LOUISVILLE, Ky. — When driving down I-65 South, out of the corner of your eye, you may catch a glimpse of blue and yellow.
A single Blue Angel F/A-18 Hornet is parked at one of the private hangars of Louisville Muhammad Ali International airport. Employees from the hangar said it’s been there ”about a week” but were unsure why it’s there.
The Blue Angels are the US Navy’s air demonstration squadron. The 6 jet and C-130 team performs about an hour long show of close passes, formation flying, and sheer speed maneuvers for their fans in an effort to showcase the skills of the pilots in the Navy. The team hopes their shows inspire the next generation of Naval pilots.
The jet in Louisville has the number 7 on the tail. The 7 jet is not part of the actual air performance, but like every part of the Blue Angel team, has a very important skill set that benefits the overall mission. It is unique and different from the other jets that fly in the air show for several reasons, but two really important and distinguishing reasons are its size and versatility.
First, the number 7 jet is a two seat aircraft. The two seat jets are used in transportation of team members, and also for the pre-show flights of non team members. For most shows, the Blue Angels will fly a media member, and two community influencers, so they can experience what it’s like to be a Blue Angel pilot.
The second reason these jets are unique is their ability to serve as a replacement to any of the other jets in the air show if there are mechanical issues. The number 7 can easily be removed from the tail and swapped out for another decal so the show can go on as planned.