Wednesday, July 4, 2018
One of the highlights of the National Cherry Festival is the air show. The military flight demonstration teams are often the focal point of that show. Typically, teams from the Air Force and Navy alternate years in being part of the popular event.
This year the Blue Angels were in town. Aviators from the Navy and the Marines make up the team, which include six demonstration pilots who fly the McDonnell Douglas F/A 18 Hornets.
The planes used by the team are actually fighter aircraft that have formerly served in the fleet. They've been modified by removing weapons and outfitting each with a control stick spring system that allows the pilots more precise control for their maneuvers.
If you've ever watched an air show, you know the close proximity in which the planes fly. I try to demonstrate that in this image and others. It's actually quite scary.
The team typically start out with two planes and then other planes are added in until they reach full strength of six planes.
Here the team flies at full strength in what they call its Delta Formation. Of course, the more aircraft involved, the more dangerous the maneuvers are, especially flying at speeds of 400 mph.
The aircraft are also outfitted with tanks of special smoke-oil, resulting in the beautiful plumes that trail the Blue Angels. Here they fly low over Old Mission Peninsula.
When I shoot airshow pictures, I do so from a high spot on the edge of the flight pattern. Here, I was lucky to catch the Blue Angels as they flew directly overhead with their vapor plumes trailing behind them.