In a spectacular sunset flight along the Florida panhandle on November 4, the U.S. Navy Flight Demonstration Squadron, better known as the Blue Angels, performed their final flight in their GE F404-powered F/A-18 C/D Hornets.

The Blue Angels have flown F/A-18s, known as “Legacy” Hornets, for 34 years, making the aircraft the longest-serving Blue Angels platform. The F404’s first full-rate production application, the lightweight, carrier-capable Hornet has had a remarkable run with the U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps, and allied forces abroad. Although the U.S. Navy retired its last Hornet from operational service in 2019, the U.S. Marine Corps continues to rely on the Hornet today.

The end of the Hornet’s run as the Blue Angels’ flight demonstration aircraft opens the door for the next generation—the GE F414-powered Boeing F/A-18 E/F Super Hornet, scheduled to begin Blue Angels service in April 2021.

The Super Hornet first deployed into combat operations aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN72) is July 2002 and remains the backbone of the U.S. Navy carrier-based fleet today. Offering 22,000 lbs. of thrust per engine, the GE F414 powers all Super Hornets globally, the EA-18G Growler electronic warfare aircraft (a Super Hornet variant), and several international fighter and experimental programs.

The Super Hornet will become the third Blue Angels aircraft operating with GE power. Prior to the the retiring Legacy Hornets, the Blue Angels operated the J79-powered F-4J Phantom II from 1969 to 1974. Nearly 17,000 J79 engines were produced in a two-decade-long production run, with many of them powering the legendary Phantom in combat operations across multiple decades.

“GE is honored to have powered nearly four decades of Blue Angels aircraft between the J79 and F404. The F414-powered Super Hornets folks see in action during Blue Angels shows next Spring will make for a spectacular show, and we’re excited to continue being the propulsion behind this special team,” said Scott Snyder, director of GE F404/F414 U.S. Navy programs.

You can find the new F414-powered Blue Angels Super Hornets in the sky at dozens of shows beginning in Spring 2021.