Those who pay attention to military aviation news reports know that last weekend at Lynchburg VA the Blue Angels had a problem during the Sunday show. The fallout was first a grounding of the team for a procedural review and safety stand-down. When things go wrong that is not uncommon. The role of aerial demonstration teams is strictly to demonstrate skill, performance, training and the ability to operate safely. Accidents occasionally happen, but they are blessedly rare as a result of very strict standards.
A few days later, the leader of the Blues announced voluntary resignation from the position although there was no description in his statement regarding what precisely was the issue.
Here is a video which shows what happened. The shows were done on Saturday and Sunday last weekend. The first half of the video is from the Saturday show. The second half is the Sunday show. Notice that the narration is exactly the same. The outcome, however, is different:
The minimum altitude for the recovery is 500 feet AGL. On Sunday you see the wingmen realize they have breached the minimum and breaking off of the formation. The slot man may or may not be aware of the altitude since his formation references are largely above his head and not level with the HUD display of altitude or sink rate. He maintains position and best estimates are that he bottoms out around 120 feet. Responsibility for that minimum altitude rests entirely with the formation leader.
Those who have been around for awhile will inevitably flash back to a Thunderbirds accident in 1982 during team transition at Thunderbird Lake north of Nellis. They were flying the T-38 at that time and the new leader, Maj. Norm Lowry, was a friend of mine from my days at Torrejon in the 401st TFW. Misjudging the altitude down the back side of a loop resulted in an accident in which all four aircraft in the diamond were lost.
We've come a long way since then.