I found the following picture on the Blue Angels Facebook page:

US Navy Blue Angels F/A-18 cockpit

What is the purpose of the lights over the pilot's panel? (The two on the top are green)

  • 5
    $\begingroup$ It looks like an angle of attack indicator. One for each wing, green amber and red. I guess it's so that you can see it easily in peripheral vision without looking in. I can't find any reference. We need @RhinoDriver $\endgroup$
    – Simon
    Dec 4, 2015 at 0:09
  • $\begingroup$ @Simon If I understood you correctly, the two green-shining lights at the top are AoA-Indicators for the left and the right wing. Correct? Then what do the four lights at the bottom do? $\endgroup$
    – jklingler
    Dec 4, 2015 at 9:04
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ <Guess>Two green lights, left wing AoA OK, right wing AoA OK. Two amber lights, left and right wing approaching stall or some critical angle. Two red lights, stalled.</Guess> $\endgroup$
    – Simon
    Dec 4, 2015 at 14:20
  • $\begingroup$ @Simon Unfortunately still doesn't answer for what the four lights at the bottom are used :/ $\endgroup$
    – jklingler
    Dec 4, 2015 at 14:27
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ I'm finding it a little weird why to give 6 mutually exclusive lights of "on[color]/off" when 2 of variable color would suffice. Especially in such obtrusive location limiting field of view. $\endgroup$
    – SF.
    Dec 7, 2015 at 10:36

2 Answers 2


I'm not absolutely sure but I think they are the indicators for the inverted fuel pump. From arcforums:

I finally spoke to a friend of mine who used to fly with the Blue Angels during the 2000/2001 show season. He said the lights on the glare shield were for the inverted pump indicator. The BA fly inverted longer than what is normally permitted for the Hornet so the Blue Angels aircraft are modified with a boost pump mounted to the top of the fuel tank. When they fly an inverted manuver for an extended period that pump is truned on, and while inverted fuel is pumped from the main tank to the feed tank. As fuel in the feed tanks is burned, the light would turns from green to yellow to red. When the light turns red it's time to roll back to a normal flight attitude.

So the three sets of lights should be for the tanks on both the wings.

I think this is the answer because the angle of attack indexers are found to the left of the HUD and look like this:

enter image description here

Also, it appears that they (aoa indexers) are found in carrier aircraft (for e.g. A-4 Skyhawk) as approaches are flown at a specified angle of attack rather than at particular airspeeds.

I believe that these lights are Blue angel specific mod as I'm not able to find them in any other versions.

  • $\begingroup$ I think you're right, and they may also include smoke monitoring. There's a simulation mod group that flies as Virtual Blue Angels in the LOMAC engine, and they've built a replica cockpit. There's no print; the lights are certainly not amber, but white, green, and red; there's a separate AoA gauge pasted to the left of the HUD; and they mention BA specific hacks like Inverted fuel system lights and Smoke lights; ARM and SMOKE is marked on the left set. $\endgroup$
    – egid
    Dec 8, 2015 at 5:07
  • $\begingroup$ @egid At first I thought the were for smoke monitoring. However, there is only one smoke generator (on the left nozzle if I remember correctly), so I discounted that. Also I think (again guessing) that the smoke indicator is on the left of glare shield. $\endgroup$
    – aeroalias
    Dec 8, 2015 at 8:27

Right side of the HUD: Top row of 2 lights on the right side is showing the inverted fuel system is armed. Below that are the failure lights for that system. To the right of that is when the inverted fuel pump system is active (for the Double Farvel).

Left side of the HUD: Left side is a smoke button that arms the smoke system. Then to the left is a smoke on indicator, and the far right is the inverted fuel pumps switch that turns that system on/off.

The lights have NOTHING to do with AOA.

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    – Pondlife
    Sep 26, 2018 at 0:31

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