SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) – The Blue Angels, the Navy’s precision flight demonstration team, were set to conduct practice flights on Thursday and Friday ahead of the air shows scheduled for Saturday and Sunday afternoons during the annual Fleet Week celebrations.

Fleet Week brings together the U.S. Navy, Marine Corp and Coast Guard to offer air shows, ship tours, a parade and festivals. This year, the military pilots will share the sky with their Canadian Forces counterparts, the Snowbirds.

The air shows were scheduled for 12:30 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, weather permitting.

PHOTOS: The Blue Angels In Flight

On Wednesday, San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee invited Fleet Week Chairman Maj. Gen. Michael Myatt to City Hall to mark the official beginning of Fleet Week.

”San Francisco has always been a town that has honored its military, and all of its women and men who serve in uniform,” said Lee.

KCBS’ Barbara Taylor Reports:

”Thank you for your support of this Fleet Week,” said Myatt. “It’s going to be one of the biggest ever.”

Approximately 10,000 military service members and nearly a million air-show spectators were expected to flock to San Francisco for this year’s events, which mark the 30th anniversary of Fleet Week’s current form.

The expanded festivities to honor the men and women in the naval services began in 1981, under then-Mayor Dianne Feinstein. This year’s events mark another milestone in naval history — the 100th anniversary of naval aviation. On Jan. 18, 1911, Eugene Ely took off in a biplane from San Bruno and landed the aircraft aboard the USS Pennsylvania, which had been anchored in San Francisco Bay, marking the earliest demonstration that planes could land on ships at sea.

Ships were expected to arrive through the Golden Gate on Saturday morning and will berth along the city’s northern waterfront for the remainder of their visit, which concludes Tuesday.

According to the San Francisco Fleet Week Association, the nonprofit organization coordinating the festivities, this year’s Fleet Week will also focus on disaster response preparations.

(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

  1. A Big Salute says:

    Welcome to all the men and women in the Armed Forces, we thank you for all you do to protect us……..

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