Birds-eye Views of Saturday’s “Parade of Flight”-Centennial of Naval Aviation

My Saturday mission was simple: to view the once-in-a-lifetime Centennial of Naval Aviation (CONA) “Parade of Flight.” Despite warnings of historic crowds along San Diego Bay and gridlock, I ventured one spot I thought, “Hey I’m a local, no one will think of going there.”

Um, I was wrong… by a long shot! Thousands of folks figured as I had that Cabrillo National Monument high atop Point Loma would provide one of the best vantage points in the city to view 200 aircraft on parade – from vintage planes to the magnificent Blue Angels – zooming above the bay, hugging the shoreline of Coronado and NAS North Island and then out to the sparkling Pacific Ocean.

Helicopter squadron flying in the Parade of Flight above NAS North Island, Coronado.

As far as the eye could see, cars and people with binoculars and cameras lined the road – from Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery to the entrance of Cabrillo which was closed and filled to capacity. Luckily, as I made a u-turn at the ranger station, I snagged one of the last remaining parking spots on the shoulder. Alas, front-row seats were mine!

Four F-5 Tiger II jets zoom into view during the Parade of Flight.

For the next hour and a half I peered proudly into the crystal-clear blue skies as 100 years of naval aviation history flew into my birds-eye view.

KC-130 tanker plane followed by two CH-53 helicopters.

These are a few of the best pics I took, including the mile-wide, V-shape formation finale of 35+ planes from the USS Stennis aircraft carrier that flew right over our heads (and into the history books!). In a word: WOW!

Parade of Flight finale - massive V-formation of planes flying over Point Loma.

The Navy posted an awesome video highlighting the day’s festivities on Coronado, where an estimated 70,000 visitors packed NAS North Island! Equally impressive was the San Diego Union-Tribune’s report on the parade’s “masterful” aerial choreography.

Though the Parade of Flight is history, you can still earn your wings! CONA festivities continue with the impressive “Wings of Gold” exhibit  at the Coronado Museum of History & Art, plus “Project Home Front” spotlighting naval aviators’ homes on the island.

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Robert Arends

About Robert Arends

I’m a native San Diegan and man of many hats: PR, roadside America traveler/backyard tourist (especially our mountains and Anza-Borrego Desert), photographer (motto: capture the moment!), music fan, sci-fi buff, tiki collector and constant gardener.
What would you do on your ideal San Diego day?
I would spend the day snorkeling in La Jolla Cove. It’s like swimming in a huge aquarium – Garibaldi fish, lobsters, sea lions, oh my!
If you were invisible, where would you go?
I’d go surfing in Coronado. I’ve never surfed, but have always wanted to. If I was invisible no one would see me fall (again and again! – LOL).
What is your favorite San Diego outdoor activity?
Walking the Prado in Balboa Park; feels like I’m in Spain. The architecture is amazing!  I also enjoy hiking Anza-Borrego Desert State Park to see the annual wildflowers and exploring the tidepools at Cabrillo National Monument.
Do you prefer burgers and beer or linguine and red wine?
Linguine and red wine (wine list, please!), with tableside views of San Diego Bay.
Latest music purchases for my iPod/MP3 player are…
Magic Man: Paris, Bear Hands: Giants, Capital Cities: I Sold My Bed, But Not My Stereo, Man Man: Head On, London Grammar: Nightcall (Freemasons Remix).
Follow Robert on Twitter @groovestar

4 thoughts on “Birds-eye Views of Saturday’s “Parade of Flight”-Centennial of Naval Aviation

  1. The San Diego Air & Space Museum will also be hosting an exhibit celebrating the Centennial of Naval Aviation. The exhibit will include the Curtiss A-1 Triad, the first naval plane, that demonstrated its ability to work the morning of the Centennial celebration.

  2. A great article, and makes those of us in freezing, snowy Minnesota long for a trip to sunny San Diego. This event certainly was ‘once in a lifetime’ and I wish that I had been there to see it, along with my nephew.

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