As a team effort, the Blue Angels can’t be beat in terms formation precision. Maybe I gravitate to things that are new and shiny like a fish chasing a flashy lure I’ve been hooked. The F/A-18s are sure looking long in the tooth compared to the dynamic flight demo displayed by the F-22 Raptor.
Blue Angels debuted the F/A-18s in 1986 and I got my first show in 1994. I’ve seen them over a dozen times since then and they always deliver a good show, but when that F-22 takes to the sky I can’t help but stop in my tracks and marvel at its beauty, power, and agility while daydreaming about the future all Raptor flight team.
It’s low speed handling characteristics combined with the sleek, stealth design are only compounded in awesome with the pitch-axis thrust vectoring maneuverability. Its amazing to see an aircraft up close and personal that combines supercruise, maneuverability, stealth, and sensor fusion in a single platform. I especially enjoy when she opens up the weapons bay doors and we get a full frontal gander at the naughty bits.
The F-22 Raptor Demo Team is an American flight demonstration team stationed at the home of Air Combat Command at Langley AFB in Hampton, Virginia, VA. The team has flown the USAF’s Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor at airshows around the world since 2007, performing air maneuvers that demonstrate the super maneuverability of the F-22. These demonstrations include the power loop, split, and tail slide, as well as a high speed pass and dedication pass. These maneuvers are based on those designed for combat operations, but are performed at much lower altitudes than most pilots are certified to fly at.
The F-22 is also used extensively on Air Force heritage flights, where formations of multiple generation aircraft are flown to present the evolution of airpower in the U.S. Air Force. Certified civilian heritage flight pilots fly vintage warbirds in close formation with modern day high performance modern fighters. These performances serve as a living memorial to the men and women who have served in the USAF and help support recruiting and retention efforts.