Vote is up to ground Blue Angels in S.F.

The annual flyover of the U.S. Navy’s Blue Angels sinks millions into the local economy and draws a million spectators, but one supervisor wants to stop these fighter planes from ever soaring through the skies over San Francisco again.

The Blue Angels, a team of Navy fighter pilots, fly over San Francisco during Fleet Week, which this year is scheduled for Oct. 4 through Oct. 9. For four of the six days, the flashy blue planes soar through the skies at speeds reaching 700 miles per hour, and perform maneuvers such as vertical rolls.

Today, the Board of Supervisors Government Audit and Oversight Committee will vote on a nonbinding resolution introduced by Supervisor Chris Daly that would call on San Francisco’s congressional representatives, including Sens. Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein, to “use all resources at their disposal to bring a permanent halt to unnecessary flyovers by military aircraft.”

If sent out of committee, the full board will vote on it Tuesday.

Daly drafted the resolution with three peace advocacy groups — CodePink, Global Exchange and Veterans for Peace, Chapter 69 — because, he says, the flyovers pose a public safety risk. During the last 60 years, Blue Angel air shows held elsewhere in the nation have resulted in 26 fatalities, including the most recent crash during an April air show in Beaufort County, S.C., when a Blue Angel pilot crashed, killing himself and injuring eight people on the ground, according to the resolution. The resolution also says that veterans of war “are at risk of being traumatized,” that the loud roars from the jets “terrorize small children, seniors, pets and local wildlife,” and that the jet fuel used harms the environment.

Daly, however, will have a difficult time securing support from his colleagues to send the resolution to the full board for a vote.

The two supervisors who sit on the three-member committee with Daly said Friday that they will not send the resolution to the full board.

“[The Blue Angels] are just fantastic. I look forward to them every October and I certainly do not support in any way Chris’ resolution,” Supervisor Sean Elsbernd said.

“I’d love to see the statistics of car crashes on 19th Avenue versus Blue Angels. Should we shut down 19th Avenue to all vehicular traffic?” Elsbernd said.

“There is no way I am going to send this forward,” Supervisor Michela Alioto-Pier said. “We should be proud of our American forces, particularly when we have soldiers fighting in Iraq. I think it’s insulting to them and everything that they’ve done for us,” she added.

Fleet Week attracts about 1 million people to The City’s waterfront and sinks about $4 million into The City’s economy, according to Edward Leonard, chairman of San Francisco Fleet Week. When the Blue Angels did not fly over San Francisco in 2004, attendance and revenue dropped by more than 50 percent, he said.

jsabatini@examiner.com


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