Blue Angels Shatter Quiet Skies

We begged 'em to come back. But the ear-shattering return of the Blue Angels has irked some Seattle residents.

Dozens of complaints about the low-flying F/A-18 Hornets ripping the sky through downtown Seattle and over Elliott Bay yesterday afternoon as they practiced maneuvers poured into Seafair headquarters and the Seattle Police Department.

Too loud. Triggering car alarms. Scaring animals. "Typical whining," said a police dispatcher, explaining that the calls are a yearly event.

No, a Seafair official said, the roaring pack of planes was not flying lower than usual. They were skimming the area just as they have in the past, spokesman Ryan Post said.

The pilots were running through their high- and low-altitude maneuvers to "get visual bearings," he said. Not all of the pilots have flown here before.

"We listen to the concern (about the noise), we apologize, we log it in our book," Post said.

Today, the Blue Angels were to practice from 2:45 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. The city, concerned that the jets might distract drivers and create safety concerns, will close the Alaskan Way viaduct's north, or upper deck lanes during the practice session.

The northbound lanes also will be closed tomorrow and Sunday during the flights, which are scheduled for the same times, according to the Seattle Engineering Department

Residents may simply have forgotten, during the Blue Angels' two-year absence from Seafair, just how loud a squadron of jets can be.

The FAA has allowed the Blue Angels to return for the weekend's performance, but only over Elliott Bay.

As in the past, the Blue Angels obtained a permit to fly as low as 200 feet as long as they're not doing aerobatics.

When they're flying low near buildings, they have to cruise at least 1,000 feet away from the structure.