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Blue Angels History Milestones


Flying the delta formation, Blue Angel A-4 Skyhawks pictured in a steep climb. The "Scooter," as the A-4 was nicknamed, equipped the Navy Flight Demonstration Squadron from 1974 until 1986.

Flying the delta formation, Blue Angel A-4 Skyhawks pictured in a steep climb. The “Scooter,” as the A-4 was nicknamed, equipped the Navy Flight Demonstration Squadron from 1974 until 1986. Photo courtesy of National Naval Aviation Museum

By Hill Goodspeed, Historian and Collections Manager, National Naval Aviation Museum

Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, while serving as Chief of Naval Operations, formed the U.S. Navy Flight Demonstration Team as a means to expose the American public to naval aviation, which had come of age during World War II. This was deemed very important in an era in which the roles and missions of the armed forces were the subject of vigorous debate.

 The Blue Angels performed their first air show at Naval Air Station (NAS) Jacksonville, Florida, in June 1946, and their initial show season consisted of 31 demonstrations.

 The first flight leader was Lieutenant Commander Roy M. “Butch” Voris.

 First use of the name “Blue Angels” occurred at a show in Omaha, Nebraska, in July 1946. The name came from an advertisement in the New Yorker magazine for a nightclub called the “Blue Angel.” Previous to that, the name suggested for the team had been the Blue Lancers.

The F6F Hellcat, the same aircraft the first Blue Angels flew in combat during World War II, was the first aircraft flown by flight demonstration team formed on the orders of Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz in 1946.

The F6F Hellcat, the same aircraft the first Blue Angels flew in combat during World War II, was the first aircraft flown by flight demonstration team formed on the orders of Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz in 1946. Photo courtesy of National Naval Aviation Museum

 The first airplane flown by the Blue Angels was the F6F Hellcat, though for a time they also operated an SNJ Texan painted to look like a Japanese Zero. This was used in a dogfighting sequence which was appropriate given the recent memory of World War II.


The Blue Angels make a formation take off in their F8F Bearcats at the beginning of an air show, circa 1947.

The Blue Angels make a formation take off in their F8F Bearcats at the beginning of an air show, circa 1947. Photo courtesy of National Naval Aviation Museum

 The F8F Bearcat followed the F6F Hellcat and was the last propeller-driven aircraft operated by the Blue Angels.

 The first jet flown by the Blue Angels was the F9F Panther, to which they transitioned in 1949.

 Following the outbreak of the Korean War, the Blue Angels disbanded, their aircraft, pilots, and some support personnel becoming the nucleus of Fighter Squadron (VF) 191, nicknamed “Satan’s Kittens.” They flew combat missions from the carrier Princeton (CV 37) and during their combat deployment lost squadron skipper, Lieutenant Commander John Magda, who had been the Blue Angels’ flight leader. He was shot down and killed, later receiving the Navy Cross posthumously.

 The first Marine Corps aviator was assigned to the Blue Angels in 1954.

 The Blue Angels performed their first air show outside the United States in 1956 when they appeared in Canada. Subsequently, they have performed at sites around the world, including demonstrations in Europe and Asia. Notably, they flew in Russia and former Eastern Bloc nations in 1992.

A F-4 Phantom II makes a knife edge pass during a Blue Angel flight demonstration in the early 1970s.

A F-4 Phantom II makes a knife edge pass during a Blue Angel flight demonstration in the early 1970s. Photo courtesy of National Naval Aviation Museum

 The only time that the Blue Angels and U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds have flown the same type aircraft was when they operated the F-4 Phantom II.

 The Blue Angels have flown the F/A-18 Hornet since 1987, the longest serving demonstration aircraft in the flight demonstration team’s history. The longest-serving aircraft in general is the C-130 Hercules, popularly known as “Fat Albert,” which provided logistics support to the squadron.

A thrilling spectacle of any Blue Angel flight demonstration are the aerobatics of the two solo aircraft, which is on display in this image of two F11F Tigers. The Blues flew short-nose versions of the aircraft, like those pictured here, and long-nose versions of the Tiger from 1957 to 1968.

