Blue Angels “behind the scenes”: Boeing Field, and more

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 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.

23 Replies to "Blue Angels "behind the scenes": Boeing Field, and more"

  • cclarue August 2, 2009 (9:59 am)

    Love Love Love the Blues. Going down to Georgetown to watch them today!

  • lovetheblues August 2, 2009 (2:23 pm)

    Great coverage. Love, love, love them! Oh and btw Len Anderson is EASY on the eyes too!

  • Scar August 2, 2009 (4:23 pm)

    Ah, the blue angels. Can I please have my tax money back now? Military recruiting my ass. Just another example of a government that is bankrupt yet still spends like they were P. Diddy. It’s disgusting.

  • mike green August 2, 2009 (4:43 pm)

    yum ——smell those patriotic fumes !!


  • lina August 2, 2009 (6:50 pm)

    i hear ya Scar i can think of about a billion things more worthy of money than the military propanda circus of jets flying over major metropolitan cities. i wonder when citizens will will up to the fact that it is totally unappropriate for so many reasons, sorry i am a party pooper.

  • WesCAddle August 2, 2009 (7:59 pm)

    LOL, extremists! Gotta love ’em.

    Everything in moderation folks. One weekend a year, sweet airshow featuring awesome machinery operated by super talented and well trained pilots…all in good fun. Relax and enjoy life.

    I am actually pleasantly surprised by how few people got on the forums this year to complain about The Blues. I remember a few years ago when there were all sorts of people on here complaining about the noise, fuel burn, and how their cats will never be the same. Most of them have obviously realized how silly they sound.

    It’s funny, the people that were born and raised here in Seattle appreciate Seafair for what it is. A fun celebration!

    Usually, it’s the folks that have moved here from out of town that have the hardest time with it.

    For Scar, Mike, and Lina-

    Welcome to Seattle, and we hope you stay a while. Next year you might consider this weekend a great time to go home and visit family.

  • WSB August 2, 2009 (8:07 pm)

    Well, there are many more places to voice an opinion this year. A Facebook group titled something like “Blue Angels, Leave Seattle” sprung up. kept milking the topic by bringing up repeated excuses to discuss “love ’em or hate ’em.” Certainly we’re not the epicenter of Blue Angels/Seafair coverage here – it’s one of those rare topics in which we somewhat indulge our own interest, though it’s not West Seattle-specific, knowing that there are a fair number of people out there also interested – and there’s evidence it’s of value to somebody (a well-known WS community activist turned up on the fence next to me yesterday and mentioned he’d never watched from that vantage point before but had read our repeated ramblings and decided to check it out) … One more installment to go, processing the pix now! – TR

  • WesCAddle August 2, 2009 (8:23 pm)

    TR, I’m sure that the 18 “fans” of Blue Angels, Leave Seattle” on Facebook had a swell time and contributed a ton of money to the PNW economy this weekend…but I have a feeling that the thousands of Seafair fans around the Sound contributed even more…and had a blast while doing it!


  • ahhh boo August 2, 2009 (9:26 pm)

    I’m with WesCAddle LIGHTEN UP and Welcome to Seattle – the Blue Angels are a tradition here, tax dollars be damned! Why don’t you go after the governor for the deep bore tunnel she shoved down our throats? Now there is some TAX DOLLARS WASTED. There are very few thrills in life and to some of us this is one of them. Thanks Blue Angels!

  • Scar August 2, 2009 (10:52 pm)

    WesCAddle: Ah, the old “if you don’t like it, leave” argument. Nice! You remind me of the moronic republicans who, during Bush’s time in office, would say things like “If you don’t like torture, get the hell out of the country!” Grow up.

  • WesCAddle August 2, 2009 (11:19 pm)

    I’m not trying to tell you to leave West Seattle. I’m just saying, if an airshow gets you so worked up, maybe that is a good time to head home to California for the weekend and visit relatives.

    It makes me sad (and a little embarrassed to be a liberal) when people try to politicize something like an airshow.

    Lighten up, enjoy the show (or don’t) but please don’t assume everything needs an agenda attached to it.


