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Air Force Thunderbirds, Navy Blue Angels debut ‘Super Delta’ formation

The Air Force Thunderbirds Navy Blue Angels debut an F-16 Fighting Falcon and F/A-18 Super Hornet flight formation known as the "Super Delta" during a joint training evolution over Naval Air Facility El Centro, Calif., on March 2, 2021.

CODY HENDRIX/U.S. NAVY

By RICHARD TRIBOU | Orlando Sentinel | Published: March 4, 2021

(Tribune News Service) — Maybe you could call them the Thunder Angels.

The Navy and Air Force got together to team up the Blue Angels and Thunderbirds performance teams that tour the country at air shows to practice a new formation called the “Super Delta.”

Images show six of the Thunderbirds’ signature F-16 Fighting Falcons flanking six of the Navy’s F/A-18 Super Hornets flying in formation over the Blue Angels’ C-130J Super Hercules on the tarmac at Naval Air Facility El Centro in California on March 2.

“The formation grew out of a series of joint training opportunities held in 2020 and 2021, and serves as a symbol of the teamwork, discipline, and skill of the men and women of our United States military forces deployed around the globe,” reads a statement from the Air Force.

The new formation will be a highlight of a full flight to broadcast nationwide during the National Memorial Day Parade: America Stands Tall, an event to honor “those who have served and sacrificed before us.”

The two teams were able to fly together several times last year as part of flyovers around the country to thank those on the front lines battling the coronavirus epidemic.

The Blue Angels’ home base is NAS Pensacola while the Thunderbirds’ home base is at Nellis AFB in Nevada.

While there are no plans for the two teams to appear together in the Sunshine State, the did practice together in early 2020 off Pensacola Beach ahead of their national tours amid the pandemic. This year, though, they are back to business with seven air shows between the two in Florida planned.

The Thunderbirds have made one appearance in Florida already with their flyover during the Daytona 500 in February. They will return for the Cocoa Beach Air Show on April 17-18.

The Blue Angels will headline six air shows across the Sunshine State next year. They start April 10-11 at NAS Jacksonville for the NAS JAX Air Show followed by an April 17-18 appearance at the Sun N’ Fun Expo in Lakeland. In May, they will appear at the Fort Lauderdale Air Show on May 8-9 followed by the Great Florida Air Show on May 15-16 in Melbourne. After that, they will make their annual summer stop on July 10 at the Pensacola Beach Air Show and then end up their season like they always do with the NAS Pensacola Homecoming Air Show on Nov. 5-6.

The Blue Angels’ complete schedule can be found at blueangels.navy.mil/show. The Thunderbirds schedule is listed at afthunderbirds.com/site/show-season.

Admission to shows vary, with events at military installations traditionally free. Beachside shows like the Cocoa Beach Air Show allow for free viewing for anyone on the beach, but offer VIP viewing opportunities for a cost.

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The Air Force Air Demonstration Squadron "Thunderbirds" and the Navy Flight Demonstration Squadron Blue Angels debut the Super Delta formation consisting of six F-16 Fighting Falcons and six F/A-18 Super Hornets over a C-130J Super Hercules at Naval Air Facility El Centro, Calif., on March 2, 2021.
ANDREW D. SARVER/U.S. AIR FORCE