Saturday, October 10, 2009

Angels Graceful Even As They Land

This week is San Francisco's curious tradition of Fleet Week, curious as the traditionally aggressively pacificistic city celebrates the military. In the past, with the busy seaport and two military bases, it was easier to understand, but the days of dominant naval power have gone by, so it becomes an anachronism that Bay Areans guiltily take pleasure in. This year, with the down economy, it became even harder to raise the funds, forcing fundraiser cruises and private donations to help fill the gap.

The highlight is the flight of the Blue Angels, who turn San Francisco's picturesque skyline and bridges into a canvas of jaw dropping precision aerobatics. For folks like me who work in the city during the week, the Thursday and Friday before the weekend shows are like sneak previews: twice a day on each, the Angels practice their runs, as the scream of their jet engines reverberate in the canyons of the downtown skyscrapers. While it makes conference calls a bit unsettling, it's something we all learn to love.

The local TV station, ABC7, had a bit of B roll footage they put online, showing the Blue Angels doing something I hadn't seen in all the years they have been coming to SF: the arrival of the Blue Angels, and their touchdown at SFO Airport. In the past, the Angels based themselves at the Naval Air Station at Alameda (which has since closed) or NASA's Moffett Field, so seeing the squadron arrive, in formation, and then land on the same runways I land on far too often, was oddly captivating. More interesting was the precision with which they break formation and land, one by one, then seemingly maintain their grace as they taxi, nearly in formation, to their staging area.

It was a stunning show of quiet power, precision, and grace that I had not seen, and if you'd like to see it for yourself, enjoy below the sight of the Navy's elite flyers making their 2009 arrival at one of the nation's busiest airports.

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