  • Scar August 2, 2009 (11:28 pm)

    I was born and raised in Seattle. Take your condescending attitude elsewhere.

    “Lighten up! We are so far in debt but let’s waste more money! Why not!”

    The US Government and the way it spends its time and resources is political by definition. If you don’t give a crap about our wasted tax dollars, then I can’t help you.

    But hey, I hope you have fun looking at the sophomoric air shows when our country is owned by China. Should be good times!

  • relax August 3, 2009 (12:41 am)

    good lord…ITS ENTERTAINMENT. And gee guess what – liberal or conservative you are a part of the US government whether you like it or not.

  • Scar August 3, 2009 (1:38 am)

    Hey Relax.

    Some form of entertainment!

    From the Angels website: “The Blue Angels’ mission is to enhance Navy and Marine Corps recruiting efforts and to represent the naval service to the United States.”

    They are flying around in order to further the war machine that we all fund with our tax dollars. I think I have a right to complain about them. I detest everything they stand for.

    If you think the Angels aren’t political or aren’t an extension of the US Military Industrial Complex, then you need to wake up.

  • WesCAddle August 3, 2009 (10:35 am)

    I think the vast majority of folks who complain about the airshow do so for the same reason as you Scar. I applaud your ability to at least admit the fact that the reason you dislike the airshow is because you associate it with our military….which as you say “I detest”.

    Most people will come on here and complain about the expense (btw- the entire airshow costs significantly less than it costs to operate a B747 from Seattle to England….once) or they will complain about the road closures, or the fact that commercial air traffic is being re-routed over their homes.

    It must make your life choices extremely easy, the ability to paint with such a broad brush.

  • Steph August 3, 2009 (10:39 am)

    Wow Scar, what rock do you come from under? They have been around for a long time. I have watched them since I was about 10 yr. The air shows they put on don’t cost as much as you think and wouldn’t be a drop in the bucket compared to what the military waste on a daily basis plus they sell a lot of stuff at the air shows and probably make a nice profit doing so. To me they don’t stand for war which I hate too, they are just fun watch and enjoy. Why don’t you try to enjoy life a little….

  • John August 3, 2009 (10:57 am)

    Anyone know when the angels will be leaving Boeing field?

  • WSB August 3, 2009 (10:58 am)

    As noted in our more recent update, they are scheduled to leave tomorrow, as of our original Boeing Field roundup. I am checking with Seafair PR today to see if they have a more concrete time. When we get that, we’ll publish something separately. Watch our Blue Angels coverage category (see the link under the headline on this story) … TR

  • Scar August 3, 2009 (11:52 am)

    “To me they don’t stand for war which I hate too.”

    They don’t. Well given that they are a recruiting tool, I have to say you’re just plain ignorant and refuse to accept the truth.

    WesCaddle: And your life choices must be easy as well, since you obviously stand for nothing. I feel sorry for you.

  • mike green August 3, 2009 (12:34 pm)

    the Blues have inspired me to invade other third world
    countries in the name of Freedom—-thanks Blues !!!


  • Steph August 3, 2009 (4:02 pm)

    When I watch them I don’t think to myself, “I will go and join the air force”! That never crossed my mind when I was thinking about joining the navy out of high school way back when… The one recruiting tool they use the most which is very low cost is going to high schools and getting the kids to sign up without any pictures of the BA’s is enough damage. I feel sorry for you because all you stand for is complaining about how bad life is.

  • brandon August 3, 2009 (9:59 pm)

    Good grief. I guess the hydro’s are just as evil too since they use helicoptor engines from the military too. And lets denounce night vision, cell phones (comes from that technology too), space exploration, the Shuttle, and the easter bunny! If you are so detested, why hang around when you know their schedule YEARS IN ADVANCE (hint: first weekend in Auguest every year). And please don’t patronize me by feeling sorry.

  • Lisa August 7, 2009 (9:09 pm)

    I love ’em, love the noise, the colors, and the guys, well, they’re hot. I guess it’s nice to see a man who’s sharp and not all slovenly looking, like most of (myself included) us NW natives.

Sorry, comment time is over.