Seafair 2011

Posted: Monday, August 08, 2011 by Travis Cody in

Seafair is a celebration of summer in the Puget Sound, featuring a calendar full of events in July and August every year.  Last week and over the weekend were three of my favorite events.

Fleet Week and the Parade of Ships

Every summer, Seattle welcomes and honors the men and women serving aboard ship in the United States Navy.  During Fleet Week, citizens can apply to ride on board the ships as they parade around Elliot Bay.  We can see the ships from our office windows.  We see ships from the US Navy, US Coast Guard, and the Canadian Navy.

This year was a real treat as the amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD-6) was the lead during the Annual Parade of Ships.  You can see it looks like a small aircraft carrier, but its mission is to land elements of its compliment of 1,894 Marine Corps amphibious assault forces by helicopter, landing craft, and amphibious transport.

The BHR carries 42 CH-46 Sea Knight helicopters, 5 AV-8B Harrier attack jets, and 6 ASW helicopters.  The CH-46s are for landing and retrieving Marines, the Harriers are to control the air space around the ship, and the ASW helicopters are for anti-submarine operations.  The ship itself is armed with 2 NATO Sea Sparrow systems, 2 Rolling Airframe Missile systems, 2 Phalanx CIWS, 3 25mm Mk 38 cannons, and 4 .50-cal M2HB machine guns.

Commissioned into active service in 1998, she is based out of San Diego and has deployed around the world since 2000.  Here's a better shot of her from the Wikipedia page.

And in case you wondered about her name, bonhomme is French for good in "Good man Richard" in honor of Benjamin Franklin.  The BHR's namesake is the frigate commanded by the foremost sailor in US naval history, John Paul Jones.  Her motto is "I have not yet begun to fight!"

The Boeing Air Show featuring the US Navy Blue Angels

Some would prefer that the Blue Angels not fly over Lake Washington because of safety concerns and noise levels.  To that I say ppppppfffffffffttttttttt!  It's exciting to see those shiny blue F/A-18 Hornets do their thing.

But it is dangerous.  Flying in the military is an inherently dangerous occupation.  Of the 262 pilots in Blue Angels history, air show or training accidents have killed 26.  There has never been an accident at Seafair.

When I was still working in Bellevue, our office building looked right out over Lake Washington and I could see the jets as they practiced.  One time, they flew right past our windows as they reset a formation.  They must have been no more than 200 feet away.  It was an awesome sight.  This photo from the Wikepedia page is pretty close to how I saw them that day.

We usually watch the airshow on TV so we can hear the commentary and see the formations.  They move so fast that sometimes you don't see it all.  But check it out...while we're watching on TV, we can here them over the lake!  We're only 3 miles from the shores of Lake Washington.

The Seafair Cup races

Hydroplanes!  Seattle has hosted the Albert Lee Cup since 1951 and it is the third oldest site for H1 Unlimited racing.  These boats are fast, skimming across the surface of Lake Washington at speeds in excess of 140mph.

We don't follow the racing season, so we don't know anything about the racers.  We do know that the Oberto boat and the Spirit of Qatar boat are generally the two fastest on the circuit.

What I find fascinating is that you can't paint lanes on the water but these boats are able to hold lanes as they race.  They race 6 boats in 3-lap heats to qualify for the final races.

There are so many other activities and lots of good food associated with Seafair in the Puget Sound area.  There's something going on practically every day, and the weekends are packed with things to do.  It can play havoc with traffic, but that's a small price to pay for having some summer fun.

Remember we're counting down the days to 4 November 2011 and the 8th Blog Blast for Peace with 100 reasons to Blog for Peace.

Reason 90:  Because I have a voice and this is one of the positive ways I can use it.

Reason 89:  Because I want to be who I am and cherish what I have and believe what I will, in peace with others who may be different and cherish different things and believe something I don't understand.

Reason 88:  Because revolutions are made of ideas and today's reality doesn't have to be tomorrow's.

Join the movement in November.  You know you want to.


  1. Anonymous says:

    oooh, that event looks like fun! I've never been to an air show or a Fleet week. That would be so exciting!

    have a great week to you and your lady. Hugs!

  1. I'm always amazed at those precision flying shows. Wow. So dangerous, though.

  1. Akelamalu says:

    What an exciting event!

  1. JohnH985 says:

    When I was a kid we lived on Navy bases most of the time, or close to them, so I saw the Blue Angels quite a few times. And I have to say I never tired of seeing them.

  1. Jeni says:

    I don't remember when or where but I do remember, vaguely, seeing an air show sometime, a long, long time ago and it was fascinating. Something that rarely occurs around this area. And of course, with your proximity to so much water, how great it would be to see those naval vessels and great too that you can spout off so much of the history of them too. Proves that you can learn lots and lots of interesting stuff via blogging, can't 'cha?

  1. Anonymous says:

    This looks like a very interesting event. Thanks for sharing about it. Wow! You really did have a close encounter with the Blue Angels if it looked like the Wiki photo! Whew!

  1. I loved Fleet Week in NY City...and I have seen the Blue Angels many buddy was asked to join them years ago, but declined as he did not want to just do exhibitions

  1. Those images are exciting just as images! I can't imagine how wonderful it would be to be that close to them. Wow.

    Your reasons and always so articulate and well thought out. I hope you are putting these in some depository somewhere for further reference. I should be doing that and gathering them up...what am I saying??! It's all I can do to locate peace globes!!