Saturday, October 11, 2008

Fleet Week 2008 - Air Display

Thunderous and thrilling, the Blue Angels once again dominated the air display yesterday afternoon for Fleet Week.

They soared across the city and around the bay with spectacular skills that enthralled the crowd.

The bay front from Fisherman's Wharf to Crissy Field near the Golden Gate Bridge was carpeted with people.

Some were craning necks to catch as much of the action as possible, some were wrestling with cameras to get that superlative shot, while others were partying and picnicing beneath an intermittent canopy of roaring blue and yellow streaks.

Fleet Week is an annual opportunity for San Francisco to 'honor the men and women currently serving in the US and allied armed forces, particularly in the United States Navy, Marines and Coast Guard, and to learn about their character and skill, and the pride with which they carry out their duties,' said Edward M. Leonard, Chairman of the San Francisco Fleet Week Committee.

The air display, lasting three-and-a-half hours, has a wonderful variety of aircraft, but it is the US Navy display team, the Blue Angels, that captures the most attention.

From their entry in Delta Formation - four flying together and two solo pilots - when they swooped across the bay and up to the Golden Gate Bridge, all eyes and ears were on them.

Particularly awe-inspiring is their close-formation flying. There were moments when you looked up and could say 'Closer than a brother'! Or that they fitted 'hand to glove.' Yet another routine had them nose-to-tail like a streamer.

And this in powerful F-18 Hornets that can break the sound barrier with an airspeed of Mach 1.8 +.

On such a beautiful afternoon, and from the vantage point of Fort Mason, it was a fantastic sight to see them soar over and around the bridge.

The power was there, too, as they criss-crossed, hurtled headlong at each other and flipped their wings to pass, rolled and flew upside down, trailed plumes in patterns in the sky, on one routine the smoke cascading down like a fountain, and corkscrewed up and out of sight.

Not to be outdone, though, the affectionately named 'Fat Albert' heralded the Blue Angels appearance with a little tour of his own!

Fat Albert is the C-130 hercules transporter plane for the Blue Angels carrying their support and maintenance crew and equipment.

During the show season, Fat Albert flies over 140,000 miles and is the only Marine Corps aircraft permanently assigned to support a Navy squadron.

Tomorrow, they go through it all again! Formed in 1946, the Blue Angels have performed in front of more than 440 million people.

***The air display this morning is at the same time as today: 12.30 - 3 pm for other aircraft. 3 pm - 4 pm Blue Angels.

pics show the Blue Angels and crowds at North Beach

For albums of stunning pics by Chris, click here

For two albums of more stunning pics by Colin and Evelyn - Colin is the professional photographer I interviewed during the air display practice - click on the following:

Album 1 Album 2

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