig Field, Jacksonville. This first demonstration lasts just 12 minutes, but makes a great impression to the public. At that time only three of the planes participated at the demonstration, while the fourth held in reserve. The pilots were: Lt. Cmdr. Roy "Butch" Voris as leader, Lt. Mel Cassidy as left wing, Lt. Maurice "Wick" Wickendoll as right wing and Lt. Ross Robinson as spare. Later to the team joined Lt. Alfred "Al" Taddeo as solo and Lt. Gale Stouse flying SNJ and spare.

Since Blue Angels creation, they flew in front of half a billion spectators and performed about 4000 air displays.