The National Naval Aviation Museum has granted The Museum of Flight the permanent loan of a McDonnell Douglas F/A-18C retired this year from the Blue Angels flight demonstration team. Distinguished as “Number 2” in the famous group of flyers, the big blue jet was trucked from Pensacola, Fla., to the Museum. The aircraft was partially disassembled for the trip and arrival at the museum in late August. The plane was immediately reassembled and rolled directly into its new pavilion within days.
The plane-Navy registration number 163106-joined the Blue Angels in early 2004 and served with the team until 2016. The plane will be delivered to the Museum as Blue Number 2.
This particular F/A-18 has a distinguished combat record. It was delivered to its first squadron, Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 87, in 1986. It was used in combat operations during Operation Desert Storm and Operation Southern Watch over Iraq and Operation Continue Hope in Somalia. The plane was also flown over Afghanistan after 9/11 and flew strikes over Iraq in 2003