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Sat, Apr 01, 2023

Blue Angels and Thunderbirds to Switch Aircraft for AirVenture 2023

Covet Not Thy Neighbor’s Fighter Jet

Special 04.01.23 Parody Edition: EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2023 attendees will be party to an historic and unprecedented undertaking alternately characterized by its proponents and critics as “brilliant” and “suicidally moronic” respectively.

Stated plainly, the U.S. Navy’s Blue Angels and U.S. Air Force’s Thunderbirds flight demonstration squadrons will swap aircraft. For purpose of saving readers the inconvenience of disbelievingly rereading the antecedent sentence, Aero-News Network repeats: the U.S. Navy’s Blue Angels and U.S. Air Force’s Thunderbirds flight demonstration squadrons will swap aircraft.

The notion—allegedly birthed in an Arlington, Virginia bar and suckled on whiskey-sours and hubris—is ascribed jointly to USAF Chief of Staff General Charles Q. Brown Jr. and Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Michael Gilday, who retired to the establishment for drinks following a 23 March 2023 meeting of the Joint Chiefs. During subject meeting, Pentagon brass faced off with Republican lawmakers over proposed cuts to funding for “woke” programs such as so-called diversity training.

According to the bar’s patrons and staff, Brown and Gilday, over several rounds, grew increasingly animated until the former exclaimed aloud: “We’ll show those Congressional bastards we know what we’re doing! We’ll show ‘em good!”

A frenzied discussion reportedly ensued, during which Brown and Gilday hatched a plan to order the two services’ public faces, the Blue Angels and Thunderbirds, to perform their respective AirVenture routines in each other’s aircraft. A cell-phone video of the conversation subsequently posted to social media showed Brown and Gilday toasting their conception.

Raising his glass, General Brown declared: “To the infallible soundness of U.S. military leadership!”

Hoisting his libation in solidarity, Admiral Gilday asserted: “To demonstrating with force and finality the supremacy of martial command over antiquated civilian notions of common sense!”

The business of training F-16 pilots to fly F-18s—and vice versa—is a complex and time-consuming one. The Thunderbirds’ F-16 Fighting Falcons are fast, light, agile, single-engine ships with sidestick primary flight-controls. Conversely, the Blue Angels’ F/A-18 Super Hornets are heavier, slower, twin-engine ships with conventional center-stick controls. That the pilots assigned to the Navy and Air Force teams are skilled is certain. That they’re capable of mastering aircraft wholly different from those to which they’re accustomed and executing complex, highly-technical maneuvers therein is anything but.

Blue Angels command officer and lead pilot Commander Alexander P. Armatas stated: “Intending no insult, probably it’s going to be tougher for the Air Force guys to make the adjustment to flying the twin-engine Super Hornet than it will be for us to figure out the single-engine F-16.”

Blue Angel #2 Lieutenant Commander Chris Kapuschansky remarked: “We’re not going into combat, so we needn’t worry overmuch about the airplanes’ respective weapons systems. That’ll keep things simpler. Truth be told, I’m looking forward to flying the F-16. It’s going to be like borrowing a buddy’s Lotus Exige and tear-assing around town with his fuel credit-card.”

Thunderbirds Commander and lead pilot Lieutenant Colonel Justin Elliot was less generous and likely more honest in his comments, stating: “I’ve seen some wild ideas in this man’s Air Force, but this is far-and-away the most, uh, questionable. Then again... we do what we're ordered to do... and we will do it well... at least, that's the plan.”

Thunderbirds lead solo pilot Major Daniel Katz set forth: “The Super Hornet is a neat ship. I imagine it’s going to be a bit of a handful compared to the F-16. I just hope we don’t have to aerially refuel the things. I’ve grown accustomed to the Air Force’s full-service tankers. The Navy way—poking a probe into a basket—sounds like something drunken college kids might get up to on a Saturday night.”

The two flight demonstration teams—arguably the world’s most famous and popular—are slated to begin training for the great AirVenture 2023 experiment on or about 01 May. It remains to be seen whether the Blue Angels pilots report to Nevada’s Nellis Air Force Base, home of the 57th Wing to which the Thunderbirds are assigned, or the Thunderbirds pilots report to Florida’s Naval Air Station Pensacola, the Blue Angels' roost.

Speaking to the subject of the Blue Angels-Thunderbirds aircraft trade, EAA CEO Jack Pelton stated: “I know it’ll pack the showgrounds. As for how good an idea it is, I suppose we’ll know after the first performance.”

Asked how the EAA plans to market the event, Mr. Pelton replied: "We’re kicking around a few ideas for the marquee. I like Blue Thunder, or Thunder-Blues, or some variation thereof. Jim Busha, who’s in charge of marketing, membership, and retail, favors Bluebird. Karen Kryzaniak, who heads up risk management and human resources, requested a leave of absence starting one-week before AirVenture and ending one-week after.



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