Today's the first day of the Fleet Week Air Show over San Francisco Bay — as if you need to be told after hours of deafening noise. And in case you haven't gone out to the waterfront or stood on a Russian Hill roof to see the festivity and show of military might, we have some fresh footage of the one non-military part of the show: a United 777 that did some aerial tricks and stunts.
For aerospace geeks, Fleet Week and this show are a time to squee over this kind of stuff. And unless you're one of those people that hangs out near airport fences just to watch takeoffs and landings for fun, it's not every day that you get to see a commercial jetliner this up close and personal, and doing wacky things like fly really low and then zoom up in the air.
This is basically like an ad for United wrapped up in the military air show — and, yes, United is a lead sponsor of SF Fleet Week, as they have been in the past.
But check out this 777 coming in over the Marina and flying low over the Bay today.
Here's a look at the kooky flight path:
I heard @United is participating in @FleetWeekSF. I think they're finally getting dizzy flying around San Francisco for three hours at only 2800 feet and are coming in for a landing. #fleetweeksf pic.twitter.com/QOyMXisrwP— Doyle (@Mfg_Locally) October 8, 2021
As a United Airlines demo pilot who's participating in the show explains to KRON4, there aren't any 'crazy' tricks, per se. It's just that a jetliner like this would not normally be allowed to fly this low or in the restricted air space of the Bay. And this is the only air show in the country where a commercial jetliner does something like this.
"This year we’re planning on flying the 777-ER," says United Airlines Lead Demo Pilot Randy Abraham. "It’s our brand new 777 that we have and the biggest airplane that we have. Actually, the show is no different from what the other pilots fly. All the maneuvers are within the normal restrictions that the airplane has. It’s just in the restricted air space of the air show. we’re able to fly higher speeds, lower altitudes than the FAA would normally allow."
Also, while the flight looks pretty calm and simple, it's anything but, and it requires four pilots to be on board.
"There is a lot of work that goes on," says Flight Captain John Mawhinney, speaking to KRON4. "It looks very beautiful and calm and majestic as the airplane flies by the crowd, but the flight deck is a bit frantic. It takes a lot of work to get this airplane to do what you’re seeing and the sequence of the events are happening very quickly."
Below are a couple of other videos of 777s from Fleet Weeks in 2017 and 2018, for reference.