Published in the October 1947 issue of Naval Aviation News
Photographer & Author Unknown

The Angels come and go, but the Navy’s Blue Angels flight exhibition team rolls on, entertaining more than a million spectators at 30 air shows across the nation in the past 16 months.

The team of ace fighter pilots has traveled more than 35,000 miles to participate in the shows. They performed in nearly every locale from the West Coast to the East and from El Paso to Chicago. None of the original four-man team is still on duty with the Angels, calls of sea duty, line school and other acts of BuPers being what they are.

Today’s team comprises five fighter pilots flying F8F’s and a Jap-painted SNJ and 11 machinist’s mates and radioman to maintain the equipment. They operate out of Jacksonville.

They are not a stunt team, but show the public intricate patterns of combat flying. Their show includes evasive fighter tactics executed in tight formation, column loops, Cuban eights and reverse echelon rolls, ending up with a mock dog fight with the Zeke. Somehow the Jap always gets shot down, leaving a trail of smoke and dropping a dummy which is promptly "captured."

Originally the Angels flew F6F’s but were equipped with the best fighter the Navy had when they became available. The pilots were from the instructors advanced training unit at Jacksonville who volunteered for such duty. Their first public showing was at the Southeastern Air Show and Exposition at Crag Field on 16 June 1946.

Since then they have flown at Corpus Christi, Des Moines, Pensacola, Denver, Omaha, Beth Page, L.I.; Cleveland Air Races, Parkersburg, W.Va.; Ottumwa, Jacksonville, Oakland, Santa Maria, Calif.; Miami Atlanta, Banana River, Whiting Field, El Paso, Tampa, St. Petersburg, Orlando, Charleston, S.C.; Memphis, Philadelphia, Birmingham, and Chicago.


Present members of the team are Lt. Cdr. Robert Clark, leader; Lt. Cdr. Dusty Rhodes, Lt. R. H. Thelen, Lt. Charles A. Knight and Lt. (jg) William C. May.