We thought it was just an urban semi-legend, but no.
The Blue Angels pilots really do sign autographs for folks along the fence by the jets. Or at least, after today’s show, they did.
We were already in the car and driving away when we noticed this — turning out of the overflow parking at the Boeing facility across the street, taking one last longing look back at the planes, then seeing several of the pilots in their yellow jumpsuits, working the fence crowd. Wow.
Otherwise, just a few random notes from today’s Museum of Flight takeoff/landing-watching trip:
-The giant TCM-branded video screen on the MOF lawn was still annoying (see yesterday’s post) but at least got put to a semi-relevant use for a while today — displaying airshow coverage from channel 7’s all-day Seafair broadcast. (But once the Blue Angels returned, it was back to some kind of movie promotion.)
-It would be a nice service if specifics were available somewhere (online?) for what’s known as “the ground show.” Nothing was offered aside from 1:20 as the Fat Albert demo time, 1:30 as the Blue Angels performance time. And even this seemed to confuse a lot of people, especially semi-early arrivals, since it was later than previous years. Doesn’t seem to be much to lose by offering other details — such as “12:45, maintenance crew arrives” — they’re the real stars of the “ground show” — or “1:10, pilot walkdown” — with an “all times approximate” disclaimer, of course.
-Now a grumble about certain members of the crowd. Two people who obviously did not know the unofficial rules plunked down two foldable chairs next to us, then left for a while. Bad form, bad form. At least one should have stayed behind. The early fence stakeout is a tough job, but unless you have mitigating circumstances (we’d happily save an unmanned spot for an elderly or disabled Blue Angels fan, for example), you gotta do it yourself. If the chair-plunkers had been away any longer, their chairs would have been fair game for others to move aside and take the spot on the fence.
-Got to listen to our favorite type of fence conversation while standing there today for nearly two hours pre-takeoff: the old war (or near-war) story.
-Then there’s our second-favorite type of fence conversation to eavesdrop on: the “remember when …” Seafair story. Today, some folks to our left spent time reminiscing about those odd years in the mid-’90s when the Blue Angels weren’t allowed to fly over Lake Washington. (Just found this fascinating recent blogpost which includes a unique perspective on some of that history.) Listening to them dredged up our own memory of 1996, when they flew over Elliott Bay, and weÃ‚ watched from Hamilton Viewpoint at the north end of Cali Ave. We remember some poor woman trying to wrangle a screaming baby, for whom the decibels were clearly a bit too much.
-Our “flight plan” for today’s Blue Angels finale was absolutely perfect. In case somebody finds this post while searching for advice next year, here’s how it goes: (1) Arrive on the fence (by the planes, NOT the runway) two hours before showtime, so you can pick the perfect spot with a view of all six jets’ cockpits, which means you’ll see each and every stop on the walkdown … (2) Once 3 of the 6 jets turn to taxi toward the runway, walk very quickly to the MOF southeastern lawn to watch the takeoff — you’ll be able to see over the runway fence, and the takeoff feels even more impressive because the rumbling effects are intensified by the MOF building right behind you … (3) After the Blues takeoff, go find a spot on the runway fence (not far at all) to watch Fat Albert’s flyby, steep landing, and taxi (wave at the crew member who pops out of the hatch atop the fuselage right next to the flag and waves at the crowd during the taxi) … (4) Once Fat Albert’s out of sight, go find a spot on the MOF’s northeast lawn, where you’ll be able to see various Angel flybys during the show, as well as some of the highest-elevation maneuvers (fleur-de-lis, circles, “candy canes,” not their official names, just how we know them) … (5) After the Angels’ final group “buzz” of the MOF crowd, they’ll be circling back in to land, so that’s your cue to walk back over to the fence near where the jets will be parked, so you can watch the “walkdown” in reverse and applaud the pilots and their crew.
And if you’ve got time to spare, especially on the final day, don’t be so quick to leave after that — you might just be there for a post-show autograph session like the one we missed today!
OK, now back to real life, till next year …