Just like all F/A-18s, the F/A-18B Hornet on display outside of the James S. McDonnell Planetarium was manufactured here in St. Louis at McDonnell-Douglas, now Boeing Defense, Space and Security. F/A-18s were developed in the 1970's in response to the U.S. military’s requirements for a lightweight fighter jet. The F/A-18B is a dual-seater, twin engine, mid-wing, multi-mission tactical aircraft.

The Hornet on display was manufactured and delivered to the U.S. Navy in August of 1983. The B model designates it as a training aircraft. This particular aircraft was used for aerial demonstrations by the U.S. Navy’s Flight Demonstration Squadron—the Blue Angels. The jet is a permanent loan from the National Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola, Florida. You can view this remarkable aircraft at the Science Center thanks to the generous support of Innoventor and The Boeing Company.

Fun Facts:

  • The F/A stands for Fighter/Attack
  • The top speed for the F/A-18 clocks in around Mach 1.8, or just over 1300 miles per hour
  • The aircraft is 56 feet long, 40 feet 5 inches wide and 15 feet 4 inches tall
  • It can fly above an altitude of 50,000 feet
  • The F/A-18 can fly three times more hours without failure than other naval tactical aircraft, requiring half the maintenance time