Who's ready for a thrill, and a patriotic one at that? The Blue Angels Flight Demonstration highlights the Naval Academy's Commissioning Week festivities. This year, the Blue Angels return to Annapolis skies with a roar on Tuesday, May 23rd & Wednesday, May 24th.
Flying up the Severn River. Image courtesy of Mike Iserman.
The Blue Angels action occurs in the skies above the Severn River each year as thousands of spectators gather to view the show from the shoreline or, if you're lucky, from a boat anchored on the river. This powerful demonstration of America's strength might make the hair stand on the back of your neck.
Some say the best way to view the show is by boat. Hundreds of private vessels anchor in the Severn River to view the sheer power of these spectacular flying machines. No boat? No problem; private charters, sailing tours, and boat cruises also provide opportunities for their guests to see the awe-inspiring twists and turns from the water. For the more adventurous, join a flotilla of kayakers and paddleboarders with Capital SUP or Annapolis Canoe and Kayak.
The Blue Angels fly past St. Anne's Church and the Maryland State House—image courtesy of Mike Iserman.
In Perfect Formation
How do they make these breathtaking moves? Practice! The pilots fly in perfect formation, showcasing the flight capabilities of the F/A-18 Hornet, and in fact, these maneuvers are not tricks at all. Their show-stopping moves are requirements of basic flight skills modified to highlight the precision required of Navy and Marine Corps combat pilots.
Any aircraft in the flight demonstration team is the same as one in the active combat fleet, with a few modifications. The nose cannon is removed, a smoke-oil tank is installed, and a spring is installed on the stick, which allows for better formation and inverted flying. Should the need arise, each Blue Angel aircraft can be returned to combat duty aboard an aircraft carrier within 72 hours.
The Blue Angels return to Annapolis skies on May 23rd and 24th for Commissioning Week. Image courtesy of Mike Iserman.
To behold the spectacle of the Blue Angels Air Show along the shores of a historic town is magical. Pedestrians line up across the bridge between Eastport & Annapolis or along City Dock. Another favorite is at hospital point on the grounds of the Naval Academy. But be prepared to bring your government-issued passport, ID, or state-issued driver's license to enter the US. Naval Academy via Gate 1.
As the demonstration ends and the Blue Angels fly off into the southwestern sky, the crowds salute them with a raucous farewell and a concert of boat horns. No matter the view, as strangers stand side by side and boats rock in the waves of the Chesapeake Bay, one thing is sure, savoring the jubilant cacophony and the patriotic thrill the Blue Angels represent will not soon be forgotten.
The Blue Angels fly in tight formation—image courtesy of Visit Annapolis.
What to Know
You might catch an earlier glimpse of the Blue Angels during their flight rehearsal on Tuesday, May 23rd, around the same time. This year's Flight Demonstration is at 2 pm on Wednesday, May 24th, weather permitting. And on Friday, May 26th, graduation day, the Blue Angels will do a flyover at 10 am above the graduation and commissioning ceremony at the Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium.
If you're heading out by boat to see the Blue Angels, stay out of the restricted areas and follow updates from the Annapolis Harbormaster, the Maryland Natural Resources Police, and the United States Coast Guard. Visit the City of Annapolis Guide for boat closure and restrictions.