A thrilling spectacle of any Blue Angel flight demonstration are the aerobatics of the two solo aircraft, which is on display in this image of two F11F Tigers. The Blues flew short-nose versions of the aircraft, like those pictured here, and long-nose versions of the Tiger from 1957 to 1968. Photo courtesy of National Naval Aviation Museum

Then and Now

 The original Blues flew a three-plane air show compared to the six planes that fly today’s demonstrations, the original 17-minute show now lasting over 40 minutes. The original team had five pilots, one support officer, and eleven enlisted support personnel, while today, the squadron’s ranks consist of sixteen officers, including six demonstration pilots, and over 100 enlisted support personnel. The Hellcat weighed in at over 15,000 pounds fully loaded as compared to the 66,000-pound gross weight of the F/-A-18. The Hellcat, at top speed, reached 380 miles per hour at 23,400 feet, while the Hornet easily exceeds the speed of sound, over three times the F6F’s speed. Each Hellcat cost about $50,000 during World War II; the fleet Hornet comes in at over $25 million.

The National Naval Aviation Museum is located at 1750 Radford Blvd., Pensacola, Fla. For more information, please visit their website.


Beevor: Good Theory Quotes

This article from the Telegraph quickly turns into a fluff piece about popular historian Antony Beevor, but it contains some great quotes for students doing ‘importance of history’ essays. For example “I feel slightly uneasy at the way historians are consulted as if history is going to repeat itself… It never does. It is misleading and dangerous to make sweeping parallels with the Second World War.”

All Publicity is Good Publicity?

Randall Stephens

When you’re actually getting hate mail and watching conservative Christians rail against you on-line, it is . . . not fun.  But now looking back on how my co-authored book and a couple op-eds Karl Giberson and I wrote were received is sorta entertaining, in a bizarre way.

The Anointed: Evangelical Truth in a Secular Age (Harvard, 2011) dealt with the rise and popularity of conservative evangelical experts.  These figures have served as go-to thought leaders on human origins, psychology, end-times theology, history, and more. We looked at the parallel culture of evangelicalism that has helped certain views thrive. And still evangelicalism in modern America is anything but monolithic. We also focused on a collection of evangelical scholars and scientists who are engaged with the fields they represent and tend to have a presence in the academy.

Sure, we did get some very positive reviews in Christian Century, the Wilson Quarterly, Jesus Creed, the Nation, the New York Times, Inside Higher Ed, and Booklist.  Yet, those did not have that red-faced, veins bulging-out-of-the neck, barking jeremiad passion that the haters put out there. 

So, I thought it would be interesting to put together excerpts from the “best of the worst” coverage, criticisms of both our opinion pieces and the book. 

Caveat: I apologize for what might seem like gross self indulgence.  Bear with me here.  No one threw a brick through my window.  No one wired my bicycle with explosives or put a severed horse head in my bed.  I have a great life and I love that I get to write and teach about some very interesting, controversial subjects.  Besides, we knew going into this project that it would ruffle some of the saints angel feathers.  (It would be nearly impossible to write about evangelical pseudo-expertise without stirring some kind of reaction.)

I post the bits below as a kind of therapy and to air some of the vitriol. We all get bad reviews now and then.  And maybe, just maybe, all publicity is good publicity.  (I doubt that.)  If folks want to buy our book just to burn it, or to read it in agitation, scribbling angry notes in the margins, and spilling coffee on the pages before firing off an ALL CAPS email to me, that’s fine!

• Albert Mohler, “Total Capitulation: The Evangelical Surrender of Truth,” blog, October 25, 2011

Stephens and Giberson’s view “hardly represents an honest or respectful approach to dealing with the Bible’s comprehensive and consistent revelation concerning human sexuality in general and homosexuality in particular. . . . Evangelical Christians will either stand upon the authority and total truthfulness of the Bible, or we will inevitably capitulate to the secular worldview. Giberson and Stephens force us to see, and to acknowledge, the consequences of the evangelical surrender of truth.”

“Arrogance, Intellectual Elitism, Rejection of Scripture, Karl Giberson,” Reformed Nazarene blog, October 24, 2011

“Only God knows how many students have had their faith shaken or shipwrecked because of [Giberson's] unbiblical teachings.  Sadly, it seems Dr. Stephens has taken up his mantle at the school and will continue to propagate false notions of the Bible to our students there.  Since they co-wrote this attack on fundamental Bible believers, it goes without saying that they share the same basic contempt for us.  It is a piece brimming with intellectual snobbery, in my opinion.”

