Blue Angel 7 makes a rare appearance in New Orleans [Update: More trouble on Sunday]

In only their second show of the season, the US Navy Blue Angels were forced to make some changes on the first day of the 2022 New Orleans Air Show. No official word has been given as to why the swap was needed but speculation abounds because not one but two planes remained grounded for today’s performance.

Updated Sunday 3/20/2022 at bottom

The crowd was at a fever pitch for the headlining performers of the day. The narrator of the performance, Lieutenant Griffin Stangel, was going through the show as planned. The C-130J on the team, known as Fat Albert, had just wrapped up its warm-up performance and the rest of the pilots were boarding their aircraft. As the narration continued over music from the loudspeakers, it became increasingly drowned out by the ignition of the GE F-414 engines, until it wasn’t. The roar of the engines died down as crew members approached Blue Angels 1 and 2.

Blue Angels 1 and 2 sit idle as the rest take to the skies. Photo by Daryl Sausse

The narration paused but the music continued as more crew members and support vehicles approached the row of aircraft. At first, the assumption was that Blue Angel 2 was the affected craft. As pilots were going through flight checks, the canopies on all of the other aircraft were closed. After some time and consultation with crews on the ground, it seems that Flight Leader Captain Brian Kesselring exited Blue Angel 1 as well, leaving both planes unoccupied.

By this point, about 10 minutes had passed. The group of crew and pilots that had gathered began to disperse. A car could be seen racing to the staging area for the other planes performing in the show. As the narration picked up again describing the diamond formation, Blue Angel 7 taxied out to join the rest of the diamond formation which would be a delta formation for this performance.

Blue Angel 7, presumably with Flight Leader Capt. Brian Kesselring. Photo by Daryl Sausse

As a testament to their professionalism, the show went on flawlessly. Lieutenant Stangel changed what he needed to as if it was written that way. Captain Kesselring led his team as if that’s the show they practiced for all along. The crowd may have seen a somewhat different show than expected but it was no less disappointing. Fans left satisfied with smiles on their faces and maybe a little ringing in their ears for those who decided to forego hearing protection (Author’s note: I’m one of those people.)

Sunday’s performance will probably go on as originally planned. The professionals of the Blue Angels are sure to have their teams and planes at peak performance once again for their second show in New Orleans. Performances start at 10 am with the Blue Angels starting NET 2:45. Also make sure to follow our photographer Daryl Sausse on Twitter and Instagram to see all of the great sights from the 2022 New Orleans Airshow. A gallery of pictures from the first day is below.

Update: More bad luck was in store for the Blue Angels on Sunday’s performance but not as bad as Saturday.

What started out as a normal performance (without Fat Albert, though) soon changed into the same performance as Saturday. About 10 minutes into the show, Blue Angel 3 was suddenly absent from the diamond formation. The crowd first noticed when Lieutenant Stangel’s narration suddenly changed to saying three planes instead of four.

Blue Angel 3 could be seen loitering to the east of the airfield. It tried to sneak in a landing about 3/4’s of the way through the show when the other five were flying together in formation.

Blue Angel 3 lands early during a Sunday performance in New Orleans. Photo by Daryl Sausse

After the show, the Blue Angels public affairs officer was overheard mentioning that all of the issues with the planes this weekend were all mechanical related. The teams will try to attempt to fix all of the gremlins that have been coming up before next weekend’s show at MacDill AFB for the Tampa Bay AirFest in Florida.

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