Saturday, October 16, 2010

San Francisco 2010 Fleet Week

Every year since 1981, San Francisco has hosted an event that is extraordinary to view in person....Fleet Week. The purpose of Fleet Week is to bring awareness to those that serve in the armed forces and more recently to demonstrate disaster preparedness. I am a San Francisco native and have never gone to this event. I have always avoided it as if it was the plague. I dislike large crowds and growing up in SF, I have learn to really dislike tourists. What a shame that I have allowed my prejudices and fears keep me away from such an exciting fun filled event.
This year one of my closets and oldest friends and fellow photographer Eliot invited me to go with him to finally witness what Fleet Week is all about. Even though I was without my big lens, it is still at Nikon waiting for parts from my accidental drop while in Sitka, I still wanted to attend and enjoy the show all that Fleet week has to offer.

We arrived a few hours before the Ship parade was suppose to enter the golden gate to try and find a good location to shoot and to set up our equipment before the crowds started to pour in. With the extra time we had available before the show, I decided to take a few candid shots of some of the people waiting for the show to begin and an assortment of boats out on the bay.

The first part of the show was the parade of war ships entering the Golden Gate and heading to the viewing piers where civilians will be able to have the rare chance to walk onto the ships for a self tour.

The SF Fire boat lead the parade with its water canons fully on.

Once the ships cleared center stage, the helicopter show began. Showing off their skills on how they rescue people stranded in the water.

First the Air Force showed a mock rescue using divers and helicopters to retrieve a victim stranded in the water.


Then came out the Coast Guard showing off their training skills.

Once the air show started, I fully understood why this event is so popular every year. Even though I did not have my big lens as explained earlier, my 70-200mm lens with a 2x extender did a fair job. I did not get the most tack sharp images but non the less, I still managed to get some images I was proud of.

The air show was a mix of small acrobatic planes, to a commercial jumbo jet to military fighters. All of them had reasons why they were exciting to watch.

Watching a 747-400 buzz the bay was a sight to behold. Nothing can really describe watching such a huge aircraft making maneuvers at such low altitudes while having a majestic SF Bay as a background. Of course, I am a little biased since I actually worked on this aircraft for 15 years while employed with UAL. It was a surreal and profound moment for me.

I imagine the pilots of the Fry's Electronics sponsored MiG-17's and L-39 feel damn proud of their achievements. They are the only civilian-owned aerobatic jet team in America and they are fantastic to watch.

Before the Blue Angels perform for the finale of the air show, a C-130T also known as Fat Albert that carries all the supplies for the Blue Angles and is the true work horse that allows the Blue Angele's to perform through out the country was able to strut its stuff first.

At last, I bring you the Blue Angels.

This may have been only my first Fleet Week experience but it will definitely not be my last. Next year I hope to visit the ships up close and personal and once again enjoy all the airshows. I also hope to go more than just the one day. I can't wait until next year ;-)

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