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View Full Version : Air Force Thunderbirds s Navy Blue Angels



MarkLawrence
04-23-2005, 04:13 PM
I'm not trying to invoke lots of military branch infighting here, but wanted to offer and observation and see if others had comments. We had our local airshow (ShawFest) at Shw AFB, Sumter, SC today (KSSC). Apart from some great static displays I got to go inside (B1-B Lancer, C-17, etc), the main display was by the Air Force Thunderbirds. Having previously seen the Blue Angels at a couple of air shows in Missouri when I lived there, I was actually pretty disappointed with the Thunderbirds - and the main reason? When the Blue Angels fly, there is literally NO SPACE in between the F-18's (18" I think, but I might be wrong). The Thunderbirds, there were several FEET seperating the planes....we could see daylight in between them. As a personal opinion, give me the Blue Angels anyday!

Tom_Turner
04-23-2005, 06:18 PM
Mark I have to agree with you.

Being primarily a commercial aviation junkie, I had never given too much thought to The Blue Angels or Thunderbirds being especially better or worse than one another. Figured them to be about the same.

A couple of years ago though, I had the opportunity to see the Blue Angels three times in a single summer. Each show was different due to the cloud ceiling, and once due the neighboring county putting up a fuss about not wanting the show over their area... Despite the differences in the shows, they were all great.

Since then I have seen the Thunderbirds several times, and while they were certainly great to watch (no complaints here), there is liittle doubt in my opinion of which is better. I'll take the Blue Angels any day also, if I had the choice.

- Tom

cancidas
04-23-2005, 08:39 PM
i've only seen the navy blue angels so far. i got to fuel them too.. pic later on tonight. i didn't really like thier show that much. the canadian snowbirds were better, IMO.

USAF Pilot 07
04-25-2005, 12:19 AM
I think part of what you perceive to be several feet in between the AF T'birds compared to 18 inches between Blue Angels is perception. The 16's airframe is much different than the 18's, and therefore it can appear that the T'birds are several feet from each other, when in reality they are only between 18 and 24 inches.

The F-18 is also a longer "sleeker" airplane, with 2 engines, and when you get five F18's in formation, you get a much different "feeling" than when you get 5 F-16's in formation.

I grew up witnessing countless of Blue Angel shows and practices in Pensacola Florida (there is no feeling greater than playing golf down at A.C. Reed on Pensacola's NAS, and have a 5 ship of F-18's 100 feet over you!), and I've seen a few T-bird shows.

I agree with the consensus though, even being an AF dude myself, that the Blue Angels are just a much more "awesome" sight to witness than the Tbirds.

In any case, I'll take either one any day!

Tom_Turner
04-25-2005, 12:54 AM
You know I seem to remember the 1st time I saw the Thunderbirds they preformed over New York harbor..after that over Coney Island and then not over NYC proper at all.

I believe they were using larger (heavier?) jets at that time..maybe Phantoms?

They would fly in formation of course, and then the perception was as they turned they'd have to "drift" quite a ways before coming back around..not saying thats what was happening..not familiar enough with these types, but thats the way it seemed..

Matt - saw the Snowbirds at both Millville and then a couple of years ago at Dayton (joined at same show by Thunderbirds and Blue Angels..). Nice show, but more into graceful patterns with the extra jets as compared to the US Teams. They did however fly over the crowd more.

MarkLawrence
04-25-2005, 08:09 AM
I think part of what you perceive to be several feet in between the AF T'birds compared to 18 inches between Blue Angels is perception. The 16's airframe is much different than the 18's, and therefore it can appear that the T'birds are several feet from each other, when in reality they are only between 18 and 24 inches.

The F-18 is also a longer "sleeker" airplane, with 2 engines, and when you get five F18's in formation, you get a much different "feeling" than when you get 5 F-16's in formation.

I grew up witnessing countless of Blue Angel shows and practices in Pensacola Florida (there is no feeling greater than playing golf down at A.C. Reed on Pensacola's NAS, and have a 5 ship of F-18's 100 feet over you!), and I've seen a few T-bird shows.

I agree with the consensus though, even being an AF dude myself, that the Blue Angels are just a much more "awesome" sight to witness than the Tbirds.

In any case, I'll take either one any day!

Perception is such a big thing, and as you've described above, I understand that totally now! Thank you for a great description. I've looked at my pictures that I took over the weekend again, and compared them to some pictures that I had taken a couple of years ago at a Blue Angels demonstration, and what you've described is pretty much right! There is a little more separation, but, a great deal of the difference is perception!!

moose135
04-25-2005, 08:32 AM
Being an old Air Force guy, you know where my loyalties are :)
But here's an observation about both - back when I was growing up, I saw both teams (and the Snowbirds) on numerous occasions, and thought "Wow, that's amazing!"

Then I went through USAF pilot training, and flew formation in the T-38. Now I see those guys and say "But you can't do that in an airplane!" :shock:

cancidas
04-25-2005, 10:09 AM
http://nycaviation.com/pichost/me_fueling_blue_angels_ksns.jpg

can you tell which ones i prefer? haha!! can't wait 'till next year!

USAF Pilot 07
04-25-2005, 04:46 PM
Being an old Air Force guy, you know where my loyalties are :)
But here's an observation about both - back when I was growing up, I saw both teams (and the Snowbirds) on numerous occasions, and thought "Wow, that's amazing!"

Then I went through USAF pilot training, and flew formation in the T-38. Now I see those guys and say "But you can't do that in an airplane!" :shock:


Sorry for probing, just curious, but When/where did you go through UPT?

Also what airframe did you move to after the T38's?

moose135
04-25-2005, 05:40 PM
Sorry for probing, just curious, but When/where did you go through UPT?

Also what airframe did you move to after the T38's?

I went to Columbus AFB, MS - graduated in January 1985, part of Class 85-03 (I started in 85-02, but washed back a class due to an extended DNIF).

After UPT, I flew KC-135s out of Grissom AFB.

USAF Pilot 07
04-25-2005, 09:51 PM
I went to Columbus AFB, MS - graduated in January 1985, part of Class 85-03 (I started in 85-02, but washed back a class due to an extended DNIF).

After UPT, I flew KC-135s out of Grissom AFB.


Sweet deal...
One of my P.E. teachers here graduated UPT probably around that same time frame and was a career KC-135 pilot.

Anyway, thanks for the info!