As some recent posts have covered, I made a visit to SFO recently to go up the old tower before it was demolished. I got to the airport a little ahead of time so had some time along the bay shore awaiting my time slot. I got some shots of operations while I was there. The wind was out of the south so reverse operations were in effect which is always an interesting change to things. The departures to the east are busy and a little different while the arriving jets come closer to you as they touch down and roll out.
The light was a bit subdued but there were a few heavies arriving. A couple of 747-400s including a Qantas jet and an ANA 777-300ER. However, the sun did pop out briefly as a Hawaiian A330 departed (presumably for Hawaii). The sun caught it quite nicely as it climbed and, in the background you could see one of the jets lining up for arrival on the 19s.
Major international airports can get very busy with a steady stream of departures and arrivals. Often it is hard to visualize how much traffic there is. It can be that the best time is at night when the string of lights strung out on the flightpaths makes it clearer just how much is out there. If you can find yourself in line (or almost in line) with the runways, you can get a better view of what is moving out there. The reversal of operations at SFO provided an opportunity to see the jets spread out across San Francisco Bay towards Oakland as they came in to land. A bit of a long lens and you can see several aircraft in a single frame.
An early morning start had me in Oakland looking for a shot that didn’t ending up working out the way I had anticipated. It didn’t take long to work out that I wasn’t going to be successful so I started looking for an alternative. It turned out that the winds were from a slightly unusual direction and SFO was running with operations in a different direction to normal. As a result, while I had been to SFO a few times in the previous month or so, I decided to head along.
Normally, the arrivals at SFO come in on the parallel 28 runways with departures of most jets from the 01s with the heavy jets going off the 28s in between the arrivals. With the wind switched around, most of the departures were coming off the 10s heading down the bay while the arrivals were coming across the bay from the Oakland direction to land on the 19s. In the morning, this meant the light was well placed on the nose of the departing jets and it also provided good illumination on the arriving jets. You also see them from an angle that is not normal at SFO.
Getting operations in these directions when the skies were clear and the temperatures cool enough to avoid too much in the way of heat haze was a combination I couldn’t pass up. Unfortunately, it wasn’t to last. While I could see jets out over the bay on their way in, some of the departing jets were starting to taxi around to the thresholds of the 01s. Sure enough, after the last of the landings, the departures started reverting to normal and the arrivals started to appear on the 28s. Not the end of the world but a shame that I didn’t get some more of the bigger jets departing from the 10s. They would have been cool to see given the favorable light.
A little bit of sad news recently came through to me from the West Coast. Airship Ventures have ceased operations. They are a company that bought a new generation Zeppelin airship from the manufacturers in Germany and based it in the Bay Area around San Francisco. They provided tours around the Bay as well as operating further afield in the state. I got to catch up with them when they undertook a national tour that included a stop not far from Chicago.
I was writing an article for the website at Global Aviation Resource which you can see here. I also blogged about it here. There is an effort underway to rescue the business. We shall see whether they are successful or whether someone buys the assets at a discount and sets up something new. I hope it works out and wish them well.