• Ken Ham, New York Times Review Fails to Recognize Poor Scholarship,” Answers in Genesis blog, January 8, 2012

“Well the New York Times today has published a book review of The Anointed.  But, because the book attacks people like me who have a high regard for Scriptural authority but supposedly lack any scholarship, I find it highly ironic that the review does not bother to point out the poor scholarship or mistakes in The Anointed. But as usual for such books that attack God’s Word, the Times’ review speaks of it in glowing terms.”  AiG’s main point–that we said “Dr. James Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family, is a young-earth creationist”–is not true.  In the chapter referred to (pg 19) we said that Dobson “enthusiastically promotes” young-earth creationism.  He did.  I saw it, and actually took pictures of some young earth creationist materials, at the Focus on the Family bookstore while I was out in God’s country doing research in 2008.  (It’s also Paul Harvey’s country. Not that those are mutually exclusive.)

This next one is my favorite, by far! Here Ken Ham tries to turn the fundamentalist thumbscrews on me.  What he doesn’t know is that I love thumbscrews.  A pressure point massage for the fingers I always say.

• Ken Ham, “What Does This Nazarene U. Professor Believe,” March 15, 2012

“After reading the article, I have come to many conclusions about what Stephens and his coauthor are stating. I hope every Nazarene understands what this Nazarene professor believes—and therefore we assume his beliefs are being transmitted to the students he teaches and influences:

- Biological evolution is fact.

- If you don’t believe in biological evolution, you are anti-knowledge, anti-intellectual, and anti-science.

- Secularists should be believed over the Bible.

- The Bible is not God-breathed.

- “Gay” marriage and homosexual behavior are natural and should not be spoken against.

- Anyone who believes in six literal days of creation and a young earth is anti-intellectual.

- Francis Schaeffer was not a scholar, and his biblical worldview was wrong.

- Absolute Christian morality based on the Bible is wrong.”

• Dennis Prager, “Are Evangelicals or University Professors More Irrational? This Jew prefers evangelicals’ values to those of left-wing intellectuals,” National Review, October 25, 2012

“With regard to man-made global warming, the charge that all skeptics are anti-science is despicable and indeed, anti-science. . . . With regard to those evangelicals — and for that matter those ultra-orthodox Jews — who believe that the earth is less than 10,000 years old and either that there were no dinosaurs or that they lived alongside human beings, my reaction has always been: So what? . . . If these professors typify the views of Eastern Nazarene College, which is officially listed as a Christian university, it is reason for despair. Once left-wing values enter the evangelical bloodstream, there is almost no hope for America.”

• Joe Carter, “A Different Type of Fundamentalist,” First Things blog, October 19, 2011

Giberson and Stephens “published an embarrassingly simple-minded op-ed in the New York Times . . . . The irony is that Giberson and Stephens are denouncing their fellow evangelicals when they themselves are as ‘anti-intellectual’ as Ham or Barton. But while the Hams and Bartons of the world may be merely annoying, the Gibersons and Stephens are completely insufferable.”

• And . . . finally, the epic last sentence of an email sent to me on October 25, 2011: “I sincerely hope that some day before you die you will have a change of heart back to the truth.”

Finishing a Good Work

Darren Grem and Tim Gloege 

We invite you to consider a request made by Sarah Morice Brubaker, friend of the late Sarah Hammond.  She is sending out an all-call to anyone who might be able or willing to contribute their skills or knowledge toward finishing Sarah’s book, God’s Business Men: Evangelical Entrepreneurs in Depression and War, which would have been published with University of Chicago Press.  It was under contract and in revision. 

If you’d like to help out, send e-mail to sarah.morice.brubaker@ptstulsa.edu. 

