Those are the Seafair-provided Corvette convertibles that Blue Angels pilots and entourage use to get around while they’re in Seattle each summer, leaving downtown – with police escort – Saturday morning. The video is from former Blue Angels pilot Len Anderson, who traveled to Seattle with the team on Thursday and has been sharing behind-the-scenes photos, video and observations via his Twitter account (@lead_solo) all along the way (here’s a link to his photo of the pilots in the parking garage, pre-Corvettes, and a photo of the SPD motorcycles awaiting them). But you don’t have to be an ex-pilot to get “behind the scenes” to some degree; that’s the feeling we always get when watching the Blue Angels’ arrivals, takeoffs and landings at the Museum of Flight, including the crew preps before the pilots show up:
To get any closer, you’d practically have to be flying yourself, which might provide a view like this one that David Hutchinson shared, after taking photos from Ruby Chow Park on the north end of Boeing Field:
For the timeline of this year’s Boeing Field/Museum of Flight viewing (from our experience so far), and more photos, read on:
We watched the takeoff from the south end of Boeing Field on Thursday, and a lot north of the control tower Friday, so yesterday was our first visit this year to “the fence” south of the Museum of Flight:
Noon was later than we’d planned to arrive, but there was still a bit of space; many prefer to explore the museum itself (where special Blue Angels activities are offered during the visit) and then join the fence fray, crowding in for a glimpse. The biggest question along the fence is always “when will they be here? when will it start?” so we made notes of yesterday’s times; the takeoff/landing was roughly the same as Friday, so you can probably expect the same today. The maintenance crew arrived about 12:50 pm to give the jets a once-over and to check out the pilots’ geari in the cockpit; the pilots themselves rolled up (though not in the Corvettes) at 1:10, with the “walkdown” moments later:
The pilots walk in synchronization, each one pivoting at his jet, to return his crew chief’s salute and climb up the ladder into the cockpit. Each of those crew chiefs in turn climbs up the ladder to consult with the pilot; when the lead gives a signal, they all climb down, stow the ladders, and then, with a distinctive motorized whine, the cockpits close; the engines fire up; the maintenance crew members run through elaborate hand signals showing visual confirmation that various flaps are working; then after they all run to the east side of the parking area, when a vertical tail flap rises and falls on #1, they start to taxi, each turning east at the fence and waving back to the crowd:
Most spectators then dash over to the Museum of Flight’s lawn/parking lot to join those waiting there for the takeoff, with a good view of the runway:
The jets pause there, after taxiing – 1 through 4 together, 5 and 6 further behind:
At about 1:30, they take off, and while the show is taking place largely out of view, over Lake Washington, behind a ridge to the east, you can see the high-flying teamwork, like this:
And there are flybys, including the final one just for Museum of Flight/Boeing Field spectators, before they turn to land, just before 2:15:
Just before the Angels go up, by the way, their support C-130, Fat Albert, takes off to survey the lake and demonstrate some of its moves, ending with its own Boeing Field flyby and then a memorable landing, diving near-vertically to the runway (from 1,200 feet, according to this seattlepi.com report on a civilian ridealong). All in all, it’s quite a show, and a different experience from simply being at or near the lake and seeing the official performance. The pilots often sign autographs after landing, so many wait on the fence to see if that will happen; some are just there to applaud them, close-up, after the show – something you can’t do from anywhere else, at least not that they will see and hear, though they must know their audience rings the area, from David Hutchinson’s viewpoint north of Boeing Field …
… to JayDee‘s viewpoint in the 4th Avenue Costco parking lot:
… and way beyond (via Twitter, @westseattlemama reported a great flyby at Westcrest Park in eastern West Seattle). So again, while the I-90 bridge closure is scheduled again today 12:45-2:40 pm, you can expect the show itself – caveat, always subject to change! – 1:30-2:15.
Our archive of Blue Angels coverage, dating back to WSB’s first summer in 2006, is here.
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