Seafair weekend: Blue Angels go up for ‘practice’ show

ORIGINAL 1:59 PM REPORT: Clouds don’t keep the Blue Angels down, assuming the ceiling isn’t too low – so the Navy’s aerial-demonstration team is up right now over Lake Washington (and points beyond) for its “practice show,” before the “real” ones tomorrow and Sunday. As is usually the case, we’re at Boeing Field to watch the takeoff/landing, and whatever’s visible inbetween (more than you might suspect). Our current location south of the Boeing Field tower on the west side of BFI is close to where the jets lift off after taxiing away from the Museum of Flight further south, and while 1-4 took off in formation northbound, 5 and 6 peeled away almost immediately, and that’s how our iPhone – lens poked through opening in the chain-link, barb-wire-topped fence – caught the shot you see above. Reminder that the I-90 bridge is closed until they’re done, 2:45 or so. More later! 2:17 PM UPDATE: The Blue Angels have landed. For our fellow timeline fans, they were up approximately 1:33 pm-2:12 pm. (Other air-show acts are resuming their practices – like the gray fighter jet that just took off.)

ADDED 5:28 PM: One of the not-so-celebrated-but-memorable aspects of Blue Angels-watching involves their support plane, the C-130 known as “Fat Albert.” It goes up to scope things out before the six jets practice/perform; then it usually thrills the Boeing Field/Museum of Flight crowd with flybys and an extra-steep landing. Then, if you watch by the runway, you see “Fat Albert” taxi back with a crew member poking her/his head out of a top hatch, waving a flag. Today, look who was seen from the hatch:

Thanks to David DeSiga for the photo. ADDED EARLY SATURDAY: A different angle, from Jim Clark:

52 Replies to "Seafair weekend: Blue Angels go up for 'practice' show"

  • RG August 6, 2010 (2:33 pm)

    A C-130 flew over my house about an hour ago. Cool!

    • WSB August 6, 2010 (2:35 pm)

      Unless there was rogue traffic from Lewis-McChord, that would have been their support plane, aka “Fat Albert.” Its takeoffs and landings are fun to watch from Boeing Field/Museum of Flight as well – there are usually a few low flybys, with its wingspan tilted perpendicular to the ground, and then when it lands, it mimics a carrier landing, angling steeply down right as the runway is reached – TR

  • Karen August 6, 2010 (2:40 pm)

    One of the planes just flew dangerously low over our house. (2:20 pm – we live one block from the lake in Madrona) We felt the house jump. We’ve lived here for 10 years and enjoy the Angels. Usually they have a pass that surprises us, but nothing like this. It was terrifying. Who do we report it to?

    • WSB August 6, 2010 (2:53 pm)

      Seafair apparently has a special complaint hotline: (206) 728-0123, extension 853

  • Carson August 6, 2010 (2:46 pm)


    Don’t waste your time…..

  • AKML August 6, 2010 (3:09 pm)

    Great fly by near Westcrest at 1:50pm, low and awesome!

  • miws August 6, 2010 (3:23 pm)

    Yep! saw Fat Albert fly over the Morgan Junction area! :cool:


    Kept watching for a Blue or two to fly over, (was also watching on KIRO TV 7.2/117). Heard ’em, sounding like they were a ways off, then, of course, when I decided to step into the kitchen to fix my sandwich, I heard one that sounded pretty much like it was right ovrehead. :(



  • blah August 6, 2010 (3:43 pm)

    Lighten up.

  • buddsmom August 6, 2010 (4:19 pm)

    Come on people! It’s approx. EIGHT hours a YEAR they fly here! Deal with it! It should be no surprise as they have been doing it since the 50’s and it’s well known when they will be here.

  • luckymom30 August 6, 2010 (5:18 pm)

    I agree with buddsmom, people complaining about the noise from the Blue Angels is like people complaining about the ferry horn, the train noise and fireworks! Fireworks and Blue Angels are only a once a year experience, as for the train noise, and ferry noise they are part of City life. Get use to it or move.

  • Karen August 6, 2010 (5:49 pm)

    No, sorry, I’m not a complainer – usually we LOVE them and invite people to watch and everything. We’re here every year looking forward to them. And usually I’m the one who criticizes complainers and says “lighten up”. But this one flyover was really really low, and our house did move, like in an earthquake. So thanks for the number.

