Watching the Navy Blue Angels fly has to be one of the most incredible sites to witness. The skill level it takes to maneuver the aircrafts is undoubtedly high, but the pilots sure do make it look effortless.

Have you ever seen the fleet do their "sneak pass"? According to the Blue Angels, this involves them flying right under the speed of sound at 700 miles per hour and as low at 50 feet. Sounds intense, right?

For a number of residents of Naval Air Facility El Centro in California, they felt this intensity first hand. Back in January of 2021, one of the F/A-18 Super Hornets flew a little to close to a couple buildings leaving behind $180,000 in damages and around a dozen folks injured.

AVweb via YouTube
AVweb via YouTube

What exactly caused this damage? When the jets break through the sound barrier, a sonic wave is created that can physically be seen. This sonic wave shook the buildings enough to throw around debris including drywall and nails pulled out of framing.

Wondering what the "sneak pass" looks like? This is a video of the maneuver where you can hear the Blue Angels breaking through the sounds barrier.

Fortunately for the pilot, he was not fully to blame for the incident in California. According the a recent article, the investigation found that the jet itself was "one of the top contributing factors." The Navy commented saying,

From 1992 to 2020, the Blue Angels flew F/A-18 Hornets . But starting in the 2021 show season, the team started flying F/A-18 Super Hornets, which are larger and heavier than the older Hornets, but also have longer range and reduced maintenance demands...

The Seattle Times were told that this is the first known time an incident happened during the execution of the "sneak pass." But, its better to be safe than sorry.

So, if you have seen the Blue Angels do their "sneak pass" in the past, it will probably look a little different now. The Navy made some changes to the pass that will hopefully prevent any further incidents.

Dafydd Phillips via YouTube
Dafydd Phillips via YouTube

Regarding the changes, investigators said,

Based on the airflow signature remodeling...these revisions will provide substantial reduction in the probability of reoccurrence while best preserving the spirit of the maneuver.

No matter what changes are made, watching the Navy Blue Angels is an event everyone should experience at least once. They will be in Pensacola Beach, FL for the Pensacola Beach Air Show on July 9th which is where I first saw them fly.

You can also check out their full list of dates for 2022 on their website.

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