San Francisco Fleetweek 2016
This year’s Fleetweek had some amazing weather across all practice and show days for the weekend, which is rather rare for San Francisco. There was no humidity in the air which meant that the F-22 Raptor produced only a minimum amount of vapor in its high G maneuvers.
The parade of ships took place on Friday which was led in by the San Francisco fireboat and included the USS San Diego LPD 22, USS Mobile Bay CG 53, USCGC Mellon WHEC 717, and HMCS Calgary FFH 335. The four ships were open for tours for the remainder of the weekend.
The USN Leapfrogs started the show with two separate jumps out of a C-130 Hercules. The first one included two jumpers that held the American Flag between them as the National Anthem played. On the second pass five jumpers leaped out of the C-130 and performed various precision skydiving maneuvers including a few stacked formations and two jumpers locked together while spiraling down toward the ground for a low level release.
The USCG Search and Rescue (SAR) demo included the new HC-27J Spartan and two MH-65D Dolphins performing various SAR procedures. The two MH-65D Dolphins both came in and each dropped a diver into the water and then hoisted them back into the helicopter. The HC-27J circled around the airspace and performed an airdrop of supplies in the center of the show box.
The RCAF CF-18 Hornet was sporting a bright paint job to commemorate the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan (BCATP) and its contribution to training pilots and air crews for World War II. The demo showcased the F-18 Hornet’s maneuverability as well as the spectacular paint scheme.
Mike Wiskus flew his Lucas Oil Pitts through various stunt maneuvers. In between his maneuvers, Mike would fly low level over the bay to gain speed for the next vertical maneuver. These low level passes made for some interesting pictures with boats in the background.
The Breitling Jet Team from France flew an aerial ballet with their seven L-39 Albatross jet trainers that included many different formations and formation changes in front of the crowd. The two solos then dropped off of the main formation and flew some crowd shocking crosses including the two solos splitting the five aircraft V formation. They ended their show with a flare filled six aircraft formation break toward the crowd.
F-22 Raptor demo showcases the amazing capabilities of our newest air superiority fighter. It not only shows the raw unequaled power of the Raptor but also the physics defying maneuverability that is a trademark of the aircraft thanks to its thrust vectoring exhaust nozzles. These maneuvers include the power loop, the one eighty to one eighty flat spin, the high alpha pass, and various stalls and low speed turns that are not possible in other modern fourth generation fighter aircraft. At the end of the demo, the F-22 joined up with a P-51 Mustang named “Dolly” to perform a USAF Heritage Flight.
The Patriots Jet Team flew their six L-39 Albatross with red, white, and blue smoke. They flew similar show to the Breitling Jet Team since they fly the same aircraft, but the Patriots fly less formations and more thrilling performance displays.
United Airlines was a sponsor of the airshow, and they flew one of their 747-400 in the airshow and performed five passes including a low speed landing configuration pass.
Sean D. Tucker flew his Oracle Challenger through many stunt maneuvers including his unique harrier pass where he hangs the airplane vertically and hovers. One of the best parts of the performance is when the airshow announcer talks to Sean while he is flying through some of his maneuvers including some high G flips. You can hear the strain in his voice as he pulls these high G maneuvers.
The Blue Angels flew their six F/A-18s as the last act of the show. They flew through their tight formations including the diamond, echelon, trail to diamond, and delta formations. When the solos are not flying in the formations, they are flying opposing maneuvers, sneak passes, and various maneuvers to demonstrate the F/A-18s flight capabilities. The Blue Angels and the SF bay backdrop make for some great and unique opportunities for pictures, including shots of the Blues with the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz, and the SF skyline. There are many great photo opportunities to capture the Blues with one of the most picturesque cities in the nation.
We’d like to thank the United States Navy, Air Force, and Coast Guard, and the Royal Canadian Navy and Air Force for always supporting Fleetweek and for the organizers for putting on an excellent Fleetweek