Monday, October 13, 2008

Fleet Week in San Francisco

Every October in San Francisco they celebrate the presence of this bay as a naval base, even though there isn't much evidence of the navy here now except for the Alameda Naval Air Station. We moved into this apartment exactly one year ago- by Fleet Week Time. The Friday that the mover pulled up and began unloading the Blue Angels raged overhead screaming out the sound of the jets. On Saturday and Sunday- while Don was patiently (well not always patiently) putting together our IKEA furniture we were serenaded by the roar of jets- Blue Angels- overhead. We intended to be front and center this year- and we were! But nonetheless, they do celebrate Fleet Week with a parade of naval ships and air shows. This year the parade of naval ships didn't make it here in time because of rough seas en route, but they did have the air show which featured a number of private aerobatic performances, a few military aircraft, the Snowbirds which are a precision group from Canada that flies CT-114 Tutor jets were used as pilot training aircraft in Canada ( and the Blue Angles, the Navy's precision group that flies F-18 Hornets.

The weather was spectacular, which is quite common in October here in San Francisco and the crowds came down to the Bay over which the airshow took place.

The Bay was full of boats, both large and small and the shore along the bay was full of people.

This next ship was Franklin Roosevelt's Presidential yacht which is used for private parties and cruises on the bay.

The first "show" we saw was some private acrobatic planes sponsored by Oracle, the local software company that sponsors all kinds of sailing and flying events. These were four different models of single engine propeller planes. We saw lots of loops, spins, dives, crosses and "hammer head stalls" as they did their show.

Here is a picture of the Oracle "star" who flew a bi-plane, one with an obviously big engine that could send it straight up in a vertical climb.

This next picture was taken just as he finished a spiraling vertical climb until he stalled out and then started to fall tail first for several hundred feet. I didn't think airplanes were supposed to do that.

Next we watched the Snowbirds from the Canadian Air Force. They did some nice precision flying with nine airplanes in close proximity, doing loops and spins and close fly by's. These jets are similar to the jets that Brandy first learned to fly when she was in the Air Force in Del Rio Texas. But I think the most excitement we had when Brandy was flying them was when she did her first solo and landed without crashing.

Next we watched some zooming around with spins, dives and swoops by an F-16

And then it was joined by an F-86 Sabre jet that was used in the Korean war.

And as we were climbing the cliffs up to our apartment I heard the sound of a loud helicopter. This is the Marine Corps's new MV-22 Osprey that can rotate the wing 90 degrees to hover and land like a helicopter, but also rotate forward and fly like an airplane. I took this picture from about 3 miles away, so sorry if it is a little blurry.

And finally the Blue Angles came in to do their show which lasted about 40 minutes. I'll just put in the pictures. You can imagine roar of the jets as these F-18's came screaming by us at low altitude. These guys made all the others look like beginners. Their formations were so close they looked like they were overlapping and as they went through their maneuvers and turns, it was almost like they were all connected together.

I caught this one as it was flying by low and was going so fast that most of the crowd didn't even see it nor realize it had gone by until the sound hit us. By then it was gone. That's Alcatraz in the background.

And finally, an airshow wouldn't be complete without a picture of the most acrobatic of things that fly around this bay.

Now I really enjoyed the Blue Angels- reminded me of my marching band days in high school with the formations (and Don added that they didn't even have to play a musical instrument- then noting of course that I never learned the music- and faked my way through most of the numbers- fortunately there were some in the band (Gay Madden of course!) that knew all the notes!). But the Blue Angels took my breathe away as they danced in the sky above.
But when we returned the next afternoon- after the crowds had gone- and the portable potties hauled away- as well as chairs, trash cans, vendors....- the Marina was again just the way I like it- quiet. And we sat on a bench and watched the pelicans dive (always with a crash landing) for fish- and harbor seals fish in the distance. Life had returned to normal.


Anonymous said...

its amazing how life has it's tendency to return to normal so quickly after big events.... but our memories of the event frequently remind us how grand it was.
are you catching my drift?
Love from Ohio,

Maxanna said...

Life does go on and we try to be normal, but we all know that it really isn't and won't be for quite some time. I still routinely think about calling her about something I think she will want to hear. We will go on, but it will take some time.

Maxanna said...

The above "maxanna said" comment was actually from UD

Beyond The Strip said...

Wonderful pics Don, I never would have guessed you were 3 miles away from that Osprey. I still think the single engine acrobatics are the best. -

Lucas said...

Cool pics of the planes but where are all the shots of the cute sailors in their uniforms???? ;)