The U.S. Navy’s Blue Angels arrived in San Francisco this morning and the team’s commander joined Mayor Gavin Newsom to kick off the annual celebration of the country’s air and naval armed forces.

This year’s Fleet Week runs from Thursday through Sunday, and features demonstrations and tours from members of the U.S. Navy, Marine Corps, U.S. Air Force and Coast Guard. A two-day air show over the weekend will feature the Blue Angels, the Navy’s precision flight squadron.

Speaking at a news conference this afternoon, Blue Angels Cmdr. Greg McWherter said this is his first year flying in San Francisco. As the team flew up the coastline this morning, they were treated to some stellar views of Alcatraz and the Golden Gate Bridge, he said. Other cities his team visits are “a little bit more flat,” he said.

“We’re excited about four great days of flying here in your city,” he said.

McWherter said the Blue Angels also hope to recruit a few onlookers who “get inspired by what we’re doing.”

The demonstration squadron will conduct practice flights on Thursday and Friday. When asked if the Blue Angels will fly over the Presidents Cup golf competition also being held this weekend in Harding Park, Newsom said “It’s rumored. It can’t be confirmed or denied.”
Fleet Week chairman Ed Leonard added, “Not during the competition though. That’s not a rumor.”

Newsom said he expects 1.2 million people to attend Fleet Week, along with “arguably hundreds of thousands more in backyards and rooftops.”

First-time sponsor CVS/pharmacy will be offering free rides on all F-line Muni trains Saturday and Sunday.

With Fleet Week, the Presidents Cup and other events converging on San Francisco, Newsom said “October is a huge month for the city, even by historic standards.”

He said these events, plus wine and neighborhood festivals, Sunday’s Columbus Day parade, 49ers games and Oracle’s major corporate conference form a “constellation of events” he has never experienced in his time as an elected official.

Corporate sponsorships cover most of the event’s $500,000 cost, Leonard said.

Fleet Week dates back to 1908, but was installed as an annual event by former mayor Dianne Feinstein in 1981. A complete listing of Fleet Week events can be found at www.fleetweek.us.

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  • raqcoon

    OK, thanks for warning SF that it’s going to be a patriotic zoo this weekend, followed by last weekend’s multi-major-event fiasco and traffic jams. Obviously fiasco and traffic jams are again slated. Might be a good time to take a weekend road trip.

    Have fun watching the Angels and make sure you visit your recruiter first thing Tuesday.