A 30-year-old Navy F/A-18 Hornet jet that’s been through combat duty as well as a dozen years with the Blue Angels is being packed up in Florida for ground delivery to Seattle’s Museum of Flight.
Museum spokesman Ted Huetter told GeekWire that the partially disassembled airplane will travel from the Blue Angels’ home base at Pensacola Naval Air Station by truck. “It is going to be making its way across the country this week,” he said today.
The Navy is phasing out the Hornets, and the Blue Angels’ fleet is expected to get an upgrade to the heavier F/A-18E and F/A-18F Super Hornets by as early as next year.
The Museum of Flight already has an older-generation Blue Angels Skyhawk on display in its recently opened Aviation Pavilion. The Hornet will be exhibited nearby, Huetter said. The timetable for putting the plane on show has not yet been set, but it’s likely to be in place well before the end of the year.
Like the Skyhawk, Seattle’s Hornet will be on loan from the National Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola.
The plane went into service for the Navy in 1986. Huetter said it was flown from aircraft carriers during Operation Desert Storm in 1991, which repelled invading Iraqi forces in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait; Operation Southern Watch, which enforced Iraqi no-fly zones in the aftermath of Desert Storm; and Operation Restore Hope in Somalia in 1992-1993.
The jet was converted for use in the Blue Angels’ aerobatic shows in 2004.
Reports about the F/A-18 Hornet jet’s transfer to the Museum of Flight started percolating a little more than a week ago, even as the Blue Angels were making their traditional appearance at Seattle’s Seafair festival.