Chances are that if you’re interested in aviation in some way or another, especially military aviation, you’ve more than likely wanted to fly with the Blue Angels. Without a doubt the best in the world, they pull off some incredible stunt flying with their F/A-18 Legacy Hornets, flown by a combination of US Navy and US Marine Corps naval aviators selected from the fleet for a two-to-three year tour of duty. The video below takes you into the cockpit of a Blue Angels Hornet during a demonstration routine and gives you an incredible perspective on just how close the jets get to each other during said routine. According to the official Blue Angels website, the closest the aircraft get to each other is a separation space of around 18 inches during the Diamond 360 maneuver.
Just in case you’re wondering why the passenger (blue helmet) in the video sometimes seems to strain vigorously during a few turns and twists, it’s not because he’s constipated or about to rage. Since neither he nor the pilots fly with G-suits to counteract the effects of gravitational forces on their bodies during the really tasking moves that they put their Hornets through, all involved need to make use of the Anti-G Straining Maneuver (AGSM), also known as the “Hick Maneuver” from the sound that results if it’s done right. If executed properly the pilot/passenger prevents a massive outflow of blood from the brain, which would otherwise cause a G-force induced Loss of Consciousness (G-LOC), which is essentially a black-out. The reason for avoiding wearing a G-suit is that it minimizes interference with the control column. G-suits typically have bladders that inflate/deflate with bleed air that’s ducted and cooled from the engines, keeping the blood flow distributed normally during high-G moves. The F/A-18 has its control column square in-between the pilot’s knees, and during tight formation flying, having something impeding the movement of the stick could very well spell out disaster in the air. So it’s just best to avoid the suit altogether.