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Blue Angels bid farewell to F/A-18 Legacy Hornets as it transitions to bigger Super Hornet jets

Blue Angels bid farewell: Stunning images show US Navy flight demonstration squadron’s final goodbye to its F/A-18 Legacy Hornet fighter plane as it transitions to bigger Super Hornet jets

  • US Navy Blue Angels flew a farewell flight to retire its aging fleet of F/A-18A/B/C/D ‘Legacy’ Hornet jets 
  • Navy’s flight demonstration squadron flew in formation above the beaches of Florida Panhandle, Alabama 
  • To mark its 75th anniversary, Blue Angels will integrate 18 F/A-18E/F Super Hornet fighter planes next season 
  • Super Hornet planes, manufactured by Boeing, are bigger and can hold more fuel than the original Hornets

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The US Navy Blue Angels on Wednesday took their F/A-18A/B/C/D ‘Legacy’ Hornet fighter jets for a final farewell flight before the demonstration squad upgrades to a new, larger aircraft in the next few months.

The last Hornets flight took place on Wednesday above the coast of the Florida Panhandle and Alabama, according to the Navy.

The Blue Angels staged the flight over their squadron’s home base of Pensacola, Florida before retiring the jets in favor of the larger Super Hornets.

The US Navy Blue Angels, the flight demonstration squadron that has been doing air shows across America for more than 70 years, performed a final farewell flight to retire its aging fleet of F/A-18 A/B/C/D ‘Legacy’ Hornets over the Gulf Coast on Wednesday

The Blue Angels performed the flight over the coasts of the Florida Panhandle and Alabama on Wednesday

The Blue Angels performed the flight over the coasts of the Florida Panhandle and Alabama on Wednesday

Stunning photographs released by the US Navy show the planes flying in delta formation as the sun sets over the horizon

Stunning photographs released by the US Navy show the planes flying in delta formation as the sun sets over the horizon

The above image shows the view from the cockpit as the Blue Angels fly over the Gulf Coast on Wednesday

The above image shows the view from the cockpit as the Blue Angels fly over the Gulf Coast on Wednesday

The old models will be retired after 34 years of service, the Navy said.

The military released stunning photographs of the final 30-minute farewell flight, in which the Hornets are seen flying in delta formation against the stunning backdrop of the sun setting on the Gulf Coast.

‘We are incredibly honored to have the opportunity to salute those teams who have flown, maintained and supported this platform for over three decades of service,’ Blue Angels Commander Brian Kesselring said of the flight.

‘We deeply appreciate the expertise and operational knowledge Blue Angels past and present have brought to the team, and we look forward to enhancing our operations as we fully transition to flying the Super Hornet.’

The 30-minute farewell flight was flown over Pensacola, Florida, which is the home base of the squadron

The 30-minute farewell flight was flown over Pensacola, Florida, which is the home base of the squadron

The Blue Angels plans to integrate the new Super Hornet planes next year as part of its 75th anniversary season

The Blue Angels plans to integrate the new Super Hornet planes next year as part of its 75th anniversary season

The F/A-18 A/B/C/D 'Legacy' Hornets have been flown by the Blue Angels for more than 34 years

The F/A-18 A/B/C/D ‘Legacy’ Hornets have been flown by the Blue Angels for more than 34 years

‘We deeply appreciate the expertise and operational knowledge Blue Angels past and present have brought to the team, and we look forward to enhancing our operations as we fully transition to flying the Super Hornet,' Blue Angels Commander Brian Kesselring said

‘We deeply appreciate the expertise and operational knowledge Blue Angels past and present have brought to the team, and we look forward to enhancing our operations as we fully transition to flying the Super Hornet,’ Blue Angels Commander Brian Kesselring said 

The Blue Angels are seen above flying in formation over the beaches of the Florida Panhandle on Wednesday

The Blue Angels are seen above flying in formation over the beaches of the Florida Panhandle on Wednesday

Onlookers take photographs with their cell phones as they watch the Blue Angels in Pensacola, Florida, on Wednesday

Onlookers take photographs with their cell phones as they watch the Blue Angels in Pensacola, Florida, on Wednesday

The Blue Angels will spend the winter integrating 18 F/A-18E/F Super Hornet fighter planes that have been specially upgraded for the squadron’s missions, according to The Drive

These aircraft, which will be introduced as part of the 75th anniversary of the founding of the Blue Angels, are among the oldest in the military. They were previously placed in storage or used as planes to train pilots.

The Navy plans to splash a fresh coat of blue and gold paint on the aircraft as well as make other modifications that will allow the plane to be used for Blue Angels air shows.

The Legacy Hornet was chosen by the Blues as the main aircraft in 1986.

The aging fleet will be replaced by the Super Hornet, which has a fuselage that is 3ft longer enabling it to hold more fuel.

The Super Hornet also has more avionics and a wing span that is 25 per cent longer.

Each aircraft has an empty weight that is 7,000 pounds heavier and can carry a maximum weight of 15,000 pounds more than the original Hornet.

The aging fleet will be replaced by the F/A-18F Super Hornet (like the one seen in the above 2007 file photo), which has a fuselage that is 3ft longer enabling it to hold more fuel. The Super Hornet also has more avionics and a wing span that is 25 per cent longer

The aging fleet will be replaced by the F/A-18F Super Hornet (like the one seen in the above 2007 file photo), which has a fuselage that is 3ft longer enabling it to hold more fuel. The Super Hornet also has more avionics and a wing span that is 25 per cent longer

Earlier this year, the Navy announced that it would slash production of the Super Hornet so that it could instead focus on developing its next-generation carrier-based fighter program.

The Navy’s budget request for Fiscal Year 2021 includes two dozen Super Hornets – the military branch’s final order of the Boeing-manufactured plane.

Last year, Boeing won a $4billion, multiyear contract to build 78 Super Hornets through next fiscal year.

The F/A-18 E/F Super Hornet are the final variants of the original twin-engine F/A-18 attack aircraft that was built in the 1970s by defense contractor McDonnell Douglas.

McDonnell Douglas has since merged with Boeing. 

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