Update, 5 p.m.: Stephen Teatro, the executive producer of the Air Show Network, tells SF Weekly that there will be "No air show whatsoever in 2013. Other events will still be planned, just not as much in the past."
Callers to the San Francisco Fleet Week Information line this morning are instructed "If you're calling with a concern about noise, please leave a message at the end of this recording."
Suddenly, that's not such a pressing issue.
The U.S. Navy today announced that, thanks to mandatory budget cuts triggered by sequestration, the Blue Angels flight team will be grounded for the rest of 2013. So, come Oct. 12-13, there will be a dearth of window-rattling, flashback-inducing, eardrum-melting feats of aeronautical skill in our fair city.
That's not to say identified flying objects won't be soaring over San Francisco. Showing up for Fleet Week and missing out on the Blue Angels is a bit like missing the Beatles on Ed Sullivan and catching Señor Wences. But the bill still boasts Sean D. Tucker & Team Oracle, Lucas Oil Pitts & Michael Wiskus; the Patriots Jet Team; a U.S. Navy F-18 Super Hornet (no word on whether sequestration grounded that, too); and, the most commonplace yet disturbing flyover of the day, a United Airlines 747.
(While the notion of running to the waterfront to watch a 747 fly overhead seems somewhat like going to the zoo to see dogs and cats, it's actually far more unnerving to watch a jumbo jet soar over at low speeds than to observe zippy jets cavort through the sky. If you enjoy heart palpitations, this is the flyover for you).
Neither the Mayor's Office of Economic and Workforce Development nor SFTravel had numbers handy for the purported impact of Fleet Week on San Francisco. One should be wary of dollar figures bandied about by interested parties regarding large events -- but it figures the waterfront pedicab drivers, at least, are going to be pedaling less this year.
Messages were left on Fleet Week's line. It is not certain if the non-Blue Angels portion of the air show will definitely take place.
If Fleet Week is drastically downsized or sails off completely, it'll be a sad end to a longstanding San Francisco tradition. City natives recall being let out of school to watch the planes. Women of a certain age recall being propositioned by men whose line of business was to line up "dates" for the arriving seamen. A fighter jet overhead, a beach chair below, and a beer in the middle seems like a pretty ideal way to spend a weekend.
On the other hand, needlessly burning vast quantities of fuel, horrifying elderly war survivors and animals, and always running the risk of a massive flying machine immolating an entire neighborhood would be hard to explain post-disaster.
One way or another, perhaps we'll never have to.