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Blue Angels promise a louder post-COVID air show

The U.S. Navy’s Blue Angels had to pass up their traditional Seafair air show in Seattle last year due to the coronavirus pandemic, but assuming the all-clear is given, they promise to come roaring back this August.

Literally.

This will be the first year that the Blue Angels do their aerobatic act with F/A-18 Super Hornets instead of the “legacy” Hornets that the team has used for 34 years. The shift is the result of a transition that’s been years in the making.

When it comes to power, the Boeing-built Super Hornets are … well, super.

“With the Super Hornet, the show will definitely be audibly louder, because the jet itself produces more thrust,” Lt. Julius Bratton, who serves as the team’s narrator and No. 7 pilot, explained today during a Zoom video conference with reporters. “The Super Hornet has about 42,000 pounds of thrust in full afterburner, whereas the legacy Hornet that we previously flew had about 32,000 pounds of thrust.”

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There’s a new twist in Blue Angels’ air show

The sights and sounds of the Blue Angels flying their aerobatic fighter jets through August skies are a Seattle tradition – but this weekend, there are a few new twists.

The biggest twist in the Boeing Seafair Air Show takes place on the ground rather than in the air: The I-90 floating bridge is no longer being closed for the Blue Angels’ hour-long demonstrations on Aug. 2, 3 and 4.

To minimize disruption to light-rail construction work on the bridge, the flight path for the air show over Lake Washington has been moved slightly south. That means the bridge is now outside the Federal Aviation Administration’s safety zone, known as “the box,” and traffic no longer needs to be halted. That also means spectators will no longer be allowed to stop and gawk from the bridge.

“Pedestrians and cyclists will be able to access the bridge’s pathway for the duration of the flights. However, it may not be used for stopping and viewing the Blue Angels. The path is a heavily used route for commuters and should be viewed similarly to a roadway,” the Washington State Department of Transportation says in an advisory.

State patrol officers will be monitoring traffic to make sure motorists don’t stop to watch the show. And it goes without saying that drivers should keep their eyes on the road rather than trying to snap a smartphone picture while they’re at the wheel. That’s what passengers are for.

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Fat Albert rejoins the Blue Angels air show

Fat Albert
Fat Albert buzzes the Space Needle during 2015’s Seafair air show. (GeekWire Photo / Kevin Lisota)

Hey, hey, hey … it’s Fat Albert, in the skies over Seattle: We’re not talking about the jumbo-sized character created by comedian Bill Cosby back in the day, but the C-130T transport plane that’s back in its place among the Navy’s Blue Angels for Seafair Weekend’s Boeing Air Show.

Fat Albert may not be as sleek as the six F/A-18 Hornets that will be executing fancy aerobatic moves over Lake Washington this weekend. But as far as Marine Maj. Mark Montgomery is concerned, that just means there’s more to love.

“These planes are kind of like a pickup truck,” said Montgomery, who pilots Fat Albert as it travels from air show to air show. “They do everything, and they’re very reliable.”

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How to get into (or get away from) Seafair

Oh Boy! Oberto
The U-16 Oh Boy! Oberto hydroplane raceboat is ready to compete in the Albert Lee Appliance Seafair Cup on Lake Washington this weekend. (GeekWire Photo / Kevin Lisota)

Wouldn’t you know it? The streams of smoke wafting south from wildfires in British Columbia are turning the skies a Seattle shade of gray as we head into Seafair Weekend, one of the region’s biggest summer festivals.

The haze could have an impact on the Blue Angels’ aerial demonstration, but if you’re a fan of loud planes and loud boats, there’ll be plenty of both.

And if you’re not a fan, there are plenty of opportunities to enjoy somewhat quieter pursuits. Here’s a six-point guide to Seafair Weekend:

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