Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Fleet Week

After returning our RV in Vegas and spending one last afternoon surfing the "outlet mall", we were lucky enough to jump on a jet to spend five days in San Francisco, a place I had never been before and had been keen to visit for years.

Now, our holiday had been organised with military precision for the most part. 

A small west African country's military that is, so we arrived just in time for THE busiest weekend of the year. 
 They were hosting a whole heap of events this particular weekend. There were people everywhere and after spending the previous two weeks in national parks and rural areas it was a bit in-your-face for me. The city itself felt a lot like Wellington, New Zealand with it's hilly, bayside location. Well, a Wellington on the juice. I liked it. A lot.

One of these attractions was Fleet Week. I had heard of it and seen footage of what is probably the best military aerobatic team in the world, the Blue Angels. Flying at 50ft across the bay, amongst the boats and towing a shockwave as in nudges up against the sound barrier

Like this......(turn your sound waay up for the full effect)......

No matter how anti-airshow, anti navy, anti war, anti whatever you are, you cannot fail to be secretly impressed by the sheer power of these machines when they shake you to your core as they blast past.

So, we had the double pleasure of checking out the Fisherman's Wharf with a couple hundred thousand of our best buds while an airshow took place overhead, in front of us and sometime almost below us!

Starting it off on the Saturday was the B2 bomber. We were looking in a souvenir shop as this thing did it's first pass. It wasn't low. It wasn't loud. In fact you could have heard a pin drop as the street went silent. This stealth bomber, whose lineage goes back to flying wings in the 50's, looked like something from outer space. Certainly, everyone else thought the same as the only sound was hushed voices saying "OMG"!

It was eerie and just didn't look real.

A few displays later was this formation. A WWII vintage P-51 flanked by an F-16 and an F-22 in perfect formation. You could hear the throaty growl of that Merlin over the (throttled waaay back) roar of the jets.

The F-22 later put on a display, doing things that an aeroplane just should NOT be able to do. It simply defied the laws of aerodynamics. Very impressive.

The Patriots. Spontaneous clapping and cheering broke out as these guys flew serenely by streaming Red, White and Blue smoke. It wouldn't happen at home and made me think of all the South Park and Simpsons parodies that I have seen over the years. Don't get me wrong though, I think us Aussies are just as patriotic. We just don't openly cheer about it.

United Airlines had a VERY large presence. 

A very low fly-by indeed.

The Blue Angels support Hercules got in on the action as well.

We just so happened to be out on the water at 3pm. Just in time to be right under the main performers.

Oh yeah, we were in amongst the other performers. The America's Cup racing was under way at the same time, on the same bit of water. Talk about a busy day on the Bay!

How low do you wanna go? (spot the F-18)

The F-18 with the smallest frontal area was coming straight down at us and looked very impressive during it's pull out.

Probably the best free airshow you will ever see all set against the beautiful backdrop of San Francisco bay. The only down side to the day was trying to get out of the wharf precinct. There were people everywhere and it was only topped by the following day (Sunday) when we hired bikes and rode across the Golden Gate Bridge, then caught the ferry back from Sausalito and tried to ride against the flow of the crowd back to the bike hire shop. Yes, the airshows ran from Thursday to Sunday. Interesting experience with two kids and a non-cyclist wife in tow!

So, San Francisco? Another place that I will return to for further exploration. Just at a quieter time of year.



  1. You lucky sod!

    I will get to the States one day and when I do I want to try to plan in a visit to a decent airshow...or the Reno races...

    1. Yep, Reno or Oshkosh would be my two preferred events.
      We actually saw the Thunderbirds fly over quite low in formation while we were walking Bryce Canyon in Utah the week before. Lucky I guess?

  2. Wow what a fantastic weekend. Those F-18's are fantastic to watch and to hear the noise they make.

    1. Yeah, they are awesome to see at such close quarters.

  3. Great pictures.

    Wow did you hit SF at a busy time. We caught the Blue Angels in Seattle in August, didn't realize they were having a mini-airshow with flyovers when we booked the trip.

    They sure are a sight to behold, but damn they attract a lot of people.

    1. Yes,after a few weeks in the "bush" as we call it, we just thought it was a typical busy city. That was until local after local we spoke to said "man, you picked the busiest weekend of the year to be here". Oh well, it made it interesting.
      It was refreshing though on Monday morning when the sidewalks were almost empty and we didn't have to barge our way through.


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