DULLES, Va. — A U.S. Navy Legacy Hornet, recently retired by the Blue Angels, was delivered on Wednesday to the Smithsonian’s Air and Space Museum in Virginia.
The F/A-18C Hornet wore the blue and gold of the Blue Angels for five years beginning in 2015. As the squadron begins flying with the upgraded Super Hornets, the smaller Legacy Hornets have been retired.
Former Blue Angels solo pilot Cmdr. Frank “Walleye” Weisser flew the aircraft in for a landing at Dulles International Airport. Weisser taxied the aircraft up to a hanger, folded the wings, and shutdown the twin engines for a final time.
The Smithsonian’s first Hornet will be housed in the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center’s Modern Military Aviation exhibition. The museum notes she will reside near historic Naval aircraft including the F6F-3K Hellcat and F-14D Tomcat.
“It is incredible this aircraft has the opportunity to live a second life on display at the Smithsonian for generations to come,” Blue Angels maintenance officer Lt. Brian Abe said. “In preparation for display, the Blue Angels maintenance team will continue to work with the museum and other Navy entities to ensure the aircraft is safe for public viewing.”
Naval jet maintainers will travel to Dulles in the coming weeks to safe the aircraft for public display. The removal of jet fuel and engine oil are a few of the tasks planned.
Built in 1987, this F/A-18C Hornet, number 163439, served in the first Gulf War and later patrolled a no-fly zone across southern Iraq. The museum notes the aircraft was stationed around the globe in eight different squadrons.
More recently, the aircraft served as Blue Angel 1 flown by the squadron’s Boss. In 2019 and 2020, Cmdr. Brian C. Kesselring piloted the Hornet during practices, air shows, and Operation America Strong.
“The museum’s collection of this important aircraft will allow us to tell stories of the Navy’s Flight Demonstration Team, as well as its time in combat,” Naval aviation curator Lauarence Burke added. “We look forward to sharing this plane with our visitors at the Udvar-Hazy Center.”
(Charles A Atkeison reports on aerospace and technology. Follow his updates via social media @Military_Flight.)