Oct 4, 2022 - News

Fleet Week lands in San Francisco

Fleet week air show

The Blue Angels fly over the Bay. Photo: Ray Chavez/MediaNews Group/The Mercury News via Getty Images

Fleet Week — among our city's most polarizing events of the year — is upon us.

What's happening: The popular air show, which includes the rip-roaring Navy Blue Angels and other military planes, will take place Friday through Sunday from noon to 4pm, per the SF Standard.

  • The Blue Angels are expected to start flying at 3pm on each of the show's three days, and will likely practice on Thursday afternoon, as you'll be sure to hear.
  • There will also be a United 777 performing a "fully choreographed act," making it the "only air show in the United States with a commercial airliner," per the event's website.

Zoom out: There are other, often-overlooked activities that are part of San Francisco's Fleet Week.

  • The parade of ships, which features visiting military boats that cross under the Golden Gate Bridge and enter the Bay, takes place Friday, 11am-noon, and can be easily viewed from the Marina Green or Tunnel Tops Park.
  • Tours of the ships will be available throughout the week, as well as pop-up concerts across the city put on by the Navy and Marine Corps bands.
  • A "K9 Heroes" event will take place at Duboce Park on Saturday at 10am and include search and rescue demonstrations with service dogs.

The intrigue: While the event is popular among many residents — especially those with access to rooftops and views of the air show — it is perhaps equally despised by those who take issue with noise from the Blue Angels' jets and the military pomp.

  • Of note: The event — which premiered in 1981 under the watch of then-Mayor Dianne Feinstein — is considered the "country's largest celebration of the U.S. armed forces," according to the SF Chronicle.

What they're saying: "A lot of people, they're offended by the noise because they have dogs and the dogs get scared. And I have to say, I empathize with them," SF Fleet Week's executive director Lewis Loeven told Axios. "But it's a very important tradition for San Francisco. It's important to show the men and women who are serving in the military that San Francisco cares."

  • Loeven said one of his favorite events of the week is the High School Band Challenge, which takes place in Golden Gate Park's Bandshell, and awards $10,000 to the winning school.
  • Meanwhile, the popular Twitter account Karl the Fog said Monday: "If you have pets, small kids, or are a human who doesn't like terrible things, we advise you to abandon the city and return on Monday when the coast is clear."

💭 Nick's thought bubble: The loud noises can be annoying, but I'm maybe more disturbed by seeing a commercial plane fly so low. Last year, I was pretty confused/terrified before I realized it was part of the show.

  • FWIW, a spokesperson for United Airlines, which is Fleet Week's "presenting sponsor," told me its participation in the air show is meant to "inspire the next generation of aviators."

If there's one thing we can all agree on, it's that nice weather is welcomed!


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