On the fence

We’ve mentioned that our favorite place to experience Blue Angels mania during Seafair weekend is on the fence by their parking spot at Museum of Flight/Boeing Field. After bringing the camera along today, we can show you what that’s really like:


That’s the fence crowd by the jets (not to be confused with the fence on the BF runway) around 1 pm, just before the pilots show up. We got there a lot earlier to be on the front line, inspected by the bomb-sniffing dog, whose photo you will see (and more) after the click:


With two rows of fencing (the second row was set up Thursday morning after we got this pic), it’s hard to get a chain-link-free photo without a really spiffy camera, which we do not have. So forgive the next few. This is one of at least three female crew members we spotted today — up from only one last year.


Though the entire entourage had motorcaded up to MOF/BF just after 11:30 am, complete with SPD motorcycle escorts, the pilots didn’t appear, as usual, till right before showtime. Here they are assembling by BA #1, starting to line up for their always-breathtaking “walkdown”:


Once the pilots are in the FA-18s and the cockpits are closed, the engines roar to life and the crew members, three per jet, begin their own choreographed routine to signal the pilots to test various systems. Then all but one crew member per plane peel off and jog to this spot on the fence:


Once all systems are go, taxiing ensues, and by the time the Angels are in takeoff formation, most of us fence-standers have briskly walked (some even run) over to the east side of the MOF, facing the BF runway for this view (the jets are pointed north):


Right after they take off, their support C-130 “Fat Albert” (nicknamed after this ’70s cartoon character) finishes its demo run and lands in a sharp downward plunge, at a steep angle reminiscent of SW Charlestown just west of the 7-11. Always a crowd fave.


For the next half-hour or so, everyone keeps their eyes on the sky to watch for sightings inbetween stunts over the lake.


Then one last fly-by, and all six circle in to land, and return to their spot by the fence. (Right after this photo, one maintenance person rushed by on our side of the fence with another official-looking type who asked urgently, “Did you talk to Number Five?” and the other, noting the sight of 100 civilian ears perking up, replied, “Yes, let’s go over THERE to talk …” No word yet what the deal was with Number Five. Don’t think that’s the one that dropped out of yesterday’s practice, since #5 is one of the soloists, and the diamond — 1 thru 4 — was the formation that went short.)


Right after the pilots left their jets, a fuel-truck convoy rolled in. (According to the Navy’s Blue Angels FAQ, each FA-18 uses 1,300 gallons of JP-5 jet fuel during the average show.)


Grand finale tomorrow. Then, as we do every year afterward, we sigh heavily and attempt to get a life.

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