San Diegans weren't short of reasons on why to attend the centennial event, which was located almost directly above the USS Midway Museum west of Harbor Drive.
Onlookers were full of anticipation as the time of the parade drew closer. Their vantage points ranged from at the museum, onboard the USS Midway or in a nearby grassy area.
Nancy Fischer of La Costa said her husband Allen was aboard the Midway
"He flew in Vietnam," Fischer said, "so we are just really proud of him and excited to see all the airplanes today.”
Many people had personal connections to the U.S. Navy.
Fischer's son, Kevin Fischer, said he was "looking forward to seeing the Blue Angels."
“My girlfriend has never seen them," Kevin Fischer said, "so I am excited to share this with her.”
Daniel Amastuce, who was visiting San Diego from Switzerland, said he was excited to see the Blue Angels for the first time.
San Diego resident Thanh Nguyen came to indulge a broader interest.
“I like planes, and I thought this would a good time to see a lot of planes in a short amount of time," Nguyen said.
Onlookers recognized the rarity of this type of air show and the significance attached to the 100th anniversary of naval aviation.
“This is a centennial event, so I won’t be able to see something like this again for 100 years," Nguyen said. "And I probably won’t be around then anyway.”
Nguyen added: “I’m just glad that San Diego has a free event so all its citizens can come out and enjoy it. It’s great, and that’s why I live here in San Diego.”
Tyler Deney, a 17-year-old from Orange County, found inspiration in the event.
“I just got my pilot’s license last week, so I’m excited to see this and I’m looking forward to it," Deney said.
San Diego is recognized as the birthplace of Naval Aviation. Glenn Curtis acquired a lease on North Island in the San Diego Bay, and on May 8, 1911, the Navy issued its first requisition for an airplane, the Curtis A-1 Triad.
The Naval Aviation Program's Parade of Flight on Saturday is one of many planned celebrations across the country recognizing the 100-year milestone. More information is available on the centennial website.