Aerial Views Taken On A Jaunt To The North Bay

We take off from Palo Alto and do a right turn over the Dumbarton bridge. Below us we see the old disused railway bridge and beyond it the salt flats on the east side of the bay. The haze level is still fairly low as the morning overcast has just burnt off in this part of the bay area.

As we progress a little further, we get a good view of all the different colors of the salt flats

Head north past Hayward and get a view of what's happening in suburbia. It used to be that middle-class suburbia in the Bay Area was a single storey 3 bedroom 2 bath rancher. Now it is a 2 storey 5 bed and 3 bath in faux mediterranean style. And the large developments have moved out of the valley and onto the ridge-tops.

They are still ticky-tacky boxes when viewed en masse - and somewhat depressing.

Destination achieved - a tiny little airport, but close enough to some others to be able to cause confusion if not for the wonders of GPS.

Surprising how much the dirt shows up on the windshield in this picture - like against the dark background of the prop.

The only other apparent activity at the airport is this rather pretty PT17 getting ready to take off. This plane came from the factory the same year I was born.

The advantage of big airports is that they have tarmac surfaces for everything.

Wine country - some of the world's finest wines come from a 20 mile radius around here. Sometimes on south-facing slopes, sometimes on the flat lands in the valleys.

We are heading back from the North bay towards San Francisco and fly right over the second example I know of this sort of thing in the Bay Area. It is a gravel quarry that has been dug way deeper than sea level, but is right at the water's edge. Scary. (Yes - this is earthquake country)

This picture is not composed as well as I would like it and may take some figuring out. We are nearly over the quarry so the plane has to be in a left bank to get a shot of it - shooting across the cockpit out of the left window. The circular artifact is the fresh-air scoop in the corner of the window.

As we leave Marin County to head over the water to San Francisco, we pass over San Quentin. We're up here in the wild blue yonder - free as a bird - while down there are folks locked up for life. Pause for thought...

It is now well after lunch-time so the heat of the day has built up and the accompanying haze is much more evident than when we set out. Here we have a wide-angle view of San Francisco with the Golden Gate Bridge on the right, and the Bay Bridge on the left.

Almost dead ahead in the distance is Alcatraz - another prison, now no longer in use and functioning as a tourist destination.

Zooming in on the Golden Gate Bridge doesn't help much - the intervening 15 miles or so of atmosphere really does a number on sharpness and contrast.

Zooming in on the city isn't much better, even though it is not quite as far away.

At a range of about 7 miles, it gets a little better in terms of clarity. You can see that Treasure Island (lower left foreground) is much clearer because it is significantly closer.

As we get closer to Oakland, we get a good view of the "new" Bay Bridge under construction which will eventualy replace the old one and be less prone to having sections collapse in an earthquake. The section in the foreground is from Oakland to Treasure Island - then on the other side of the island, the old bridge continues on to San Fransisco.

The Port of Oakland - a major "container" port on the west coast servicing freight from the far east. Given how much trade we do with Japan, China, Korea, et al., this is a busy place.

The port stretches a long way, and also accommodates some Naval vessels which can be seen near the top of the picture.

Traffic control has vectored us right over downtown Oakland (Lake Merrit is directly under us) to pass over the middle of the runways at Oakland Airport - thus staying well out of the way of incoming and departing air traffic from this major airport.

As we reach the outer end of the airport we can spot a blimp moored there. While this airport handles quite a bit of commercial passenger aviation, it also is a major hub for air-freight (e.g. Fed Ex, UPS, DHL, and friends) particulalry useful with its proximity to the port.

This is the main part of the airport (nice of them to label it for us) and we can see the two big parallel runways near the top.

As we pass over, a FedEx DC10 has just "chirped" down on the runway, leaving a puff of smoke where the tires made contact.

We head back over to the west side of the bay, passing the San Mateo Bridge on the way. When it was first built, this was one of the longest, but other longer bridges have since been built elsewhere.

Finally we're in the landing pattern back at Palo Alto. Below us is "the duck pond" and the start of the baylands park.

We are travelling from right to left in this picture. In the upper right corner we can see the start of the runway, so we are about to go into a gentle right turn and flare-out neatly over the piano keys.