FLEET WEEK SCHEDULE: Click here for the full schedule of events
Lt. Matt Suyderhoud, a 33-year-old pilot with the Blue Angels, still remembers the phone call from when he made the cut. His twin brother, also an F-18 pilot, was there.
"He grabbed me and my brother was pouring water on my head, it was just nuts. And then the first person I called was my mom and I said 'Mom, I'm going to be a Blue Angel,' and she started crying," said Suyderhoud with a laugh.
He was just 3 years old when he met a pilot of a Blue Angel. And now he has one of his own
"Her name is Holly," he said. "Every little sound I know, oh that's not right, or she's running great today. She's my baby!"
Being up there is like nothing else
"The first show I remember not sleeping very much," he said. "I got up early and went for a jog, I just had to clear my mind."
But being in the air is like an intense 45 min workout. He says in San Francisco, it's about looking down at the ground. He says he can see you from up there.
"You look down and see people, flying an F-18, and I almost wish I could talk to those people and tell them how excited I am," said Suyderhoud.
For Fleet Week there's a first this year -- you can catch the Blue Angels not only on Saturday and Sunday from 12:30 p.m. to 4 p.m., but also on Friday.
Another first -- a female pilot is flying for the Blue Angels. Katie Higgins says it's not about breaking any barriers. She just wanted to fly the C-130 named Fat Albert
"I am proud!" said World War II veteran Bill Evans.
Proud and there to witness every moment. Evans was just 17 when the war started. Now at 89, he wants these pilots to know he's there for them.
"I want them to know people like me are supporting them," he said.
San Francisco's Fleet Week is the largest and most significant event of its kind in the nation. There's a unique training and education component that brings together civilian and military forces to not only develop, but also share best practices in humanitarian assistance, and emergency disaster response.
For full coverage on Fleet Week, click here.