Rare Opportunity to See Blue Angels F/A-18C Hornet Reassembly

After offloading from the ship, Blue Angels F/A-18C is ready for departure to Hawaii’s Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum. Pasha Hawaii

The Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum (PHAM) on Ford Island in Honolulu, Hawaii, is offering a very rare socially-distanced public opportunity on February 10 to 12, 2021 to watch the reassembly of their collection’s newly-acquired Blue Angels F/A-18C Hornet in PHAM’s Hangar 79. The airplane was demilitarized in San Diego, California, and shipped to Honolulu Harbor via Pasha Hawaii’s M/V Jean Anne, before being offloaded last week.

The museum’s Hornet has supported the Blue Angels team in a variety of slot positions throughout the years before ending its service as Blue Angel Number 4. The US Navy retired and demilitarized the F/A-18C Hornet at the end of 2020 and began using the F/A-18 E/F Super Hornet, which is 25 percent larger, for its famous precision flight demonstrations in 2021.

The purchase of general admission tickets allows close quarter, in-person viewing of the Blue Angel Number 4 as it is reassembled in historic Hangar 79. While the general public is allowed to drive onto PHAM grounds and watch the reassembly of the newly arrived Blue Angel Number 4 from a short distance away at no cost, a general admission wristband is required to enter Hangar 79. Adult tickets are $25, with children’s tickets for ages 4 to 12 priced at $12 and children three years of age and under free. Members of PHAM will also be admitted free to the reassembly viewing. Also, the viewing will not be live-streamed, but PAHM officials said they would be posting frequent photos to their Facebook, Instagram and Twitter accounts.

Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum’s Blue Angels #4 as it arrived inside Pasha Hawaii’s M/V Jean Anne. Pasha Hawaii

“The Blue Angels are larger than life and have left audiences thunderstruck for 75 years,” said Elissa Lines, executive director of PHAM. “We are honored to display this Blue Angel F/A-18C, a symbol of strength, discipline, and innovation, within the context of our historic site. It will be a source of inspiration, especially for youth who dream of flight.”

Lines added the blue and gold livery of a Blue Angel F-18 triggers excitement in people of all ages. “Positioned alongside aircraft that supported World War II victory in the Pacific and beyond, the F-18 takes a position of prominence in our museum display, presenting the continuum of aviation and technology advancement that followed WWII, and sharing history through the stories of the men and women who flew and serviced the aircraft,” she said.

The shipping company that brought Blue Angels Number 4 to Honolulu considered the airplane to be special cargo. “Transporting Blue Angel Number 4 on its final voyage to Honolulu was a privilege,” said George Pasha, IV, president and CEO of Pasha Hawaii. “The Blue Angels are one of our nation’s most revered symbols of our military’s greatness and commitment to service. Pasha Hawaii is proud to support the PHAM’s mission to share such an important icon with the general public.”

After being shipped across the Pacific, the F/A-18C’s wings are offloaded from a semi for reassembly at the museum. Courtesy Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum

Located on Historic Ford Island, PHAM is steeped in WWII history centered around the December 7, 1941, Japanese attack on the base. The museum presents a very long list of aircraft in their collection, with a few highlights including: North American Aviation F-86L Sabre, Boeing B-52E Stratofortress (cockpit), Douglas C-47 Skytrain/DC-3A, General Dynamics F-16A Fighting Falcon, Boeing B-17E Flying Fortress, Douglas A3D/NTA-3B Skywarrior, Boeing-Vertol CH-46E Sea Knight, Sikorsky CH-53 D Sea Stallion (Heavy Lift), Bell AH-1 Cobra, Lockheed T-33 T-Bird/Shooting Star, Lockheed F-104A Starfighter, Convair F-102A Delta Dagger, General Dynamics F-111C Aardvark, McDonnell Douglas F-15A Eagle, Grumman F-14D Tomcat, Grumman F4F-3 Wildcat, and a North American B-25B Mitchell bomber.

PHAM is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that depends on membership, volunteers, and donations for support. To join, volunteer or support, visit PearlHarborAviationMuseum.org. The museum is open five days a week, Wednesday through Sunday, from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm. Visitors to the museum must stay in the pod or bubble of people they are traveling with. Masks are required at all times. The Raytheon Pavilion, currently housing PAHM’s Above & Beyond exhibit, is closed, however, the Fighter Ace 360 Flight Simulators are open and meticulously sanitized between riders. Among new COVID-19 precautions in place are increased sanitation of high-touch spaces and office spaces, and both staff and volunteers are temperature-checked each day.

Dan Pimentel is an instrument-rated private pilot and former airplane owner who has been flying since 1996. As an aviation journalist and photographer, he has covered all aspects of the general and business aviation communities for a long list of major aviation magazines, newspapers and websites. He has never met a flying machine that he didn’t like, and has written about his love of aviation for years on his Airplanista blog. For 10 years until 2019, he hosted the popular ‘Oshbash’ social media meetup events at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh.

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