Blue Angels make presence known with practice session over San Francisco

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- From the Financial District to the Embarcadero to Crissy Field, the rock stars of Fleet Week made their presence felt Thursday afternoon. It was just a rehearsal for the Blue Angels, but people were mesmerized anyway.

The unmistakable roar of the twin jet engines echoed through San Francisco Thursday. That means even before you see them, you know the Blue Angels are nearby -- and nothing sounds quite as impressive as a quartet of jet fighters passing overhead.

SCHEDULE: SF Fleet Week 2018

"I think it's just stunning: the precision and also the sound," according to Carol McKevitt, who was taking a walk during her lunch break.

Her walking partner, Mary Padilla, added, "It's exciting to see them and hear them and, as you mentioned, the formations and to see them in close proximity."

How close? We asked one of the pilots.

"In the diamond (formation), Blue Angels 1-4, we'll get as close as 18 inches wingtip to canopy separation. And what that really takes is a lot of teamwork, a lot of practice, but really a lot of trust."

At 400 miles per hour, that's an understatement.

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Thousands of spectators are heading to San Francisco's waterfront to grab a spot for the Fleet Week Airshow, with the amazing Blue Angels as the star attraction.

Lt.Commander Damon Kroes flies Blue Angel number 2, about a foot and a half off the leader's right wing. He's a Fremont native and is excited about performing in front of the home crowd.

"I grew up coming here and watching the Blue Angels almost every year from Fort Point, and it was part of what inspired me to want to serve my country and fly Navy aircraft," he said

These F-18 Hornets -- as high-tech as they are -- are among the oldest in the fleet, and that requires extra maintenance.

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Petty Officer 2nd class Janet Madrigal of Brentwood helps keep them flying. She remembers seeing the Blues perform at the 2010 Fleet Week and deciding to join the Navy afterwards.

"Being here is just overwhelming and it brings me, eight years later. It's just an overwhelming experience," she said.

Find full coverage on Fleet Week here.

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