Recap San Francisco Fleet Week(end) 2017

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October 1st – October 9th, 2017 was Fleet Week in San Francisco. The highlight of Fleet Week is the airshow on the weekend and the Parade of ships coming into the bay by passing under the Golden Gate Bridge.

This was my first time at the San Francisco Fleet Week. For me, it was only a Fleet Weekend because I had to work all day and even during the weekend. However, I managed to get some hours off to enjoy the airshow and check out the main event at Marina Green.

Already throughout the week, I was able to see the Blue Angels flying over the city and practicing for the big weekend. Fleet Week is an annual event in San Francisco.

People come to hang out at Crissy Field and other places along the San Francisco shoreline to enjoy the airshow. People taking their boats out into the bay to get the best “seats” available for the airshow. The airshow is definitely the highlight of the San Francisco Fleet Week.

Marina Green

At the main event site at Marina Green, you can visit booths of sponsors and the “Humanitarian Assistance Village”. The village is an interactive demonstration of U.S. military and Civil capabilities to respond to disasters.

I liked this interactive demonstration as you could get your hands onto their equipment and talk to first responders and listen to their stories and why they do what they do or even volunteer.

United as one of the main sponsors had a booth as well and you could win prizes by spinning a wheel and signing up for a giveaway. Unfortunately, their iPads ran out of power when I showed up, and was only able to spin the wheel and win binoculars. The premium seats, which you were able to purchase, were located along the waterfront here. The advantage of watching the show from the premium seats or the Humanitarian Assistance Village was that you were able to listen to the announcements and even live radio during the airshow.

There was an option in the official app to listen to the live stream for the airshow, however, this never worked for me and the reception was at some places not too good.


I took most of the pictures of the airshow from the Torpedo Wharf near the Golden Gate Bridge. This gave me a pretty good view of the airshow and the Blue Angels crossover that pier a few times during their performance. The downside was that even with my 400mm lens I had issues capturing the performance of the small bi-planes.

On the bright side, it was a great spot to get pictures of the United Boeing 747 passing over the Golden Gate Bridge. From this angle, it looks like the plane flies closely over the bridge. In reality, it’s pretty far away and you would see that if you watch the show from Marina Green or somewhere around there. I loved the performance of United’s Boeing 747. Unfortunately, this plane will have its last flight in November 2017 and United will retire its last 747. I was able to capture some images of United’s 747 and other planes during the official SFO planespotting event in August.

Heritage Flights are usually a part of every airshow. A heritage flight is the showcase of a vintage aircraft next to its modern counterpart. The U.S. Airforce Heritage flight program was founded in 1997 at the 50th anniversary of the Air Force. In 2010, the Air Force Heritage Flight Foundation was founded to keep this tradition alive. During the airshow, visitors were able to see a P-51 Mustang fighter jet flying side by side with an F-16 Fighting Falcon.

F-16 and P-51 Mustang Heritage Flight

Besides that, I also got lucky and was able to capture one of the Blue Angel’s F-18 Horned breaking through the sound barrier. I have been to a lot of airshows but this was the first time that I was able to capture this event.

U.S. Navy Blue Angels breaking through the sound barrier

You probably guessed it already, but the highlight of the airshow was the performance of the Blue Angels. I have seen them before in action and it’s breathtaking every time you watch them performing their tight and close maneuvers in the air.

Unfortunately, I missed the Parade of Ships and because of work, I didn’t have enough time to tour any of the ships anchored in San Francisco for Fleet Week.

For more photos of the San Francisco Fleet Week visit my Flickr album.

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