PANTHERS

The Blue Angels began their transition to jets during the 1949 air show season and accepted brand new Grumman F9F-2 Panthers in Bethpage during July. Although they continued to perform with the F8F-1 Bearcats the team became acquainted with the F9F-2 Panther between demonstrations at NAS Corpus Christi, Texas. The Blues performed their last demonstration with the Bearcat at Madison, Wisconsin on 14 August and just six days later flew their first public display with Panther at Beaumont, Texas.

Although 1950 was the first full season with the Panther the outbreak of hostilities in Korea in June caused the team to be ordered back to the operational fleet on 20 July. By that December the Blue Angels had formed the nucleus of the newly established ‘Satan Kittens’ of VF-191. The squadron’s F9F-2Bs flew combat missions over the Korean peninsula from the deck of the USS Princeton (CV 37) and while deployed suffered the loss of its skipper (and former Blue Angel leader) LCDR Johnny Magda who was killed in a mission over Korea.

During October 1951 the Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) directed that the Blue Angels should be reformed as a flight demonstration team. CDR Butch Voris was once again called upon to organize the team, which was officially reactivated on 25 October 1951. Once again based at Naval Air Station Corpus Christi, Texas, the team was equipped with the Grumman F9F-5 and flew its first display with that Panther variant in June 1952. The Panther remained assigned until December 1954, when another Grumman jet arrived.