BlueAngel.jpgFlight crews arrived today at San Francisco International Airport in preparation for the city’s annual Fleet Week air show, which officially launches Thursday and runs through Oct. 12.

The week will be filled with free activities including Blue Angels air shows, Pier 39 concerts, a parade of ships and ship tours.

“It’s such a Bay Area tradition,” Fleet Week spokeswoman Mary Hickey said. “It’s a sign of fall.”

This year’s highlights include a focus on disaster preparedness and the Navy’s “green ship,” a hybrid vessel that runs on both gas and electricity.

The 840-foot long USS Makin Island, an amphibious aircraft carrier, is the first military hybrid vessel.

“It’s the most environmentally aware, energy efficient Naval ship in the world,” Fleet Week spokesman David Perry said. “We’re pretty excited about it.”

The USS Makin Island uses a gas turbine engine and an electrically powered auxiliary propulsion motor. It is most fuel efficient at speeds above 12 knots.

Perry said the ship utilizes cutting-edge technology, and that this type of ship is the way of the future.

This year, hundreds of sailors and Marines will participate in emergency preparedness training alongside members of the City’s CERT, or Community Emergency Preparedness Teams, and NERT, or Neighborhood Emergency Response Teams, groups.

“The ongoing mission of Fleet Week is to encourage emergency preparedness,” Perry said.

Fleet Week also serves to raise awareness for recruiting purposes and is an opportunity to honor those in the military, Hickey said.

“It reminds us of the liberty that we do have in this country,” she said.

Hickey also said that Fleet Week is an opportunity for people to be entertained and have a good time. An estimated 1 million people watch the air shows, she said.

Parking in the area will be extremely limited. Attendees are strongly advised to take public transportation, bicycle or taxi.

The Fleet Week festival will begin Thursday, when the Blue Angels will conduct survey flights from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. along the Marina Green.

Fleet Week events are open to the public and are generally free, although premium tickets are available.

Premium tickets, which include seated areas and VIP catering, cost $35 to $150 and can be purchased by calling 805-684-0155, ext 46 or by visiting

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