Watch This Crazy Cool Video Of Blue Angel’s Low Transition Take Off At NAS El Centro

We're not sure who the photographer was, but this is a remarkable photo of a low pass to maximum performance take-off by Blue Angel #3 this week at NAF El Centro, California. (Photo: via unknown/Youtube)

Incredibly Low Blue Angels Practice Take-Off Video at NAF El Centro Surfaces.

A remarkable video that shows U.S. Navy Blue Angel #3 low transition to climb during what appears to be a maximum performance take-off at the team’s current training location at NAF El Centro surfaced on Saturday. The video, which was initially posted on FB then on one Instagram account, then disappeared, but reappeared on another account, was accompanied by some good quality still images.

In the video, there is the usual gathering of Blue Angel photographers and fans outside the fence at NAF El Centro as the aircraft passes low overhead, then pitches up at exactly the right moment to send a plume of dust from the road on the outside of the fence into the air. Photographers and fans are seen scurrying for cover from the dusting. As you can see, it’s pretty dramatic and must have been a memorable catch for the photographers there.

Here’s a version of the footage that has appeared on Youtube

This is another copy of the same video as the previous one was taken down. BTW, there are many others available online on FB groups, pages, personal accounts, YT, Instagram etc:

The video closely resembles a CGI scene from the trailer of the upcoming Hollywood sequel “Top Gun: Maverick” during which Pete “Maverick” Mitchell blows the roof off a building at the end of a runway while flying a fictional secret hypersonic spy plane. Indeed, it looks like the CGI spy plane scene from the “Top Gun: Maverick” trailer was inspired by the low transition take offs at El Centro.

Blue Angel #3’s remarkable low transition makes some of the CGI spy plane scenes and the real video of the F/A-18 in the California desert look believable! (Photos: via YouTube)

The U.S. Navy Flight Demonstration Team, the Blue Angels, use NAF El Centro in Imperial County, California as a winter practice facility each year and are there now in preparation for their upcoming 2020 display season. This is the last year the team will fly their current F/A-18 Hornets before transitioning to the new, larger, Super Hornets for next year.

The video and still photos show what is likely a practice of the “low transition take-off”, usually performed by one of the Blue Angel solo aircraft. Blue Angel #6 is frequently seen performing the maximum performance take-off in flight demos. In this video, it is Blue Angel #3, normally left wing in the diamond formation, performing the noteworthy takeoff. While there is no way of knowing for certain who is flying the #3 aircraft when this video was shot, the official Blue Angels’ website lists Blue Angel #3 as U.S. Marine Corps Maj. Frank Zastoupil of Kingwood, Texas. Maj. Zastoupil is also a former USMC F-35B Lightning II pilot.

About Tom Demerly
Tom Demerly is a feature writer, journalist, photographer and editorialist who has written articles that are published around the world on,, Outside magazine, Business Insider, We Are The Mighty, The Dearborn Press & Guide, National Interest, Russia’s government media outlet Sputnik, and many other publications. Demerly studied journalism at Henry Ford College in Dearborn, Michigan. Tom Demerly served in an intelligence gathering unit as a member of the U.S. Army and Michigan National Guard. His military experience includes being Honor Graduate from the U.S. Army Infantry School at Ft. Benning, Georgia (Cycle C-6-1) and as a Scout Observer in a reconnaissance unit, Company “F”, 425th INF (RANGER/AIRBORNE), Long Range Surveillance Unit (LRSU). Demerly is an experienced parachutist, holds advanced SCUBA certifications, has climbed the highest mountains on three continents and visited all seven continents and has flown several types of light aircraft.