Friday, October 5, 2012

Blue Angels take the skies during Fleet Week

The Blue Angels, a group of military fighter jets, came to San Francisco this past week to perform all sorts of amazing stunts. Their engines were loud and caught the attention of city residents.

Each year, their visit — called Fleet Week — is a big event that extends outside San Francisco to the larger Bay Area. This year featured for the first time the Air Force F-22 Raptor, the newest fighter jet. Also new was the America’s Cup AC-45 Race in the Sunday program, according to Stephen Teatro, executive producer of The Air Show Network with Fleet Week.

Teatro became the founder of The Air Show Network after 20 years as a military pilot. He flew jets and helicopters at air shows throughout Canada and United States. In an interview, Teatro explained, "the biggest crowd-pleaser is the performance of the Navy Blue Angels.  The crowds slowly grow throughout the day and reach their peak just before the Blue Angel performance."

The Blue Angels are exciting and fun to watch, but the main reason they visit the city is to remind people of the work that the military does. As Teatro explains, "The real mission of Fleet Week is to bring the Bay Area first responders together with the visiting sailors and marines to train for the humanitarian relief mission and to prepare for disaster relief in the event of a Bay Area earthquake or tsunami." While members of the public see the Blue Angels and the air show, Teatro says, "behind the scenes, marines are being trained in urban search and rescue" as local doctors and nurses learn the capabilities of Navy field hospitals. This, says Teatro, "along with honoring the sacrifices made by the men and women serving, is the true mission of Fleet Week."

A crowd of Fleet Week fans watched the air show in the Presidio. Kaylie Milliken, a teacher in San Francisco, was impressed by what the Blue Angels could do. Teatro says, "the biggest feedback this year has been the positive comments on how the show Saturday had no gaps. One act was entering the stage at the same time the previous act was departing."

Next year's Fleet Week may use Navy Seal skydivers. The Blue Angels and the military are also "working hard to get an aircraft carrier in the event that we can fly show planes off right in the bay."

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