Which is bigger, the Blue Angel or the Super Hornet?


Watching the Blue Angels soaring overhead is a treat at the best of times, but it is about to get even better. The demonstration squad has recently upgraded their aircraft from the ‘Legacy Hornet’ to the new and improved FA-18 Super Hornet. Want to know why the Blue Angels Super Hornet is king? Read on because you are about to find out.

It’s Bigger!

The FA-18 Super Hornet is around 25% larger than its predecessor. And bigger is certainly better! According to the former leader of the squadron, Captain Eric “Popeye” Doyle, the increased wingspans of the new Super Hornets will “blot out the sun”!

Just because it is bigger doesn’t mean that the displays you’ll see will be any slower! With a top speed of 1,190 mph and a huge jet engine belting out over 22,000lbs of thrust, it will be loud, fast, and exciting.

The Super Hornets General Electric F414 engine offers around 35% extra thrust over its predecessor, meaning plenty of speed and power.

The Blue Angels Super Hornet is Newer

It’s even better watching an airshow when the technology on display is cutting edge. The Blue Angels Super Hornet, also known as ‘the rhino’, is the latest, new and improved version of the FA-18 legacy jet. With new aircraft comes new challenges for the display team, but you can be there, joining in the excitement and watching them as they get to grips with their latest upgrade.

Historical Parallels

Some have drawn similarities between the latest upgrade to the Blue Angels fleet and the effects of similar upgrades in the past.

The 1960s and 1970s were considered a golden age in the development of fighter jet technology. In this period, the Blue Angels went through a similar process in acquiring the McDonnell-Douglas F4 phantom. Just as the F4 Phantom wowed crowds in this era, so too will the Super Hornet in the present day.

The F4 and Super Hornet have comparably sized wingspans, but the Super Hornet offers greater thrust and power. This means you’ll that when watching the Blue Angels perform, you’ll get the same sense of excitement that people enjoyed decades ago when viewing the latest upgrade to their fleet.

A Computer Controlled Fighter

There is some smart technology aboard the FA/18 Super Hornet.

You need to become familiar with the term “fly by wire”.

What Does This Mean?

While the airplane is still controlled by a human pilot, their skills are augmented by some super-smart technology. Namely computers. Fly by wire means that there is no mechanical connection between the stick and the flight controls. Instead, pilot inputs are fed into a computer that moves the control surfaces accordingly.

What does this mean?

The maneuvers performed by the Blue Angels will be even more precise and inch-perfect! Considering they will be traveling at speeds of up to 400mph, this is a real sight to behold!

Upgrades to The Fleet

When you watch the new Blue Angels Super Hornets in action, you will be witnessing quite a lot that is unique. While the Super Hornet is itself an upgrade, the models you’ll see in a Blue Angels display are modified even further.


For a start, the flight controls in the cockpit have been modified to provide even greater feedback to the pilots and allow them to make tiny precision control movements. The aircraft have also been upgraded with special fuel pumps, not seen on the standard military version. These pumps allow the aircraft to fly inverted for a longer period.

The Blue Angels Super Hornets have also been fitted with smoke tanks, allowing you to see them coming from a distance. This is a good thing, as you definitely won’t want to miss them!

Maximum Performance

Fly by wire has another key advantage that you won’t get with ‘conventional’ fighter jets.

The computers are programmed with some clever technology that will prevent pilots from pushing the aircraft past its limits.

Note we said ‘past’ its limits…

What fly-by-wire essentially allows is for pilots to push their aircraft to the maximum, which is just what you will want to see at an air show. Using the Blue Angels Super Hornet, you’ll be able to watch the pilots bring the aircraft to the ‘very edge of the envelope’.

Pilot Skill

The new airplane will bring challenges to the display team, and you’ll be witnessing their mastery of these challenges firsthand.

According to the current pilots, the Super Hornet does handle slightly differently than the previous version of the FA-18. As a result, they will be as excited as you to see the aircraft put through its paces in real-time.

A New Display

The introduction of the Blue Angels Super Hornet means that you’ll be observing displays that have never been seen before.

While the fly-by-wire controls are revolutionary in what they will allow the aircraft to achieve. They have also led the pilots to devise workarounds when the system limits them. There are certain maneuvers that, in normal flying, the computer would prohibit the pilot from performing. However, the team wants you to see the aircraft at its best, so they have specifically tailored their program to ensure that the display is still just as entertaining as before.

It’s a Working Fighter!

Don’t for one second think that the Super Hornet is all good looks. In its day job, it is one seriously mean aircraft. It has been used in active combat theatres worldwide to devasting effect, seeing action in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Why the Blue Angels Super Hornet is King

The Blue Angels Super Hornet is bigger, faster, and more technologically advanced than the F/A-18. When you are watching the Blue Angels perform, you are literally seeing cutting-edge military technology in action, flown by real fighter pilots.

If you like looking at military aircraft performing stunts and maneuvers, then you are going to love the Wings Over Camarillo air show. Our previous lineup has even included a F/A-18 tactical demo! There is plenty of military aircraft to see. Why not check out our schedule and see what else we have in store?

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