Navy grounds Blue Angels’ Fat Albert after deadly crash involving similar plane

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The Blue Angels’ Fat Albert prepares for a recent air show.

According to the Pensacola News Journal, the U.S. Navy grounded the Blue Angels’ Fat Albert KC-130T cargo plane while investigators research the reason for the deadly crash involving a similar cargo plane that killed 15 Marines and a Navy corpsman earlier this month in Mississippi.

“During the course of the ongoing Marine Corps KC-130T investigation, an airframe similar to Fat Albert, it was determined it may be prudent to allow time for the investigation to provide more information on possible causal factors prior to resuming flight,” said Lt. Joe Hontz, spokesman for the Pensacola-based Blue Angels, in a statement released July 27.

Hontz reported Fat Albert remained in Pensacola and did not travel to Oshkosh, Wisconsin, where the elite Navy and Marine aviators will perform Saturday and Sunday, according to the Journal.

“There is no timeframe for Fat Albert’s return,” he said.

Although NAF El Centro is the winter home of the U.S. Navy’s Blue Angels, Kristopher Haugh, Public Affairs officer at the El Centro naval base said he was not able to answer anything more about Fat Albert’s grounding other than what was reported in the paper. But he did explain, “Fat Albert did not fly this year at our air show, because the aircraft was undergoing a scheduled maintenance period and was not ready for our event.”

The 15 Marines and Navy corpsman died July 10 when a KC-130T that was taking them from Cherry Point Marine Corps Air Station in North Carolina to El Centro Naval Air Station in California crashed in rural Mississippi, according to reports.

Investigators are working to determine the cause of that crash.

Fat Albert, which is flown by members of the U.S. Marine Corps, is a popular feature of the Blue Angels air shows. The cargo aircraft performs high-performance maneuvers to show the plane’s maximum capabilities, according to the Blue Angels web page.

The Journal reported Fat Albert returned to the Blue Angels in June after being out of commission for repairs earlier in the show season. It underwent a series of repairs and got a new paint job at Tinker Air Force Base in Oklahoma and at Hill Air Force Base in Utah.