Do we really need the Blue Angels?

|
(19)

blueangels.jpg
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.

Comments

Campers,

Mr. Morse is incorrect about the Angels passes over the City. In NYC they are simply not allowed to fly diectly over the buildings. Here, they fly in between them. I know cause I live in the Tenderloin and they do it every year. My own theory is that it's an in-your-face from Feinstein cause the City rejected the Missouri and the Iowa.

That said, I was stationed on the Enterprise in the early 60's and I love the jets. Just bring them in over the water, let em perform over the Bay and send them out the same way. Just like NYC.

h.

Posted by h. brown on Oct. 08, 2008 @ 2:59 am

I think the jets are cool. I dig SF for everything - from the crazy parades, whacked out festivals, concerts in the park to jets flying over each year. You could say the huge variety of events we have in SF give this city the DIVERSITY that I crave.

As for the grave danger of getting hit by a crashing jet - I'll take those odds over the regular road hazards in the City any day!

Posted by Stefan on Oct. 07, 2008 @ 10:38 am

I'm of two minds about this. I love airshows, and I think most people in SF are capable of looking past the propaganda aspect of the show. But the danger is real, and if a large majority of residents in the city have an issue with it, then it probably needs to be confined to the water or eliminated entirely. A friend of mine is a combat vet with PTSD, and he basically has to go into hiding during Fleet Week. And many others don't like the noise. So the complaints about noise are legitimate, and I share the concern.

Note that most airshows are done in what is known as "the box." Dangerous maneuvers and close-quarters flying are done in an area where the vectors would put a disabled aircraft into an unpopulated area. So when the Blue Angels fly here, they aren't doing high-speed head-on passes over the city proper...they're always over the water and pointing towards more water when they do that. It's a form of risk mitigation. But yeah, the danger from saner maneuvers is still there, and jets flying overhead is certainly disconcerting for many city residents.

Posted by Joe Morse on Oct. 07, 2008 @ 1:44 pm

I love the jets - they're cool and along with gay pride and Love parade I feel they make our city a cooler and more diverse place. Too many times leftists think diversity applies only to certain categories, it doesn't. There's room in SF for everyone - including those who love the military and military equipment.

Posted by Shane on Oct. 07, 2008 @ 3:33 pm

To Shane - I live in the Tenderloin, I can deal with city noise. There's people screaming and blasting music outside my window constantly. I cannot deal with the sonic boom of a jet flying directly over my house 20 times a day. Nobody could sleep through that. It's ridiculous and totally fucking unnecessary.

Posted by Enzo on Oct. 09, 2008 @ 3:51 pm

How about the cost at a time when the next great depression is right around the corner:

from the Blue Angel's Website:

How much does an F/A-18 cost?
The 1997 basic acquisition price of a single F/A-18 Hornet is approximately $28 million. The cost of additional weapons-related equipment varies according to the configuration and use of each aircraft can significantly increase the total price.
x 6 = -$168 million dollars for a base price.

How much fuel does an F/A-18 Hornet use in a show?
On the average, one F/A-18 uses approximately 8,000 pounds or 1,300 gallons of JP-5 jet fuel at a cost of roughly $1,378.
x 6 = $8268.

Sure seems to me that this country has more important ways to spend money than a fancy air show.

Posted by Nancy on Oct. 07, 2008 @ 5:20 pm

Let me get this straight;cigarettes are not welcome here,due to the second-hand smoke or whatever,but a team of jets can strafe the city,putting more pollution in your lungs than all the smokers in the city would in yen lifetimes of heavy smoking.If a gang of bikers came through town on their obnoxious harleys,we would be upset at the noise and smoke they created,but these jets can fly over us and create more noise and pollution,and we cheer them?War is a cowardly act an this is just another display of showing the world how tuff we are,as if they cared.This useless arrogance is another reason why the world hates us,and I don't blame them.I can't stand arrogant,fearful people throwing their weight around and so should you.The fascism and hypocrisy are gaining groung here in a city that proffesses to be above all that.I hope and pray that,since I can't stop this idiocy,none of the jets will crash over the city,or anywhere else for that matter.Maybe it's like the stop-light theory,that they won't put up a stop-light until an accident occurs.The dumbing down campain is working like a charm.

Posted by dan cope on Oct. 09, 2008 @ 12:33 pm

Hi everyone. The bitterest tears shed over graves are for words left unsaid and deeds left undone. Help me! Could you help me find sites on the: Wall clock. I found only this - synthroid and infertility. Standard dilutions amount of drug infusion volume infusion rate. Buy synthroid site member details. Thank :-) Latisha from Mali.

Posted by Latisha on Apr. 23, 2009 @ 3:40 pm

Let me get this straight;cigarettes are not welcome here,due to the second-hand smoke or whatever,but a team of jets can strafe the city,putting more pollution in your lungs than all the smokers in the city would in ten lifetimes of heavy smoking.If a gang of bikers came through town on their obnoxious harleys,we would be upset at the noise and smoke they created,but these jets can fly over us and create more noise and pollution,and we cheer them?War is a cowardly act an this is just another display of showing the world how tuff we are,as if they cared.This useless arrogance is another reason why the world hates us,and I don't blame them.I can't stand arrogant,fearful people throwing their weight around and neither should you.The fascism and hypocrisy are gaining groung here in a city that professes to be above all that.I hope and pray that,since I can't stop this idiocy,none of the jets will crash over the city,or anywhere else for that matter.Maybe it's like the stop-light theory,that they won't put up a stop-light until an accident occurs.The dumbing down campain is working like a charm.

