YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections


April 25, 1991

The Navy Blue Angels perform 25 maneuvers in three basic formations--the four-plane diamond formation, the solo formation, and the familiar six plane delta formation. The Angels perform 120 practice shows before they make their first public appearance each year in March at the Naval Air Facility at El Centro, Calif.

FLEUR DE LIS: 1) This is the trademark of the Blue Angeles with all six planes in the delta formation coming from the left of the crowd at 200 feet. 2) They all split with the two solo planes exiting to the right of the crowd (solo planes do two rolls at 1,000 feet). 3) The remaining four planes regroup in a diamond at the top of a loop. (6,500 feet elevation) The planes are trailing smoke.

DIAMOND DIRTY LOOP: 1) The diamond formation comes in from the left of the crowd at 200 feet; 2) all four planes perform a giant, mile-high loop (5,500 feet elevation). It is called a "'dirty" loop because all four airplanes have their wheels and landing hooks down. 3) The planes complete the loop in front of the crowd and fly away to the right at 200 feet.

DIAMOND VERTICAL BREAK: A) The four-plane diamond formation flies toward the crowd at 300 feet at just over 400 miles per hour. B) At a predesignated point, the pilots pull back on the sticks and the aircraft shoot skyward at a 60-degree angle. C) They climb to 3,000 feet, breaking into a flare and heading back toward the earth. A similar maneuver is the diamond low break, in which the four planes dive, flare in front of the crowd and return at different altitudes to criss-cross.

FORTUS: 1) Two solo F/A-18s fly by the crowd at 150 feet. 2) One rolls upside down while the other is right-side up. Both have their wheels and hooks extended, and to the crowd the two jets appear to be one aircraft with a two sets of wheels, one on the bottom and one on the top.

TUCK AWAY CROSS: 1) Two solo jets fly toward the crowd at 200 feet; 2) they cross in a 270-degree roll when they are 1,500 feet in front of the stands. A minimum of 100 to 150 feet separate the planes. 3) After crossing, the planes go to the left and the right of the crowd and climb at a 50-degree angle while doing 3 1/2 rolls flying away upside down.


The Blue Angels perform one of three shows depending on weather conditions. All shows require a minimum visibility of 3 miles.

HIGH SHOW: A high show includes formation rolls and loops, and must have at least an 8,000--foot ceiling.

LOW SHOW: A low show includes formation rolls, but no loops, and requires a ceiling of 3,500 feet.

FLAT SHOW: A flat show consists of no formation rolls or loops. The ceiling must be at least a 1,000 feet.

Source: Blue Angels

Los Angeles Times Articles