STORY AND PHOTOS By HAYMAN TAM
Over 1 million spectators flocked to San Francisco in October to enjoy the Fleet Week festivities and watch the airshow that is the highlight of the event (although the America’s Cup attendees may have a different opinion).
Anyone along San Francisco’s waterfront had a ringside seat for two jet teams and the many other performers flying over show center, marked by ships and buoys in the bay. Some folks chose to watch the show from Alcatraz Island, site of the infamous prison. The weather was wonderfully cooperative with clear blue skies and comfortable temperatures.
Unlike a traditional land-based airshow, there were no static displays and the performers staged out of nearby airports. The Blue Angels flew out of San Francisco International Airport, still executing their precision ground drills, but with very few spectators to observe.
The pilots flying in the airshow used the terrain and the historic sites to their advantage, like high-speed passes over the iconic bridges or Alcatraz.
Fleet Week shows the American taxpayer the strong and capable Navy that they pay for and gives them a chance to observe U.S. naval capabilities first hand. Since 1981, this has been an annual opportunity to honor the men and women of the armed forces, with a focus on the United States Navy, Marines and Coast Guard. Besides the airshow acts, many naval ships were open to the public during the week for tours.
This tradition started over a hundred years ago in May 1908, when 16 Navy battleships, their escort ships and 14,000 sailors entered San Francisco Bay. This fleet remained in San Francisco for two months before departing for the remainder of its 14-month cruise around the world.
Next year’s Fleet Week is slated for Oct. 11-14.
For more information: FleetWeek.us