Blue Angels

Last week (by the time this is posted) was graduation week at the US Naval Academy. Highlights of the week include Midshipmen passing out on the parade field, traffic out the wazoo in downtown Annapolis (DTA to you cool kids), astonishing feats of fast-paced horticulture by the Naval Academy grounds team, and of course the Blue Angels flight demonstration. Ian had the day off and I continue to be unemployed so we went to go see the show.

Earlier that morning I had “business” in Annapolis and when I was driving back over the Naval Academy Bridge at 0930 there were already people in lawn chairs awaiting the 2 o’clock show. But Ian and I were only up to make half a day of it, so we set out at 11 with plans to get lunch. We made it in relatively short order and enjoyed a walk from the Naval Academy Stadium (where we parked) into downtown.

Our destination for lunch was the Naval Academy’s world-famous Drydock Restaurant. Drydock is my favorite pizza place. They also, as their website notes, serve sandwiches, but I’m always there for the pizza. The secret ingredient is nostalgia. I go for two slices of sausage with a soda. I had to fight for them today with the massive crowd and line extending out into the lobby, but it was worth it. Totally worth it.

Fueled up, Ian and I headed out to Hospital Point on the Naval Academy. It was quite crowded. The place had a pretty good party atmosphere, with the Naval Academy Band doing their best covers of 80s rock songs and the multitudes spreading out blankets and lining up at the snow cone trucks. I will take this moment to observe that in front of the eponymous hospital (now a clinic) is a graveyard. While I admire the Navy-like efficiency of putting the graveyard right next to and in front of their hospital, it doesn’t speak volumes to your customer satisfaction, does it?

The show started promptly at two. “Fat Albert” does the first fly-by as the warm-up act. It strikes me that the name “Fat Albert” is a little insensitive, I mean body shaming much? But Fat Albert’s act includes flying from left to right, flying from right to left, starting down low and going up high, and starting up high and going down low. During this part I was preoccupied by taking pictures of the YP that was tooling around the river, and especially trying to take pictures of the YP and Fat Albert together.

Eventually Fat Albert flew off and then the real show began. The Angels started off flying all together in a diamond formation, but then planes #5 and #6 broke off in a dramatic fashion while #1-4 continued to fly close together and do turns and stuff. #5 and #6 then spent most of the rest of the show playing chicken with each other, doing dramatic (and slightly rude, if you had asked my then very surprised self) flybys of the crowd, and at one point doing a slow flight demonstration. This raised several questions for me. First, how do #5 and #6 feel about all this? #1-4 are all like “Hey guys we’re just going to do normal stuff but kind of close together, but we want you guys to fly at each other real fast and turn away and just the last second so you don’t die.” Then after all that is settled #1-4 go “And you know how the most fun part is flying really fast? Well while we’re busy flying fast we want you guys to fly as slow as you possibly can.” Are #5 and #6 in trouble? Did they do anything bad?

But the show was pretty alright. The Blue Angels replayed some of the Fat Albert routine, like flying both low and high and flying from the left and flying from the right. But they also mixed in some loop-de-loops and some fleur-de-lis things and more flying close together and then some flying not so close together. People clapped. Birds flew around somewhat nonplussed. The YP continued to tool around, enjoying the view. After an hour the show was over though it was a little hard to tell when the finale was; I think they should have shot off a whole bunch of planes at once all rapid-fire. Our desire for jet noise satisfied, Ian and I stopped for slurpees on the way home to finish out the day.