Touched by (Blue) Angels

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If you are reading this from somewhere in The Bay Area, it’s likely you experienced a bit of Fleet Week fever last week (hopefully the fun part, and not the traffic & crowds). San Francisco has held the annual Fleet Week since 1981, this year welcoming more than 9,000 crew members from the Navy, Marines, and Coast Guard arriving on visiting ships…and one million spectators! San Francisco weather is often at it's finest during October, and last week was no exception: sunshine, warm temperatures, and beautiful blue skies. Perfect weather to spend Saturday on a sailboat on the Bay, watching the highlight of Fleet Week -- the Blue Angels! Possibly because I am married to a man obsessed with flying, I’ve always looked forward to seeing the Blue Angels perform, and even know the schedule (3 pm on Saturday and Sunday afternoons). These talented and incredibly trained Navy pilots put on a dazzling air show for the million fans, and being out on the water was a spectacular spot to watch the blue and yellow birds soar through the sky. They fly at over 400 miles per hour, sometimes the planes are just 18 inches apart, and you can feel the roar of the engines through your entire body. Awesome.

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Saturday was spent on the water, but Sunday was spent on the ground. Thanks to my husband’s passion for flying, as a pilot he has access to the field at Oakland Airport where the Blue Angels planes are based for the show.  I have wanted to see them from this perspective. I was able to get up-close-and-personal, standing right next to them on the runway, watching the preparations, take-off, and landing! It was a thrilling experience, and I was honored to see the entire team of pilots and crew — so proud, professional, attentive (and with perfect posture!). I am sharing some video clips I took of these beautiful birds, and I hope you’ll experience a bit of the up-close excitement that I felt.

The Angels put on 60 shows every year, amazing crowds across the United States with their incredible maneuvers and stunts — but they also invest over 100 hours of community service on the ground during Fleet Week here in San Francisco. It’s a time that seems to bring people together, and I love seeing everyone’s own experiences of the Blue Angels on social media…whether excited about spotting them practicing on Friday afternoon, or gorgeous photos on Instagram and Facebook of the views from city high-rises, boats on the bay and Treasure Island…it’s heartwarming to feel a community come together. I believe the Angels remind us of the glory of our country (the Blue Angels couldn’t exist without teamwork!), and impart a collective sense of patriotism. I had lunch with a friend today who told me that she gets tears in her eyes the first time she hears them thunder over her house, and her heart shakes with the rumbling. They do shake us at the core, as a symbol of the American spirit that connects us all -- like hearing the Star-Spangled Banner at a sporting event. It felt especially poignant this year, given the friction and uneasiness so many feel this election season. I am grateful to the Blue Angels for reminding me, thrilling me, and inspiring me. Fly Safe.

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