- Posted August 1, 2014 by
Blue Angels Stir Seattle Skies Above Boeing Field
They're back! After being grounded for most of their 2013 season due to "sequestration," those automatic budget cuts, the U.S. Navy's popular aerial demonstration group, the Blue Angels, have returned this year, with engines roaring like a gang of angry adolescents awakened from hibernating in the locked bedrooms of their parents' houses.
While huge crowds gather for the Blue Angels "City of Chicago Air and Water Show," the "Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam Air Show," and 36 others on their 2014 tour, Seattle, a Boeing town, shares a close connection with the flying troupe, and many of its residents perk up to witness the Blue Angels at their "SeaFair Boeing Air Show", Saturday & Sunday, August 2 & 3.
In the shows, pilots fly six Boeing F/A-18 Hornet aircraft (originally designed by McDonnell Douglas and Northrop.) Pilots and narrators are both Navy and USMC naval aviators. For the Seattle show, the jets take off and land at Boeing Field, near downtown Seattle.
At times they fly over the remains of the recently demolished Boeing Plant 2 where, during WWII, 6,981 iconic planes, the B-17 "Flying Fortresses", were built. Also iconic were “Rosie the Riveters," female workers recruited to Plant 2 by the government to help build these four-engine bombers and other aircraft for the munitions industry, both in Seattle and nationwide.
While the B-17 was 18 feet longer than the F/A-18 Hornet, and its wingspan 103 feet vs. the Hornet's modest 40 feet of wingspan, its top speed was 287 mph, while the Hornet's is 1,400 mph and can reach 30,000 feet in just one minute.
Seattle is still home to many surviving Rosie the Riveters, B-17 engineers, and of course the fighter pilots and crew who risked their lives over enemy territory to win freedom for the West.
Ask them, and they might say if not for the B-17, there may never have been a Hornet to buzz the skies and sting the ears of the awe-inspired crowds below.
Pictured in first image of slideshow, top, is a B-17 in flight three years ago over Boeing Field. Pictured in the first image, bottom, are the Blue Angels of today, flying through the same airspace the B-17's occupied 75 years earlier.
In some photos Mount Rainier, 60 miles southeast of Seattle, serves as a majestic backdrop. I took these Blue Angels photos during one of their practice runs, on Thursday, July 31, prior to their official weekend show.
Story & Photos by Steve Shay