1837 — Slavery a Positive Good by John C. Calhoun

February 6, 1837

I do not belong, said Mr. C., to the school which holds that aggression is to be met by concession. Mine is the opposite creed, which teaches that encroachments must be met at the beginning, and that those who act on the opposite principle are prepared to become slaves. In this case, in particular. I hold concession or compromise to be fatal. If we concede an inch, concession would follow concession – compromise would follow compromise, until our ranks would be so broken that effectual resistance would be impossible. We must meet the enemy on the frontier, with a fixed determination of maintaining our position at every hazard. Consent to receive these insulting petitions, and the next demand will be that they be referred to a committee in order that they may be deliberated and acted upon. At the last session we were modestly asked to receive them, simply to lay them on the table, without any view to ulterior action…I then said, that the next step would be to refer the petition to a committee, and I already see indications that such is now the intention. If we yield, that will be followed by another, and we will thus proceed, step by step, to the final consummation of the object of these petitions. We are now told that the most effectual mode of arresting the progress of abolition is, to reason it down; and with this view it is urged that the petitions ought to be referred to a committee. That is the very ground which was taken at the last session in the other House, but instead of arresting its progress it has since advanced more rapidly than ever. The most unquestionable right may be rendered doubtful, if once admitted to be a subject of controversy, and that would be the case in the present instance. The subject is beyond the jurisdiction of Congress – they have no right to touch it in any shape or form, or to make it the subject of deliberation or discussion…

As widely as this incendiary spirit has spread, it has not yet infected this body, or the great mass of the intelligent and business portion of the North; but unless it be speedily stopped, it will spread and work upwards till it brings the two great sections of the Union into deadly conflict. This is not a new impression with me. Several years since, in a discussion with one of the Senators from Massachusetts (Mr. Webster), before this fell spirit had showed itself, I then predicted that the doctrine of the proclamation and the Force Bill – that this Government had a right, in the last resort, to determine the extent of its own powers, and enforce its decision at the point of the bayonet, which was so warmly maintained by that Senator, would at no distant day arouse the dormant spirit of abolitionism. I told him that the doctrine was tantamount to the assumption of unlimited power on the part of the Government, and that such would be the impression on the public mind in a large portion of the Union. The consequence would be inevitable. A large portion of the Northern States believed slavery to be a sin, and would consider it as an obligation of conscience to abolish it if they should feel themselves in any degree responsible for its continuance, and that this doctrine would necessarily lead to the belief of such responsibility. I then predicted that it would commence as it has with this fanatical portion of society, and that they would begin their operations on the ignorant, the weak, the young, and the thoughtless, – and gradually extend upwards till they would become strong enough to obtain political control, when he and others holding the highest stations in society, would, however reluctant, be compelled to yield to their doctrines, or be driven into obscurity. But four years have since elapsed, and all this is already in a course of regular fulfilment.

Standing at the point of time at which we have now arrived, it will not be more difficult to trace the course of future events now than it was then. They who imagine that the spirit now abroad in the North, will die away of itself without a shock or convulsion, have formed a very inadequate conception of its real character; it will continue to rise and spread, unless prompt and efficient measures to stay its progress be adopted. Already it has taken possession of the pulpit, of the schools, and, to a considerable extent, of the press; those great instruments by which the mind of the rising generation will be formed.

However sound the great body of the non-slaveholding States are at present, in the course of a few years they will be succeeded by those who will have been taught to hate the people and institutions of nearly one-half of this Union, with a hatred more deadly than one hostile nation ever entertained towards another. It is easy to see the end. By the necessary course of events, if left to themselves, we must become, finally, two people. It is impossible under the deadly hatred which must spring up between the two great nations, if the present causes are permitted to operate unchecked, that we should continue under the same political system. The conflicting elements would burst the Union asunder, powerful as are the links which hold it together. Abolition and the Union cannot coexist. As the friend of the Union I openly proclaim it, – and the sooner it is known the better. The former may now be controlled, but in a short time it will be beyond the power of man to arrest the course of events. We of the South will not, cannot, surrender our institutions. To maintain the existing relations between the two races, inhabiting that section of the Union, is indispensable to the peace and happiness of both. It cannot be subverted without drenching the country or the other of the races…But let me not be understood as admitting, even by implication, that the existing relations between the two races in the slaveholding States is an evil: – far otherwise; I hold it to be a good, as it has thus far proved itself to be to both, and will continue to prove so if not disturbed by the fell spirit of abolition. I appeal to facts. Never before has the black race of Central Africa, from the dawn of history to the present day, attained a condition so civilized and so improved, not only physically, but morally and intellectually.

In the meantime, the white or European race, has not degenerated. It has kept pace with its brethren in other sections of the Union where slavery does not exist. It is odious to make comparison; but I appeal to all sides whether the South is not equal in virtue, intelligence, patriotism, courage, disinterestedness, and all the high qualities which adorn our nature.

