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History Soars High as Blue Angels, Thunderbirds, Snowbirds Unite in Flight

America's Thunderbirds and Blue Angels join in flight with Canada's Snowbirds for the first time on Thursday. (Glenn Watson)

CLEVELAND, Ohio — America’s two military flight squadrons joined with Canada’s own military jet team to form a historic flight of unity on Thursday high above the United States and Canadian boarder.

Under a mostly blue sky, the Navy’s Blue Angels departed Cleveland on a northeast heading and joined up with the Air Force Thunderbirds and Royal Canadian Air Force Snowbirds over eastern Lake Erie. Each team took a turn as the lead flight team during the nearly thirty minute rendezvous.

“We met the U.S. Navy Blue Angels and the Canadian Snowbirds over our shared border near Lake Erie,” Thunderbirds spokesperson Maj. Ray Geoffroy said Thursday evening. “Not only is this a perfect example of strong inter-service friendships, it’s a testament to our international ties with our neighbors to the north.”

Snowbirds, Blue Angels, and Thunderbirds soar for the first time together Thursday. (Glenn Watson)

The combined 21 jets exchanged goodwill and some humorous banter as they flew in a vertial stack formation and took turns in the lead. “It was great getting the fam(ily) back together,” Maj. Geoffroy added. “We’ll have to do it again soon!”

The Blue Angels, which fly the F/A-18 Hornet, are in northern Ohio for this weekend’s Cleveland National Air Show, while the Thunderbirds and Snowbirds are in Toronto for the Canadian International Air Show. The T-Birds perform in the F-16 Fighting Falcon and the Snowbirds perform aboard the CT-114 Tutors.

Smoke-On! The Blue Angels and Thunderbirds streak acoss Lake Erie on Thursday. (Glenn Watson)

“151 years of friendship summed up in one photo — three military jet teams from two countries sharing the skies over one common border,” Snowbirds spokesperson LT Michèle Tremblay announced. “Today, the Snowbirds joined our friends, partners, allies — the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds and U.S. Navy Blue Angels — in a historic formation flight marking the first time all three North American jet teams have flown together.”

“Representing our respective militaries, this formation flight is even more poignant as we mark 60 years of NORAD and the bi-national agreement between Canada and the USA to protect North American skies,” LT Tremblay added.

A historic flight of unity above eastern Lake Erie on August 30. (Glenn Watson)

The pilots of the six blue and gold jets of America’s Navy were all grins following the flight. “Your Blue Angels met up with a few friends today,” Blue Angels spokesperson LT David Gardner said on Thursday. “We were honored to share the sky with the Air Force Thunderbirds and Canadian Snowbirds.”

In 2017, the Thunderbirds visited the Blue Angels home base in Pensacola, and later, the Blues visited the Thunderbirds home in Las Vegas.

(Charles A Atkeison reports on aerospace and technology. Follow his updates via social media @Military_Flight.)

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Charles Atkeison

Written by Charles Atkeison

Charles A Atkeison is a long time aerospace journalist having covered both military and civilian aviation, plus 30 space shuttle launches from Cape Canaveral. He has produced multimedia aerospace content for CNN, London's Sky News, radio, print, and the web for twenty years. From flying with his father at age 5 to soaring as a VIP recently with the Navy's Blue Angels and USAF Thunderbirds, Charles continues to enjoy all aspects of flight.

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