Stunt pilots back in the sky

Don’t be startled by the roar of engines overhead this afternoon — it’s just the Blue Angels.

The Navy’s flight demonstration team will kick off San Francisco’s 29th annual Fleet Week — which officially starts Thursday — by flying over the opening ceremonies for The Presidents Cup about 4:25 p.m.

The Blue Angels, famous for flying spectacular aerial stunts in fighter jets, perform to show off the capacity of the military’s aerial muscle and to enhance its recruiting efforts, according to the Navy.

The team will practice its moves over San Francisco’s skyline Thursday and Friday and will perform at 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

Today, the Angels will fly over Harding Park Golf Course immediately after the national anthem at the golf event’s opening ceremony, Presidents Cup Executive Director Tom Clark said.

Mayor Gavin Newsom, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and President George H.W. Bush are expected to attend, according to Clark, who would not confirm reports that President Barack Obama will also be among the dignitaries at the high-profile event.

Flight team leader Cmdr. Greg McWherter donned his blue and gold uniform to visit City Hall on Tuesday for a news conference held by Newsom regarding Fleet Week.

The two-day armed forces celebration — which brings together the Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard for air shows, ship tours and other festivities — costs about $500,000 to present. It is primarily funded by private sponsors and donations from the Port of San Francisco and other entities.

Newsom said more than 1.2 million people will watch the air show on Saturday and Sunday from the waterfront, and many more will watch from yards and rooftops. He said the event is “a huge boon to our local economy,” bringing in “millions and millions” of dollars.

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