    • WSB August 6, 2010 (6:09 pm)

      It’s true, whether you want to consider it complaint material or not, they do change things around year to year, and today, for example, they were practicing the “low show” since it was cloudy and they couldn’t do the high-flying loops, fleur-de-lis, etc., that require a (mostly) clear blue sky – even during takeoff, the maneuver by 5 & 6 that led to my iPhone photo at the start of this story was a lower, quicker peeloff than I’ve seen – and MONDO loud. I NEVER cover my ears but during that, I did. – TR

  • MargL August 6, 2010 (6:03 pm)

    OMG – I could actually hear the hydros doing their qualifying runs today all the way over in Arbor Heights!! Actually, I thought it was pretty cool. Such a distinctive noise.

  • Jo August 6, 2010 (6:36 pm)

    Did any of you hear the sonic boom.
    We sure did at Leschi.
    Cool. Can’t remember the last time I heard one of those.

  • miws August 6, 2010 (7:04 pm)

    That must’ve been awesome, and a bit surprising to hear the turbine boats clear over in Arbor Heights, MargL.


    It wouldn’t be much have been too much of a surprise in the olden days, with the piston powered “Thunderboats”.


    Until I was nearly eleven, (in 1969) I live on 38th & Manning in the Belvidere area, and we could hear them there.



  • Karen August 6, 2010 (7:19 pm)

    So it was on KIRO News: it wasn’t a sonic boom, but they did get lots of complaints. Some people thought one of the planes had crashed. I thought it was an explosion. KIRO said is a “flat” show – we’ve seen the “low” show lots of times. This is lower. I still don’t think it’s safe so low over our houses.

  • Gina August 6, 2010 (7:23 pm)

    Fat Albert was exciting to watch today. I could even see the vapor trails, propellers, the whole shebang. I liked the year the show was over Elliott Bay.

    The old time hydros–why was it when you could hear the engines revving for real, on tv they weren’t doing anything?

  • luckymom30 August 6, 2010 (7:26 pm)

    We too are in Arbor Heights and also heard the Blue Angels flying by today, it was very exciting and quite a thrill!

  • Eannaday August 6, 2010 (7:59 pm)

    Karen, et al; these pilots are professionals and among the very best in the world. You have more chance of being killed driving to work than you do from an F-18 crashing into your house for the fraction of time that they are overhead performing.

    And for anyone who thinks that they heard a sonic boom today–you did not. The FAA banned jets from flying faster than the speed of sound over populated areas back in the 1970’s. When I was a kid, they used to do maneuvers at Fairchild AFB and believe me, you will know when you hear a sonic boom. It’s like a nuclear bomb going off. No one in the Puget Sound area heard that today!

    For those people who complain about the Blues, my advice would be for you to pack up and leave town for Seafair weekend. I’ll bet it was here long before you were!

    Have a lovely weekend…

  • GenHillOne August 6, 2010 (8:02 pm)

    Ha! I could not for the life of me tell “who” was in the hatch. For anyone else having the same challenge and is afraid to ask…Seahawks’ mascot. Saw something on the shirt, but maybe I need a new screen. Or glasses.

    fwiw, LOVE the noise and think the flat show is interesting since we don’t usually have it. I really don’t think it’s more than 500′ lower than the low show, just all horizontal moves (so all the action is pretty much at the same level) and the cloud deck is lower (the sound bounces off of it). Cool!

  • JayDee August 6, 2010 (8:33 pm)

    The one year they performed over Elliot Bay the Angels would swoop over the Charlestown ridge past the house. One would hear a slight whine before the thunder came by.

    The smoke was on and it drifted through the house with the breeze…The plane may have been 20+ feet higher than the house, but not much more. Tres Cool.

  • Sara August 7, 2010 (12:09 am)

    I have no idea what the giant shockwaves, large explosive sound and our entire office building shaking like an earthquake would have been but a sonic boom Eannanday. Our ceiling tiles rattled leaving dust all over my desk and several things fell off the wall. I work in Leschi.
    I could feel it my gut and it was the loudest noise I have ever heard. I though there was plane crash.

    I don’t mind the airplanes, or the regular blue angles noise. I do mind what ever that noise was today. I do mind the completely
    inconsiderate folks that park illegally in front if hydrants, crosswalks, driveways and leave garbage everywhere without a thought about the people that actually live in the neighborhood.
    And I am a Seattle native.

  • patrick August 7, 2010 (12:38 am)

    What a huge waste of tax payers money, all air shows should be canceled, there are states basically bankrupt, people without jobs, but we can still pay for this……..

  • rdm August 7, 2010 (1:04 am)

    the airshow blues included is paid for by sponsorship and not tax dollars. Also fwiw, at NO time did ANY aircraft go beyond the speed of sound, trust me you would have know the difference. Because of the low cloud cover the air get compressed making things seem and feel abit louder.

