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Joint Forces Journal

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VOL. 24 - NO. 35
SEP 22 - 29, 2019
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OAKLAND, CA 94661-0283

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Joint Forces Journal is published privately, and in no way is connected with DoD, the U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force or Coast Guard. This website and the printed newspaper are intended for the members of the Armed Forces and their families. Contents do not necessarily reflect official views of the U.S. Government, the Department of Defense or the U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force or Coast Guard, and do not imply endorsements thereof. The marital status, physical handicap, political affiliation, or any other non-merit factor of the purchases, user or patron for advertisers prohibited. If a violation or rejection of this equal opportunity policy by an advertiser is confirmed, the publisher shall refuse to print advertising from that source until the violation is corrected. Editorial content is prepared and edited privately, and is provided by the Public Affairs Office of U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard installations. Correspondence and material for publication should be addressed to: Editor, Joint Forces Journal, P.O. Box 13283, Oakland, CA, 94661-0283. Deadline for receiving articles and photos is 3 p.m. Monday for publication on Friday of that week. Joint Forces Journal editorial policy is to use bylines and photo credits where applicable and when submitted.

Blue Angels Jets Made Contact Midair During Tight Diamond 360 Maneuver

Aug 16, 2019
by Gina Harkins
The Navy's elite Blue Angels pilots broke out of formation Wednesday and landed immediately after two of their jets touched while practicing a maneuver that puts them in extremely close proximity.

Jets Nos. 1 and 3 made contact Wednesday while training at their home base at Naval Air Station Pensacola, Florida, said Lt. Michelle Tucker, a spokeswoman for Chief of Naval Air Training, the team's parent command.

They were practicing the Diamond 360 maneuver at the time in preparation for this weekend's Chicago Air and Water Show. In that maneuver, Blue Angels jet No. 1 leads a pack of four who fly closely in a diamond shape.

There were no injuries as a result of the incident, and an initial inspection of the F/A-18 Super Hornet jets found no damage to the aircraft other than a scratch, Tucker said.

"They fly very, very close together," she added. "No. 3 did make contact of the underside of No. 1's wing with his [glass cockpit] canopy."

Capt. Eric Doyle, the Blue Angels' commanding officer, flies jet No. 1. Jet No. 3 is flown by Lt. James Cox. Doyle has led the team for nearly two years, and Cox has flown with the Blue Angels for almost a year.

This incident, first reported by the Pensacola News Journal, led Doyle to call an immediate safety standdown. That's normal protocol after an event like the one on Wednesday, Tucker said, as the team assesses what happened, how it occurred, and what they can do to prevent future mishaps.

The pilots will still perform in the Chicago Air and Water Show as planned, but the F/A-18s involved in Wednesday's mishap will remain in Florida to be inspected. Doyle and Cox will fly alternate replacement jets.

The two are excellent pilots, Tucker stressed, and the incident shows the inherent danger behind the aerial acrobatic team's performances.

"We and Capt. Doyle are confident in the team's capabilities," she said. "[Doyle] made the decision to execute the performance in Chicago this week as scheduled."

The Chicago Air and Water Show will be the Blue Angels' 21st performance of the year, and they're scheduled to participate in eight more.

"The team trains diligently to operate in the safest possible manner," Tucker said, "and they select only the best naval aviators and support personnel to fill their ranks."

* * * * *

Photo caption: U.S. Navy flight demonstration squadron, the Blue Angels, diamond pilots practice the Diamond 360 maneuver during a practice demonstration at Naval Air Facility (NAF) El Centro, Calif., March 6, 2014. (U.S. Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Eric J. Rowley)


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