As i am approaching 20 years living here in San Francisco, i have always been very aware and involved in our city’s politics and events (and just general city issues).
There are a few things that one can count on like clockwork here in SF. Fleet week has been one of those things. They have had their week down to a science and (up until this week) here is how it goes down….
- It always falls on Columbus Day weekend.
- The Blue Angels fly into SF usually on Wednesday night. You will see aircraft high up in the sky (i have always assumed that they were taking their measurements and plotting their landmarks as well as checking out the city. ) They always fly high on this first wednesday night.
- Thursday… the fun day! Thursday seems to be somewhat of a free day. Back in 1994, they took this “play” to a whole new level by zooming tall buildings and flying back and forth UNDER the bridges. Drivers were having nervous breakdowns getting sonic boomed from below! There were concerns that accidents would be caused by this. The workers in the (then) tallest buildings were having their nerves were shot by having an F16 fly 100 feet past their office windows 40 floors up.
(on a personal note, this year in 1994, my dad and i happened to be visiting my Grandma who at the time lived on the top floor apt. across the street from the Comstock bldg on Jones st. (the very top block of Nob Hill). I swear to god it was like they flew 3 yards over our heads.. I thought it had killed my grandma and i have (still to this day) NEVER seen my dad jump so far and so fast in my life. We got the noise before we could see the plane and they were sonic booming us big time!) After that, the city decided that there would be no more of that. The fun thursday play day free for all was OVER. It was still a free day, but they had distances that they had to fly above and under the bridges was OUT. (if i see a plane fly under a bridge this weekend, it will be absolute proof that money is the only thing talking with this admin.). They also could not go more than so many mocks fast. No right overhead sonic booms unless it was part of the routines. That was the last time i have seen a plane fly under the bridge or fly that low that fast. They decided it was just too distracting and dangerous and nicked it. Put down the rules.
4. Thursday night you can see the Blue Angles doing their serious plotting and surveying in the night sky for their routine for the following 3 days.
5. Friday (i like to see it as a locals performance) they do their routine like it was the show. If you are a local and you love (you either love or hate the Blue Angels. I personally have always loved them!) them, Friday is the day to go over to TI or Twin Peaks and watch the show without all the crowds and traffic. It is the exact same routine that they do for the masses on Saturday and Sunday.
6. Saturday and Sunday, they fly on time every time and do the routine that was seen on Friday.
7. Monday (always having been labor day) there are no planes flying but Fleet Week is in full effect still. Good time to go see the Jeremiah O’Brian or one of the big ships that have come for the event.
And, let me note, there are usually between 4-7 f16’s that fly in the Blue Angels each year during fleet week. There are also a bunch of other planes that have performances here too. Old ww2 prop planes, little rocket type jets that Red Bull uses in their air races (they have a course usually over the water that they have to fly around this flag and over to that one etc. and it is timed. They are small and super fast and extremely maneuverable. Like little rice rockets!) as well as sometimes Fat Albert, the big WW2 transport jet (i personally LOVE Fat Albert!). So, the F16’s are by far not the only airplanes in SF to fly, but they are the dominating strength that is felt by the people on the ground.
So, how is this year different? I will tell you how. Mayor Ed Lee decided to cash in on this event and use it as a lure and a perk when negotiating the bringing over of all of these big tech firms. I am sure of it!
To start, instead of coming in on Wed. night like always, this year, on the Sunday night BEFORE Labor Day, our skies were FILLED with planes. (normally this is the night that the planes are leaving to go back to wherever they came from.)
I counted close to at the very minimum, 20 planes flying low and slow and clearly with no rules over the sky. The planes were EVERYWHERE that night. Because it was not Fleet Week, i did not realize that the next day was even labor day. I kinda got freaked out and relieved when i heard it was going to be Fleet Week the coming week. (by the way, this night happened to be an incredible blue (full) moon).
I heard them flying up until 4:00am. This is unusual. ESPECIALLY 3 whole days before they always have arrived! and every night and day infact since Sunday night, the planes have been all over the SF skies.
