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A San Francisco lawmaker has had enough of the Blue Angels ‘strafing’ his city

The Blue Angels perform during the San Francisco Fleet Week 2014 air show. (Video: U.S. Marine Corps)

A San Francisco lawmaker has revived a proposal following the crash of a Blue Angels jet last week: It’s time, he said, to ban the renowned Navy squadron from flying over his city.

John Avalos, a member of the board of supervisors, told the San Francisco Chronicle that the jets are a threat to safety and should not be allowed to fly over occupied areas. Rather, he said, they should be kept over San Francisco Bay, where sea vessels typically congregate for Blue Angels performances.

In bizarre coincidence, a Blue Angels F-18 and a Thunderbirds F-16 crash on same day

“It’s about them crashing and hitting a building — a place where people live,” Avalos told the Chronicle. “It’s about the terror that they cause in people when they strafe neighborhoods. That’s something I hear about all the time when Blue Angels fly overhead.”

Avalos misused the term “strafing,” which is typically used to describe when pilots are flying their aircraft low to the ground, firing at targets while using machine guns or rotary cannons. He did not return requests for an interview Monday morning, but took to Twitter over the weekend to double down on his comments, saying there are many San Francisco citizens who don’t want the planes.

Avalos has raised the issue before. Last fall, he said a Blue Angels performance over San Francisco reminded him of U.S. “imperialism.” The planes, he said, buzz San Francisco with “feel good jingoism.” He also appeared to allude to the Pentagon budget, which was estimated at $560 billion in fiscal 2015 and $585 billion this year.

Avalos, a former progressive candidate for mayor, is not the first to raise questions about the elite demonstration squadrons like the Blue Angels and the Air Force’s Thunderbirds. Both squadrons have historically had budgets of about $35 million per year, prompting some critics to raise questions about whether they are worth the cost.

The squadrons also occasionally have deadly mishaps. The crash Thursday killed Marine Capt. Jeff Kuss, 32, shortly after he took off from an airport in Smyrna, Tenn. His aircraft went down about two miles from the runway during preparations for the Great Tennessee Air Show over the weekend.

Another crash occurred the same day in Colorado in the Thunderbirds, which were performing as part of the commencement ceremony at the Air Force Academy. In that case, the pilot, Maj. Alex Turner, was not hurt and put his plane down in an open field after avoiding homes, military officials said.

Avalos did not explain his opposition to the highly trained Blue Angels as compared to other military aircraft squadrons. There are several military installations in the San Francisco area, including Moffett Federal Airfield, a former Navy base that is now used by NASA, the California Air National Guard and other tenants.

The Blue Angels fly over San Francisco as part of Fleet Week, an annual outreach event that attracts about 1 million people per year to the city. Similar events are held in other cities, including New York.

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