Who’s ready for a thrill, and a patriotic one at that? The Blue Angels Flight Demonstration is a highlight of the Naval Academy’s Commissioning Week festivities and this year, the Blue Angels return to Annapolis with a roar on Tuesday, May 24th & Wednesday, May 25th.
Flying up the Severn River. Image courtesy of Mike Iserman.
The Blue Angels action takes place 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 just might make the hair stand up 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.
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.
Each Blue Angel aircraft is capable of being returned to combat duty aboard an aircraft carrier within 72 hours, should the need arise. 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.
The Blue Angels return to Annapolis skies, on May 24th and 25th 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. And there are other vantage points to see these pilots perform at their best besides the water. Pedestrians line up across the bridge between Eastport & Annapolis or line up along City Dock. Another favorite is at hospital point on the grounds of the Naval Academy.
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 certain, 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
This year’s Flight Demonstration is at 2 pm on Wednesday, May 25th, weather permitting. You might catch an earlier glimpse of the Blue Angels during their flight rehearsal on Tuesday, May 24th around the same time. 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, be sure to stay out of the restricted areas and follow updates from the Annapolis Harbormaster, the Maryland Natural Resources Police, and the United States Coast Guard.