Do we really need the Blue Angels?

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Whoops, too close, everyone's dead

By Tim Redmond

The Chron did its usual puff piece on Fleet Week today:

Windows will rattle, dogs will howl and a lot of people will complain about the ruckus. But those cries are traditionally drowned out by cheers from enthralled fans, and also drowned out by the jet engines.

I hate to be a killjoy, but there's more to this story.

I'll admit -- I love cool technology, and the F/A 18 is a boss jet. I always appreciate amazing human skill, and the people who fly in the Blue Angels are phenomenal pilots. In the abstract, it's a fun show to watch.

But this is a big city, and it's a city with a big antiwar movement, and this expensive show of military might is really pretty ridiculous.

I got an interesting letter from journalist Rick Knee this morning in response to the KTVU news coverage. He makes some good points.

Here's his letter, which he sent to KTVU:

Toward the end of Monday's 10 p.m. newscast, co-anchor Julie Haener
described the Blue Angels as "fun to watch."

There are many, many people who feel differently:
-- People averse to loud noise; some become physically ill, even
suffering heart attacks, from it.
-- Small children.
-- Veterans traumatized by war.
-- Families who have survived war.
-- Students and working people (including some fellow journalists) whose
concentration is shattered by the Blue Angels' thunder.
In addition, pets and local wildlife find the noise quite terrifying.

The Blue Angels' shows and Fleet Week are touted as boosting tourism and
thus the local economy. Perhaps that is true on a net basis. However:
-- There are residents who leave town and out-of-towners who stay away
when they know the Blue Angels are to perform.
-- Some companies and individuals use equipment that is rendered
inoperable by the noise and vibration from the jet aircraft.

But there are issues far more important than the economy:
-- The Blue Angels pose an immediate, grave risk to life, limb and
property by flying at near-sonic speed, in extremely tight formation, at
extremely low altitude over densely populated neighborhoods.
-- The air shows waste taxpayer money at a time of unparalleled federal
deficits, and they waste oil and fuel when those are in short supply.
-- The engine exhaust from the Blue Angels' jets and other aircraft in
the aerobatics displays pollutes the air, the bay and the soil,
exacerbating global warming.

Yes, there are lots of people who enjoy the air shows. That does not
give them the right to force them on those who do not. At the very
least, the city should insist that the Blue Angels' flight path be
strictly over water, as is the case in New York.

In light of all this, Ms. Haener's editorializing was gratuitous.