A scandal among the ranks of the US Navy's flight demonstration team, the Blue Angels, has forced a significant overhaul in the squadron's command structure, which will filter down to the way it selects everything from the naval aviators that perform the precise demonstrations to the ground and support crew that keep the planes in the air.
The largest point of contention so far is the addition of an executive officer to the uniquely structured squadron. The Blues' have been wowing crowds since 1946, but this is the first time it's added an XO. While the new member of the team will be a naval aviator, the appointment to the squadron's number two won't come with a flying role.
"We're not going to add another plane or position to the flight demonstration," Vice Admiral David Buss, the Navy's top aviator told Navy Times last week. "The XO will oversee the day-to-day management and business of the command, and I think that will be very helpful in strengthening this command triad."
It's hoped, Buss said, that the addition of an XO will help foster "opportunities to update and strengthen" the Blues' on a day-to-day basis.
As for membership selection, the Blue Angels will still be able pick the next group of sailors and aviators to serve in the iconic squadron, but those picks will be looked at by outside sources, including the chief of naval air training and Navy Personnel Command. The process has also been overhauled in such a way that demographics and gender won't play a part in assignment to the squadron.
Membership is "really based on aviation skill, professional performance and community reputation," Buss told NT.
As for what prompted these sweeping changes, they stem from allegations by a former team member, back in April. It was claimed that the squadron's former CO, Captain Greg McWherter, as well as members of the team created a hostile work environment, complete with sexual harassment and vulgar behavior, according to NT.
Here's hoping that these changes can put the scandal behind what remains one of the Navy's most prestigious and visible units.