The following night, after it cooled down (it was 91 deg. f. in SF that day. It was squelching!) i went for my hike up and around Bernal Hill. During that walk, it all came together for me. I know why what has worked like clockwork… a well oiled machine had fallen so far outside their usual doings. It all came back to our horrible mayor Ed Lee (who shouldnt even be mayor because when he was appointed by Gavin Newsome, he had repeatedly said (yes even promised!) that he was not going to try and run for Mayor. Right before the election (and may i note, after the other candidates had been spending their budgets on their campaigns, in comes Lee with the deep pockets of Rose Pak and former (lets just call it as it really is… STILL our mayor but from behind the curtain) Willie Brown to “power campaign” for him over the last 2 weeks. Somehow, he cut in line and won the post.) (However, although not reported, i heard a LOT of incidents that could have definitely been considered voter fraud, from having workers telling the voters who to vote for to losing ballots. If he wasnt being placed from the inside or it was any of the other candidates, there would have been an investigation i am sure of it! I personally did my own little test and in asking, i found NOT 1 SF resident that actually voted for Lee.)
Anyway, Brown is well known as being Super corrupt and selling out SF. He did this yes, however, he did it with some flair and style. He was personable and made it feel like he was working for you not just having his back pocket wide open and filling (although everyone knows that his pocket was getting stuffed. EVERYONE!) It is kinda part of his legacy.
Mayor Lee is trying to be Willie with the chrisma of a grapefruit. It is a total “pay to play” administration. And Ed Lee, has been getting PAID. The only thing he seems to have time to do since obtaining office seems to be funneling money into his pockets. He has made just about as many backroom sweetheart deals (selling to the highest bidder of course!) so far in his term than Brown did in an entire term during his reign.
Who know what was put on the table as an incentive to companies like Twitter, AirBnB, Zynga etc. to talk them into moving their headquarters to SF, but as of this weekend, i am able to see one of the incentives…. Full moon city flights with full access to all of the airspace over SF. a whole week before Fleet Week as well as the same week as Oracle’s anual big trade show or party or whatever it is. I also heard that Cloud had a conference this week. It makes sense.
I imagine that a few of those planes up there flying on our tax dollars also contained a few big campaign contributers since it is after all an election year.
Why push back fleet week a week? Just for that reason… full moon, holiday weekend, 2 major tech events happening in the city between the Sunday night flights and the Saturday daytime air show. There are some big heavy pay off’s being handed out this week. I can feel the corruption bubbling out of the city this week.
So, to finally answer the question i posed earlier, after 18 years of Fleet Week being a clockwork routine, why this year is it not the usual… Because it is part of the political ass kissing and back pocket revenu building the mayor has created to help sell out the soul of the city while he gets rich and probably powerful.
At least when Willie Brown was fleecing the city, he did it looking super suave! Lee is a plain, dumpy, not very well spoken, want-a-be. However regardless of his less than minimal people skills to his public and his unmatching disheveled appearance, he seems to be siphoning off the hard earned tax dollars and political pay outs with ease.
(Considering how much of his own pocket he has lined since his short time as our pathetic soulless mayor, he could at least get a decent looking tie and a haircut!)
I now am watching the skys with more than just how cool the planes are in my mind. I am seeing the outcome of some of the perks that he gave out in order to appear to be amazing at brokering big tech to set up shop at our house of SF. So, they bring in tax money to help replace all the loot he has spent making it feel like SF is the Google of employers with slides and everything! (Slides that slide our hard earned cash into his personal coffers!)
Anyway, i hope all of this BS ass kissing has not effected the focus of the air squads. I know that our Blue Angels have had to do more this year away from their own performance to assist with these deals. Lets just hope that they have not filled their week with so much other bullshit that something goes wrong because there was just too much distraction going on up above our heads!
I will just have to wait and watch and hold my breath which is really more like steam because i am so angry about the state of our elected politicians, and hope that there is nothing that goes wrong. (i know technically it already has, but this time i mean an accident.).