The United States Navy (USN) Precision Flight Demonstration Squadron. Otherwise known as The Blue Angels, began flying performances in the Douglas A-4F Skyhawk in 1975. Compared to the McDonnell Douglas F-4J Phantom II aircraft they had flown for the previous four years, the diminutive Skyhawk was a more maneuverable and economical aircraft but lacked the raw power of the Phantom II. There are those who say the Phantoms were hands-down the best airshow performers the Blue Angels ever flew. Others swear by the Skyhawk. In the film “Portrait: The Blue Angels” uploaded to YouTube by PeriscopeFilm, you’ll see just how impressive the Blues were while flying Heinemann’s Hot Rod.
Along with the equipment change the Blues underwent a reorganization which established a commanding officer / flight leader billet and added supplemental support officers. The squadron’s core mission was “redefined” to emphasize support of recruiting, but nobody who ever saw a Blue Angels performance doubted the effectiveness of the Blues in that regard. Though they went from flying the Mach 2.2 Phantom II to the subsonic Scooter, the Blues still entertained and yes, inspired. They have been doing both since their first performance in 1946.