Blue Angels Rehearse for Annual Fleet Week Performance

By Ilene Eng

OAKLAND, Calif.,—The Blue Angels are back for their annual aerobatic performance for Fleet Week this weekend. They held a rehearsal day before their annual performance.

The classic blue and yellow aircraft are practicing in Oakland Airport before their first show tomorrow.

One pilot, Lieutenant James Cox, is the left wingman in the diamond formation for most of their maneuvers. This is his first year flying with the team.

NTD Photo
This is Lieutenant James Cox’s first year rehearsing to fly with the Blue Angels. He says he flies the number 3 plane as left wingman at Oakland Airport on Oct. 10, 2019. (Ilene Eng/NTD)
NTD Photo
Blue Angels Lieutenant James Cox at Oakland Airport on Oct. 10, 2019. (Nancy Han/NTD)

“Growing up, I went to all the Blue Angels shows with my parents, and I had Blue Angels models hanging from my ceiling and it’s something I always had my eye on,” said Cox.

Their mission is to inspire a culture of excellence and service to the country through flight demonstration and community outreach—the latter, in his opinion, is the best job.

“We get to go out to schools and hospitals and different community organizations all over the cities that we visit, and get to talk about our mission as Blue Angels and get to inspire that culture of excellence to the youth and to all of America, which is extremely humbling and something that I’m very happy to be a part of,” said Cox.

Cox says invitations to apply are sent out every year, and those who have been flying for at least eight years can apply to fly with the Blue Angels. There is also no limit to how many times one can apply.

“Wearing this blue uniform, you know, there’s no difference between us and the 800,000 Navy and Marine corps service members that are out there currently doing our mission,”  said Cox. “We just have the ability right now to represent them and to try to instill that culture of excellence into the next generation of, hopefully, military servicemen and women.”

The Blue Angels have been around since 1946, and have been flying in the Bay Area for Fleet Week since 1981.

The team of six F-18 jets will switch to a more advanced aircraft, the Super Hornet, in 2021.

The Blue Angels will perform tomorrow, Saturday, and Sunday, during the Italian Heritage Parade, or Columbus Day Parade, in San Francisco.