Usually David Hutchinson contributes great Alki-area photographs – this time, he sent shots from the east side of Boeing Field, where he captured the Blue Angels‘ post-show, pre-landing flyby (which we usually see from the Museum of Flight at the other side of Boeing Field) as shown above, and on the runway, as seen here:
(#6 is the one that, as we reported yesterday, came back a few minutes after takeoff, with a mechanical/operational problem requiring its pilot to switch to a backup plane.) As David pointed out in his e-mail to WSB, that view is as close as you can get to the planes on the runway. But if you want to see the pilots up close and personal, you have to be at the Museum of Flight’s far-south fence – right next to where the jets are headquartered during their Seattle visits – and even though you have to watch through a chain-link fence, it’s a front-row seat to the “walkdown.” Standing in front of Blue Angel #1, we caught the first part on video Saturday (listen very closely to hear the commands):
There’s one other element to the pageantry – watching the crew. A video clip of that, plus a few more Saturday photos, just ahead:
Looking at some other video we shot while observing from the fence, pre-takeoff, we realized there’s a whole lot of waiting … we spectators are watching the crew members seemingly in a holding pattern without being able to see the intricacies of what’s happening inside the cockpit as the pilots prepare to taxi toward the runway. But there are routines that are fun to watch, like the hand-signaling as systems are tested (watch the crew members further back, at left, as well as the one in the foreground; note this was just #1, same thing was repeated, synchronized, in front of the other five jets):
The family standing to our left was talking with their young daughter about something we have noted in recent years, the presence of women in the frontline crew. The Blue Angels have never had a female demonstration pilot; the Air Force Thunderbirds have had two – and in fact, after we originally published this post, Andrew Abernathy sent this photo of the one who’s flying with the Thunderbirds now, Maj. Samantha Weeks, seen during the recent McChord AFB airshow:
Back to the Blue Angels this weekend — here’s a closer look at the female crew member who was attending to Blue Angel #1 (we won’t try to match her identity with the online profiles; did that in ’06 and recently received a genial comment from a different BA female crew member noting we guessed wrong):
Here’s another woman, with her colleague after the jets landed, waiting to direct theirs back to its spot:
Just a few minutes after the Blue Angels landed, the pilots came out to the fence to sign autographs, right after a white-uniformed Navy man handed out the glossy souvenir brochures you see in the photo’s foreground:
They worked the fence west to east. We’re not much for autographs so we took our leave, turning around for one last snapshot of the fence crowd:
Here by the way is what it looks like pre-takeoff … we shot the same angle last year (holding our little camera over our head) but couldn’t resist again:
If you’re thinking about checking this out today, here are a few other notes:
-The maintenance crew didn’t appear till 1 pm, the pilots themselves till after 1:15; the I-90 bridge closure 12:45 pm-2:40 pm is a wide window just to cover all possibilities.
-Unless you’re arriving at the Museum of Flight extremely early (say, before 11 am), you’ll wind up parking in the Boeing overflow lot across the street to the west (don’t worry, it’s free).
-If you get hungry but you’re not going into the MoF, there’s a little stand on the south side of its lawn with hot dogs for $3 and chips for $1 (beverages too but we didn’t note the price).