Posted by dan cope on Oct. 09, 2008 @ 12:36 pm

whaaaaaaah! whaaaaaah! sheesh.

Posted by Will on Oct. 09, 2008 @ 2:22 pm

Poor Enzo - perhaps we can require the entire city to be on "quiet time" for he and his kitty. Or maybe Enzo (and his cats) can learn to DEAL with the noise - like all of us have learned too, being that we all live in, you know, a major American CITY.

Posted by Shane on Oct. 08, 2008 @ 2:28 am

"Jets are cool!" Okay, Beavis & Butthead. Lots of things in San Francisco are cool, and don't disrupt everything and endanger lives. I agree that it's a huge waste of taxpayer money and fuel, and I also have personal reasons for detesting the Blue Angels. I work graveyard shifts, and sleep during the day, or try to - during Fleet Week it's pretty much impossible. Even when I'm not trying to sleep, the noise is so loud it startles the shit out of me as well as my cat, who's not one of those easily-spooked cats, either. Then I have to go work a 12-hour overnight shift on no sleep. I wish they would do away with this useless, redneck-style entertainment, or at least move it out to the 'burbs where it belongs.

Posted by Enzo on Oct. 08, 2008 @ 12:05 am

h. -

I think what I said is a bit more subtle. Aerobatic maneuvers are done with an energy vector over the water. Check out the safety section on this page:

http://www.answers.com/topic/airshow

Aerobatic maneuvers may only be performed if the energy vector of the aircraft is not directed toward the crowd. All aerobatic maneuvers must be performed inside the "airshow box", a rectangular volume of airspace which provides the specified distance from all spectators, and up to a certain altitude over this area. No people are allowed in the airshow box except those assisting the pilot in his or her act (for example, to hold poles the aircraft flies between, or to drive ground vehicles associated with the aerial act). This means any roads in the airshow box (such as a highway at one end of the airfield) may have to be closed, and any buildings in the airshow box must be evacuated during the airshow.

When the Angels and other aircraft fly over the buildings, they aren't doing aerobatics...but that doesn't make them any less disconcerting for some.

h. I think you're on to a decent idea: constrain the flying to a smaller airshow box over the water. That wouldn't satisfy the folks who have a problem with the airshow's very existence, but it might cut down on the noise. Yes, we live in a major city, and we expect a certain amount of noise...but that doesn't include the deafening roar of military jets overhead. Not that we'll have to worry about that for too much longer...the US won't have enough money to keep them in the air for much longer.

Posted by joewmorse on Oct. 08, 2008 @ 11:25 am

I know it has been a while since any postings have been made and some of the opinions I agree with. However, the Blue Angels have become a National Institution and give millions of fans and opportunity to see first hand the capability of the weapons systems their tax dollars pay for. I a response above, Nancy wrote about the cost of the equipment the Blue Angels fly. Her assumptions and numbers are wrong. The F-18s the Blue Angels fly are old equipment on their way to the "bone yard" or a display at some airfield somewhere in the country. True, they originally were expensive but they are well beyond the flight time limits the Navy places on their operation jet fleet. The planes have been striped of all weapons and non-essential instrumentation not need to perform the airshows.

One final comment: San Fransisco is not alone! Typically the people who complain about the noise are habitual complainers who will complain about anything that doesn't suit them. I for one would love to have the Blue Angels perform in my city!

Posted by Joe Dunegan on Sep. 23, 2009 @ 2:39 am

Who is going to reimburse family members of those citizens killed by a Blue Angels crash, the city & government of San Francisco? Can the city afford the huge payout?

The Blue Angels should practice over unpopulated areas or over the water where they perform. If they need to navigate over SF to get back to the water, the FAA should give them a higher altitude/flight level clearance.

I work across City Hall and the noise is so loud and and annoying that I can't hear my clients on the phone.

Ishmael Bihl,
former Air Traffic Controller in the United States Air Force.

Posted by Ishmael Bihl on Oct. 09, 2009 @ 12:49 pm

Please tell us how we can move this air show to a non-urban environment. It is ridiculous to subject millions of people to the belief systems of a few. There has got to be a better way to make some tourist dollars.

Posted by Arthur on Oct. 09, 2009 @ 1:28 pm

I sometimes feel as if we're in the old Soviet Union, where on every patriotic holiday all these trucks holding big missiles would parade up and down the streets to show the citizens just how strong and well-equipped the military forces were.

I don't need to be reminded that the US has big, fast, cool jets that can bomb other people into dust. I read about it in the news every day.

Posted by tim redmond on Oct. 09, 2009 @ 2:05 pm

i don't like the angels. but, whatever.

Posted by marmot on Oct. 09, 2009 @ 3:53 pm

We have become a military Power....first and foremost...which is VERY disturbing! I don't want to be a military power that invades other countries....we have become the new Russia! The noise and pollution and the expense of this is outrageous in these hard times. Why would you expose a whole city to a week of this??? It makes no sense at all....I do agree it is a redneck sport!

Posted by Ali8 on Oct. 10, 2009 @ 4:24 pm