  • michael August 7, 2010 (7:23 am)

    this is what 50% of your tax dollars pay for ——

  • 56bricks August 7, 2010 (8:21 am)

    If you’re really concerned about wasting taxpayers money just look at your government. There’s a shining example.

  • Cascadia Girl August 7, 2010 (8:53 am)

    @Karen, Sara and any other interested parties:

    I am in the Madrona/Leschi area too and experienced the boom. It was so crashing, sudden, loud, and earth-shaking that at first I thought one of the planes had crashed into a neighbors house (and living on the turn circle, given how low they were flying yesterday, it seems plausible.) Windows rattled severely, I heard the timbers of the house crack. Things fell. I was sure it was a sonic boom. Worried that damage might occur if it happened again, I called the Seafair comment line and got a recording.

    Well, to make an even longer story a bit shorter, I made many calls and ended up learning that sonic booms are illegal and that I should call the local FAA office. When I did, the investigator said he was under strict directions to redirect all complaints back to Seafair. He refused to receive any information, even though he acknowledged that sonic booms (possibly what the crash was) are illegal. Frustrating, and quite suspect actually, that the enforcing agency were rerouting all concerns back to the (possible) violator.

    To make your concerns heard, I recommend:

    Call the FAA national # to comment: 1-866-TELL-FAA (1-866-835-5322)
    Call the SeaFair Comment line: 206 728 0123 x 853
    (or do what I did and call the main #, dial 0 and ask to leave a message with Beth (the president of SeaFair).
    Email your experience to Seattle Times, as I think they are investigating:

    I’ve lived under the airshow for over 10 years and have never felt moved to express concern, until now.

  • Bryan-David Scott August 7, 2010 (9:17 am)

    What an honor and privilege it is for Seattle to be chosen as a “Home away from home” for our U. S. Navy’s Flight Demonstration Squadron, a.k.a. “Blue Angels.”

    Loud? Absolutely — screw it on 30′ over our heads with afterburners please! Rattle our windows and shake the house and office as much as possible.

    Pride of America. Best of the best. These are the same pilots that not long ago were taking off from a carrier to ensure our freedom and safety.

    To all who dare complain … I’d rather you said “Thank you, Angels.” If you are blessed to be in the flight path … every time they fly over, say a prayer of thanksgiving, peace, protection and blessings; and understand that by virtue of their presence we remain the land of the free, and they … are the brave.

  • Eannaday August 7, 2010 (9:22 am)

    Cascadia Girl, do you also feel the need to call “someone” to complain when we have a thunder storm or earthquake? What is the 800# for those complaints?

    Try seeing the glass as half full, not half empty. And stick in some earplugs in the meantime.

  • steve-o August 7, 2010 (9:22 am)

    @MargL – Those were the automotive-powered unlimited light hydroplanes that you heard (I also heard them up here in AH).

  • michael August 7, 2010 (9:47 am)

    maybe we could use all this money we spend on defense
    for repairing the bridges in Seattle that are falling down—
    just a thought

  • Cascadia Girl August 7, 2010 (10:30 am)

    Eannaday, the timbers of my house don’t make cracking sounds and belongings don’t go tumbling during a thunderstorm. I have a serious concern about possible damage to property. Would you comment so derisively about someone concerned about destructive vandalism? This was similar to a brief but seismically significant earthquake. But, unlike an earthquake, it is due to choices humans are making for the sake of entertainment. Kind of like vandalism.

  • Karen August 7, 2010 (11:32 am)

    Eannaday, Bryan-David, if you would read what people write instead of going into knee-jerk mode, you would see that those of us who were unhappy about the boom are not people who complain about everything, we love the Angels, respect what they’ve done and continue to do, etc. But just as I respect them, I don’t expect recklessness on their part. I’m not afraid one of them is going to kill me, I’m just asking them to respect MY property – I don’t want to have to argue with some insurance company when I have to spend money I don’t have to fix something that is seriously broken (“timbers cracking, yes, that’s what I heard!) because Seafair/Blue Angels won’t pay for damage they did. I’m not looking forward to today and tomorrow.

  • Bryan-David Scott August 7, 2010 (11:54 am)

    @ Karen

    Thanks for your reply. If you notice … I wrote very specifically to Cascadia girl. Her dramatic account of her house nearly being wrecked was too much to stomach. I rarely respond to things like this, but I couldn’t bring myself to ignoring this. My house and my office are directly in the flight path and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

  • Cascadia Girl August 7, 2010 (12:19 pm)


    “Dramatic” is an interesting term. I did not say my house was nearly wrecked. What I said was:

    1) The sound was a crashing, sudden, and loud sound, which it was.
    2) that it shook the earth, which it did.
    3) That I thought one of the planes had crashed into a neighbors house. Others apparently wondered the same.
    4) That my windows rattled severely, which they did.
    5) That I heard the timbers of the house crack, which I did.

