Gil Rud served as the last A-4 Skyhawk Flight Leader of the Blue Angels in 1986 and then led the team’s transition to the F/A-18 Hornet, where he served an additional two years as Boss.
The interesting video in this post features an interview with Gil Rud, the U.S. Naval Aviator who served as the last A-4 Skyhawk Flight Leader of the Blue Angels in 1986 and then led the team’s transition to the F/A-18 Hornet, where he served an additional two years as Boss.
According to the video description, Rud first joined the Navy in 1967 and received his Wings of Gold one year later, where he was initially assigned to the A-4 Skyhawks and deployed to the Mediterranean. Upon returning from his initial cruise, he transitioned to the A-7 Corsair II and deployed to Vietnam aboard the USS Oriskany in May of 1971.
Following his first combat deployment, Rud served as the Junior CAG LSO for the first cruise of the F-14A Tomcat and the first West Coast Cruise of the S-3A Viking. He would qualify to fly the F-14 prior to leaving for the cruise in order to do the job more effectively.
In April of 1975, he participated in Operation Frequent Wind, flying top cover for H-46 and CH-53 rescue helicopters during the evacuation of the embassy in Saigon.
Rud eventually became the XO/CO of VA-192, the World Famous Golden Dragons, where he finished as the Top Tailhooker in the Air Wing for the entire Westpac Cruise aboard the USS Ranger.
While serving as Head of Junior Officer Detailing in Arlington, Virginia, Rud applied for the position of Flight Leader and Commanding Officer of the Navy Flight Demonstration Squadron, the Blue Angels. Three months later he would be awarded the position.
Photo credit: U.S. Navy