The History of
By Ron Williamson NAS Jacksonville Historian
Everyone is familiar with the Blue Angels and their fighter aircraft. The team has been flying demonstrations for crowds since their first official public show June 15, 1946 for the dedication of Craig Field in Jacksonville. There are also probably a few people in the country today that are not familiar with the different demonstration aircraft the team has used for some 76 years now. But how many of those same folks are as familiar with the now C-130T called “Fat Albert”? And where did the name “Fat Albert” actually come from? Both LCDR “Butch” Voris, and later Team Leader LCDR “Dusty” Rhodes, had talked about having a support aircraft for the Blue Angels when they did their performances at locations away from their home base. In conversations with Voris he said that although the idea of a support aircraft would have been very useful in the beginning, NAS Jacksonville did not have a support aircraft to spare at the time he led the team. When the Naval Air Advanced Training Command at NAS Jacksonville transferred to NAS Corpus Christi in 1948, the Blue Angels team transferred with them. Once at Corpus Christi, and with Rhodes as team leader, he was finally able to secure an R4D-5 (C-47) “Skytrain” transport aircraft to provide full time support starting with the 1949 season. The Skytrain, already located at the station, was assigned to the Blue Angels and it carried the team’s maintenance personnel, spare parts and provided logistical support. In 1953 Corpus Christi provided a R5C-1 (C-46) “Commando” transport and crew for the Blue Angels logistical support to replace the Skytrain. The Blue Angels insignia was also added for the first time to this plane. Halfway through that season, the transport aircraft was replaced again by a Douglas R4D-8 (C-117D) “Super Skytrain.” This aircraft lasted until the Blue Angels relocated to NAS Pensacola in 1955. With that move, Pensacola gave the team a new transport aircraft, assigning them an R5D-4 “Skymaster”. The Skymaster was painted in the Blue Angels gold and blue paint scheme in 1959. Skymasters would then support the Blue Angels for the next 12 years. In January 1968, the Blue Angels again traded in their Skymaster support aircraft for a Lockheed C-121J “Super Constellation”. This aircraft was also flown in the Blue Angels gold and blue paint scheme. The “Connie”, as it was referred to, was retired on December 21, 1970 and eventually scrapped. The long line of different support aircraft would end once the Marine Corps C-130 “Hercules” joined the team in 1970, this has been their support aircraft of choice ever since. In 1970 when the Hercules joined the team, a popular Saturday morning cartoon show was Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids. The theme of the show contained the line “Hey, Hey, Hey! It’s Fat Albert!” One morning as the Marine crew walked out to the plane, one of the team members looked at the plane sitting on the ramp in NAS Pensacola and said “Hey, Hey, Hey! It’s Fat Albert!” The rest of the crew heard that and laughed, but low and behold, the name stuck! It has been used ever since with great affection.
14 NAS Jax Air Show 2022
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