    Listing observations is not drama, it is listing observations. Might interpreting those observations as a conclusion that I claimed my house was nearly wrecked – untrue – be just a tad dramatic in itself?

  • Truth out August 7, 2010 (12:31 pm)

    BP supplies the military 40% of it’s fuel. Think the folks in the Gulf want to see less oil extraction or more Blue Angles…
    Bread and circus’ folks!

  • JC August 7, 2010 (2:24 pm)

    I got a very good view of vapor cones today on both the gray F-18 and one of the Blues. I believe it was a Prandtl–Glauert singularity: which forms around transonic objects. I also experienced two low frequency booms today that shook my house. I’ve lived directly under the Blues for years and never experienced these types of booms. It felt like a really big subwoofer or an earthquake. I know what the engine noise sounds like when they come from behind the hill and drop right down in front of my house. This was different. The shock knocked dust out of the light fixtures in the ceiling.

    The two booms were not because the planes were lower this year. I’m used to them being very close over the house. One of the booms hit when the gray F-18 was flying parallel to our windows well out over the lake – not something that normally would generate a lot of noise.

    However I’m not sure the entire aircraft was supersonic (which would have caused a bigger boom). I think it’s likely that only a portion of the airflow around the aircraft was supersonic.

  • UpThere August 7, 2010 (2:37 pm)

    I just love the Blue Angels, and can’t wait to see and hear them!! Honestly, folks, you live in a large city. One of the facts of living in a large city is that there are lots of different activities! Some are loud, like airshows, some are inconvenient like a ball game or a parade, etc, etc. If you can’t stand something like this you can always move to or visit a remote part of Wyoming or Alaska. I’m sure there are many quiet places with hardly a person around.

    Seriously, let’s just all get along and have fun — it beats calling complaint lines. Don’t be a “cause snob”, don’t attract more negativity to yourself. Be thankful for whatever you have!

    Have a nice weekend! :-)

  • Cascadia Girl August 7, 2010 (2:52 pm)

    Over on the Central District News Blog, there is a new comment as part of a similar dialogue, with a Leschi resident reporting her dining room window was blown out during the show:

  • N August 7, 2010 (3:43 pm)

    Oy vey, people. To the “complainers” who say they aren’t complaining & actually love the Angels: As someone else pointed out, these are some of the best pilots in the world. They aren’t going to crash into your house. And it’s more than just “pointless entertainment” – do you even know the history of the Angels?

    As for sonic booms – I lived in LA when a shuttle took off last year. I HEARD a sonic boom from very, very far away. Having grown up around airshows & planes, I can tell you that all sorts of planes make some incredibly loud, booming sounds, but that does NOT equal a sonic boom. I love that everyone claiming it was absolutely a boom is an expert and knows exactly what a sonic boom sounds like. Had it been an actual sonic boom, I’d have heard it as far as Kirkland.

    As someone else also mentioned – because of the cloud cover, sound is compressed and will often seem louder than usual.

    As for how “safe” it is to be flying so low to houses – seeing as I doubt anyone complaining here is an expert on such things… you can trust that these professional, top notch pilots are quite knowledgeable about how close is “safe.” Have you seen any of their incredible stunts? Oh yes, they might accidentally hit something on the ground because clearly they’re not very skilled in the handling of their rides.

    And the bit where someone was going on about “damage to personal property” – oh my GOD. Dramatic much? Things rattled, so what? Something fell, so what? And yes, I have experienced such things before – but it’s never bothered me to the point of complaining about it.

    Quite frankly, I’m a lot more annoyed & concerned about my safety in regards to people still talking on their phones & texting while driving. The Blue Angels are not going to hurt you or your precious belongings. I am the last person on earth who anyone would ever call “patriotic”, however, it is an honor and a privilege to have the Angels fly here. Suck it up – go out of town tomorrow, because it will most likely happen again.

    The complaints are petty & trivial.

  • Eannaday August 7, 2010 (3:58 pm)

    Hey Cascadia Girl,

    Could it be possible that windows being blown out in the Central District were due to gang-related activity and NOT the Blue Angels? Hmmm, just a thought. And entirely more likely than sonic booms that never really materialized.

    Now go out there and have yourself some fun and stop complaining!