But I take higher ground. I hold that in the present state of civilization, where two races of different origin, and distinguished by color, and other physical differences, as well as intellectual, are brought together, the relation now existing in the slaveholding States between the two, is, instead of an evil, a good – a positive good. I feel myself called upon to speak freely upon the subject where the honor and interests of those I represent are involved. I hold then, that there never has yet existed a wealthy and civilized society in which one portion of the community did not, in point of fact, live on the labor of the other. Broad and general as is this assertion, it is fully borne out by history. This is not the proper occasion, but, if it were, it would not be difficult to trace the various devices by which the wealth of all civilized communities has been so unequally divided, and to show by what means so small a share has been allotted to those by whose labor it was produced, and so large a share given to the non-producing classes. The devices are almost innumerable, from the brute force and gross superstition of ancient times, to the subtle and artful fiscal contrivances of modern. I might well challenge a comparison between them and the more direct, simple, and patriarchal mode by which the labor of the African race is, among us, commanded by the European. I may say with truth, that in few countries so much is left to the share of the laborer, and so little exacted from him, or where there is more kind attention paid to him in sickness or infirmities of age. Compare his condition with the tenants of the poor houses in the more civilized portions of Europe – look at the sick, and the old and infirm slave, on one hand, in the midst of his family and friends, under the kind superintending care of his master and mistress, and compare it with the forlorn and wretched condition of the pauper in the poorhouse. But I will not dwell on this aspect of the question; I turn to the political; and here I fearlessly assert that the existing relation between the two races in the South, against which these blind fanatics are waging war, forms the most solid and durable foundation on which to rear free and stable political institutions. It is useless to disguise the fact. There is and always has been in an advanced stage of wealth and civilization, a conflict between labor and capital. The condition of society in the South exempts us from the disorders and dangers resulting from this conflict; and which explains why it is that the political condition of the slaveholding States has been so much more stable and quiet than that of the North…Surrounded as the slaveholding States are with such imminent perils, I rejoice to think that our means of defense are ample, if we shall prove to have the intelligence and spirit to see and apply them before it is too late. All we want is concert, to lay aside all party differences and unite with zeal and energy in repelling approaching dangers. Let there be concert of action, and we shall find ample means of security without resorting to secession or disunion. I speak with full knowledge and a thorough examination of the subject, and for one see my way clearly…I dare not hope that anything I can say will arouse the South to a due sense of danger; I fear it is beyond the power of mortal voice to awaken it in time from the fatal security into which it has fallen.

Good Summer Beach Reading – Recommendations for Revolutionary War Fans

Getting ready to go on our every-other-year beach vacation with my wife’s family. This is a family reunion of sorts, where all four of Jane’s sisters, plus their husbands and kids come to the Outer Banks for a mini-family reunion. Since I’m not a huge fan of going to the beach itself, it’s a great week to do some reading.

So, what will I be reading? Well, right now, I’ve got the following packed and ready to go…

Rora by James Byron Huggins

This book was published almost 10 years ago. It’s historical fiction, inspired by and closely following actual historical events. While it’s not about the American Revolution, nor is it set in American history, the themes of Rora resonate very well with liberty-loving people everywhere.

Rora follows the story of Joshua Gianavel, the military leader of the Waldensians, European Protestants who valiantly resisted the medieval Catholic Inquisition by force. It’s an exciting page-turner, full of incredible action. This will be the SECOND time I read it, and I read very few novels twice.

If you can’t find it at your library or a used bookstore, you can get it at Amazon very cheaply.

George Washington on Leadership by Richard Brookhiser

George Washington on Leadership came out a couple years ago. I’m a fan of all of Richard Brookhiser’s books, and this one looks quite promising. The only frustrating thing about it is that I had the idea to write a leadership book featuring George Washington as a model. But I never acted on it. :-( Brookhiser did. And it looks like a good one. I’ll be reading it this coming beach trip.

Other Recommended Books

In addition to the above, I’ll be taking a long a couple books that aren’t related to our topic, including a book on public speaking and another on writing fantasy novels. (Yes, I hope to do that someday).

However, a few other books I can recommend to you, if you haven’t yet taken your summer vacation are….

*Rise to Rebellion and The Glorious Cause by Jeff Shaara
*George Washington’s War by Robert Leckie
*To Try Men’s Souls by Newt Gingrich and William R. Forstchen

Happy Reading!

And I’ll be blogging some more when I get back!