Plan to Ban Navy’s Blue Angels Shot Down in San Francisco

August 14th, 2007 - by admin

Wyatt Buchanan / The Chronicle & Bonnie Eslinger / The Examiner< - 2007-08-14 22:21:42 Measure Banning Blue Angels from San Francisco Skies Is Rejected
Wyatt Buchanan / San Francisco Chronicle

(August 14, 2007) — San Francisco’s skies are safe for the Blue Angels. A Board of Supervisors committee Monday rejected a measure that would have called for a permanent end to the high-flying, aerobatic show that happens yearly during Fleet Week.

The committee voted 2-1 to table the measure, authored by Supervisor Chris Daly, effectively killing it. But Daly, who cited public safety and noise concerns as his reasons for proposing the ban, promised to continue pushing it.

“We’ve been lucky here in San Francisco,” Daly said, noting that 26 crew members have died in incidents since 1946 when the Navy formed the flight demonstration team.

In April, a Blue Angel F/A-18 Hornet jet crashed during a performance in Beaufort, S.C., killing the pilot, injuring eight people and damaging several homes.

“Think about what would happen if there was a crash in San Francisco. Obviously, there would be significant loss of life beyond losing a pilot,” said Daly, who added that the crash in South Carolina prompted him to seek the ban.

But the other members of the Government Audit and Oversight Committee — supervisors Sean Elsbernd and Michela Alioto-Pier — were not convinced, saying that the measure failed to account for the economic impact of visitors who come specifically for the show and noted that no one with expertise about the risks of the event testified at the hearing.

“(The measure) is a little fly-by-night, ‘let’s do this because we think it might not be safe,’ ” said Alioto-Pier, who said she was contacted by hundreds of city residents on the issue and most wanted the Blue Angels to stay.

A spokesman for the Navy said the Federal Aviation Administration consults with the Blue Angels on every show about the potential risks of performing certain maneuvers. The Blue Angels perform the same routine at every location, with variations depending only on clouds.

“The simple fact of the matter is we will not go to a show site if that site does not conform” to the routine, said Lt. Sean Robertson, spokesman for the Chief of Naval Air Training. “Safety is a primary concern for the Blue Angels.”

Daly’s resolution also raised concern over the noise created by the roaring jets, stating that the jets “terrorize small children, seniors, pets and local wildlife” and war veterans who may suffer from post traumatic stress disorder.

Steve Noetzel, a San Francisco resident who served in Vietnam, said the show masks the grim reality of warfare.

“The graceful, swooping dives we see in the air show in San Francisco do not represent what really happens and what these craft are really for,” Noetzel said.

But others who support the show said passing the measure would be to insult military service members. They said the city already has a record of not supporting the military, including votes against bringing the battleship Iowa to the bay and ending ROTC programs in schools.

“The city sunk the USS Iowa, killed Junior ROTC and now you want to shoot down the Blue Angels. This is just another nail in the coffin of patriotism in this city,” said Wallace Levin, a retired lieutenant colonel with the California State Military Reserve and a member of the city’s Veterans’ Affairs Commission.

If Daly can persuade three other supervisors to support him, he can move the measure to the full Board of Supervisors for a vote, which would likely happen in the fall after the supervisors’ summer break that begins this week.

Mayor Gavin Newsom said he supports keeping the Blue Angels show in San Francisco. The commission for the Port of San Francisco also passed a unanimous resolution supporting the show.

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Blue Angels Ban Effort Isn’t Over, SF Supe Says
Bonnie Eslinger / The Examiner

SAN FRANCISCO (August 14, 2007) — The fight over the US Navy Blue Angels’ multi-day flyover will continue, Supervisor Chris Daly vowed Monday, after his efforts to ground the fighter planes during Fleet Week was put on hold.

The nonbinding resolution to ban the aerial show due to safety concerns was tabled by Supervisors Michela Alioto-Pier and Sean Elsbernd during a committee hearing.

Daly told The Examiner that he was working to get three other supervisors to support the resolution and allow him to pull it out of committee for a vote before the full board. Because the board will be taking a recess for the remainder of the month, after today’s meeting, the resolution will not come up again until September.

At Monday’s meeting, Daly said he drafted the nonbinding resolution in response to a fatal crash that occurred during a Blue Angels air show in April in Beaufort County, SC, in which the pilot of the jet crashed, injuring eight people on the ground. During the last 60 years, Blue Angel air shows held elsewhere in the nation have resulted in 26 fatalities, four within the last 22 years.

The District 6 supervisor wrote the resolution with three peace advocacy groups: CodePink, Global Exchange and the local chapter of Veterans for Peace. It also charges that the thunderous sound of the Blue Angels flying overhead puts veterans of war “at risk of being traumatized,” and that the jet fuel that is burned harms the environment.

Supporters of the event say it honors the military and veterans of the armed forces and is the highlight of San Francisco’s Fleet Week celebration, this year scheduled for October 4 through October 9. The event helps bring in millions of dollars into the local economy.

Monday afternoon, Mayor Gavin Newsom issued a statement in support of Fleet Week and the Blue Angels.

Examiner Staff Writer Joshua Sabatini contributed to this story.

Posted in accordance with Title 17, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.