  • dsa August 7, 2010 (5:35 pm)

    The Blue Angels are welcome to fly over my house as close and as fast as they please any Seafair weekend. One did about ten years ago when a bunch of us were in the yard, and we all loved it. He came in over the water and skimmed over the hill, so he was very close. We loved it.

    We were all outside and someone spotted the jet. This was of course before the sound got to us. Inside a house and not knowing the extent of an uncommon loud event could be unsettling.

  • Andreas Hoerler August 8, 2010 (12:29 am)

    I was on a boat on the lake just north of the I-90 bridge during the practice session on Friday. I have heard many sonic booms and we definitely had one on that day! The speed of sound changes with temperature; that is, an airplane has to fly at a higher true airspeed in relatively warmer temperatures so at about 68 degrees fahrenheit the speed of sound is 768 MPH. Once this speed is exceeded you will hear the distinctive double boom which was heard on Friday. Even if the pilot was trying to stay in the transonic region (just below the speed of sound) he could have flown into a slight temperature change that got him into that supersonic region. Also, there are parts of the aircraft in which the airflow can reach supersonic speed even though the aircraft as a whole is not going as fast. Anyway, there was undoubtedly a sonic boom over the lake on Friday! SWEET!! AND, to all those complainers…get a life!!

  • Bryan-David Scott August 8, 2010 (1:12 am)

    @ N…can I just say that I LOVE YOU!?!? AMEN, man…AMEN! I’m not Bryan-David Scott…I’m his wife…but I just wanted to say that I TOTALLY AGREE!!! It’s amazing to me how much weenieness is going on over this. LAME!

  • RG August 8, 2010 (7:59 am)

    To TR,

    (re: first post)

    A “carrier landing”, or, as we used to say back in the old Navy, a “controlled crash”. I must say, I love those C-130s.

    Go Navy, Fly Navy!

  • Sven August 8, 2010 (10:15 pm)

    @Eannaday –
    The presupposition that someone would misrepresent facts based on what neighborhood they live in is far more offensive than any of these complaints about fighter planes.

    Just because the central district has a reputation for more crime or gang activity does not mean that it is fair game for a mud fight. Additionally, the window was in Leschi which is completely different than the Central District.

    Might I ask what neighborhood you’re a resident of?

  • thatsjarrod August 9, 2010 (3:26 pm)

    Only Seattle could have one of the most talented fighter pilots in the entire world come and try to give the people a bit of a thrill in their otherwise dreary lives, and in return the people call the FAA to report the pilot. No wonder God decided there should be no sun at Seafair this year.

  • smk August 9, 2010 (10:44 pm)

    It is seriously rediculous that people are calling complaint lines over one of the few things that are actually worth looking forward to in this city. I am trying to imagine all the effort spent trying to find the right person to bitch to about a jet being loud.
    Its a good thing the mariners don’t hit homeruns because you would be calling the police to voice your concerns about the dangers of sitting in the stands.
    If all you complainers have your way, the only thing that will be left to do is sit on the interweb and…… complain.

  • Fergus August 10, 2010 (2:18 pm)

    I can confirm that there was indeed a sonic boom over the Madrona/Leschi neighborhood on Friday afternoon during Blue Angels practice. I have experienced a Concorde sonic boom and know that it is not very easily confused with the regular engine sounds of the Blue Angels. I don’t care what the official word is on it, and I know they are not supposed to do it over the city. I’m not about to lodge any complaints about it, but it’s a bit much. Our 5-year old son was terrified and our entire house shook as if in an earthquake. He thought the plane had crashed into our house. The house was built in 1902 and has some original windows, so I checked them because I was a bit concerned we’d have some cracks. We live on the ridge between Madrona and Leschi and the boom occurred as a plane passed directly over our house.

  • S August 12, 2010 (11:09 am)

    Whether you call it a “sonic boom” or just load jet noise, it was still potentially damaging and disruptive. I count myself as an aviation enthusiast and had always gotten a kick out of hearing sonic booms as a kid in the early ’70s, but this was a little too much. I live on the top of the hill in Madrona, I too thought at first that a plane had crashed. As it occurred, I could perceive the walls and windows of my house being distorted, just as in an earthquake – this is not something you want happening to a nearly 100 year old house with original windows! Not to mention my poor dog, I’ve never seen him so frightened – even on the 4th of July in Snohomish County when neighbors were shooting off illegal (huge) fireworks next our house.

  • smk August 17, 2010 (2:44 pm)

    Well now that we actually heard 2 sonic booms during Obama’s visit, and saw the effects on the ground (911 was actually overloaded and shut down from phone calls). All you “experts” must feel pretty silly.

Sorry, comment time is over.

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