Airplane Shots

Window Seat Pics OAK to LAX, Thanksgiving Day 2014 (12 Photos)

Taking off from Oakland on Thanksgiving day. Ships in the Bay.
Taking off from Oakland on Thanksgiving day. Ships in the Bay.
The Gateway to the Peninsula.
The Gateway Isthmus to the Peninsula.

There is a lot going on in this picture. In the foreground is San Bruno Mountain, which separates San Francisco from the rest of the Peninsula. The flat expanse just beyond contains the cities of South San Francisco, San Bruno, and Daly City, known as “Gateway to the Peninsula.”

What this picture reveals, however, is that this flat little expanse between San Francisco and the rest of the Peninsula beyond is actually an isthmus. What’s more, we are looking at two separate tectonic plates. Do you see that thin blue line of water coming in diagonally at the top-middle left hand side of the picture? That is the San Andreas Fault which divides the Pacific Plate from the North American Plate. It continues in a straight line right out to sea and then hits land again in Marin County, just north of San Francisco.

The thin blue line of water is actually two narrow lakes, formed when runoff collects in the narrow gorge between the two plates. The lake closest to us in the center of the picture is called San Andreas Lake. The fault was named after the lake and not the other way around.

Slightly different view of the Peninsula's narrow waist and the fault lakes.
Slightly different view of the Peninsula’s narrow waist and the fault lakes.

* * *

The island city of Alameda, with Mt. Diablo in the background.
The island city of Alameda, with Mt. Diablo in the background.

* * *

The approach to Los Angeles
The approach to Los Angeles.
UCLA. San Fernando Valley in background.
UCLA. San Fernando Valley in background.
As of Thanksgiving 2014, drought conditions still prevailed in L.A. It is very apparent from this altitude that people are refraining from watering their lawns and that the public green areas such as boulevard median strips are now public brown areas. Of course, in the days after taking this photo LA received its first big rainfall of the season.
As of Thanksgiving 2014, drought conditions still prevailed in L.A. It is very apparent from this altitude that people are refraining from watering their lawns and that the public green areas such as boulevard median strips have become public brown areas. Of course, in the days after this photo was taken LA received its first big rainfall of the season.
Iconic shot of Northeast L.A. featuring downtown (lower right), MacArthur Park (lower left), Chavez Ravine (right side, below wing), Echo Park (blue lake, middle of picture), and Silver Lake (upper center).
Iconic shot of Northeast L.A. featuring downtown (lower right), MacArthur Park (mid-left), Chavez Ravine (far right, below wing), Echo Park (small blue lake, middle of picture), and Silver Lake (upper center).

* * *

L.A.’S TWO STREET GRIDS

Los Angeles began as a city that belonged to the king of Spain. Its street grid, based on a traditional Spanish plan, was a three mile square centered on the Los Angeles River, whose streets were at a 45 degree angle to the cardinal points.This city plan served Los Angeles for its first hundred years, even for its first several decades under U.S. dominion. By the 1880s, Anglo-Americans from the Midwest began arriving and settling in Los Angeles in droves, and they wanted a city laid out with the standard U.S. grid aligned to the cardinal points, N,S,E,W. In the two photos below, you can see this dividing line where the original Spanish city ends and the American city begins, and the two street grids collide.

L.A.'s two street grids.
L.A.’s two street grids meet at sharp angles.
los angeles grids
A wider view of the two street grids.
hollywood park
Hollywood Park, condemned and awaiting demolition.
Holiday traffic on the 405
Holiday traffic on the 405

Window Seat Photos OAK-LAX, July 25 & 28, 2014 (18 Photos)

Due to a flight cancellation and a 2.5 hour delay, I got out of OAK much later than I like to. On the plus side, the early evening sun silhouetted the mountain ranges in both NoCal and SoCal nicely, providing great definition that even an iphone could capture. It was also a chance to enjoy magic hour above L.A.

It was an uncharacteristically muggy July in the Bay Area, and as I learned it was significantly more humid in L.A. I was startled but not surprised when on early sunday afternoon there was a nasty thunderstorm that discharged its electricity in the shallow water just south of Venice Pier. Where I was, the ground shook and car alarms went off. As I later sadly learned, one swimmer was killed by the lightning and more than a dozen others received injuries.

A flotilla of container ships, with beautiful San Bruno and Santa Cruz Mountains in background.
After takeoff from OAK, a flotilla of container ships with beautiful San Bruno and Santa Cruz Mountains in background.
sfo
San Francisco International.
McLaren Park, southeast San Francisco.
McLaren Park, southeast San Francisco.
A virtual relief map of southeast San Francisco.
A virtual relief map of southeast San Francisco.
Golden hour north of Los Angeles.
Golden hour north of Los Angeles.
Banking left over Malibu.
Banking left over Malibu.
National forest land north of L.A.  Tiny Lake Piru is visible directly beneath the point of the nearer flap track fairing (the pointy pod-shaped thing). Castaic Lake is the V-shaped body of water beneath the further flap track. Piru is in Ventura County, Castaic is Los Angeles County.
National forest land north of L.A. Tiny Lake Piru is visible directly beneath the point of the nearer flap track fairing (the pointy pod-shaped thing). Castaic Lake is the V-shaped body of water beneath the further flap track. Piru is in Ventura County, Castaic is Los Angeles County.
A sweeping view from West L.A. north. From nearest to farthest: Rancho Park Golf Course, Century City, L.A. Country Club, Streetwise, that's PIco separating Rancho Park from Century City; Santa Monica Blvd running in a straight line north of Century City; and Wilshire Blvd curving off north of Santa Monica Blvd. That gleaming body of water atop the  Santa Monica Mountains is the Stone Canyon Reservoir. Beyond that is the entire expanse of the San Fernando Valley covered in a light haze. At the rear end of the flat expanse of the San Fernando Valley on the left side are what I think are the Santa Susana Mountains; on the right is the San Gabriel range. That dip in between the two ranges is Newhall Pass, where the I-5 leaves Los Angeles County heading north toward the Grapevine and where the Antelope Valley Freeway begins. Note that the silhouetted ridges of three more Transverse  mountain ranges are visible in the upper right of the photo beyond the San Gabriel range.
A sweeping view from West L.A. north. From nearest to farthest: Rancho Park Golf Course, Century City, L.A. Country Club, Streetwise, that’s PIco separating Rancho Park from Century City; Santa Monica Blvd running in a straight line north of Century City; and Wilshire Blvd curving off north of Santa Monica Blvd.
That gleaming body of water atop the Santa Monica Mountains is the Stone Canyon Reservoir. Beyond that is the entire expanse of the San Fernando Valley covered in a light haze. At the rear end of the flat expanse of the San Fernando Valley on the left side are what I think are the Santa Susana Mountains; on the right is the San Gabriel range. That dip in between the two ranges is Newhall Pass, where the I-5 leaves Los Angeles County heading north toward the Grapevine and where the Antelope Valley Freeway begins.
Note that the silhouetted ridges of three more Transverse mountain ranges are visible in the upper right of the photo beyond the San Gabriel range.
Another nice  perspective: West L.A and the I-405 in the foreground The Valley behind it. And for all I know, those could be the Sierra Nevada Mountains on the horizon.
Another nice perspective: West L.A and the I-405 in the foreground The Valley behind it. And for all I know, those could be the Sierra Nevada Mountains on the horizon.
A softer horizon, harder to tell where the mountains end and the clouds begin.
A softer horizon, harder to tell where the mountains end and the clouds begin.
Magic hour above Gardena.
Magic hour above Gardena.
Hollywood Park racetrack. Closed at the end of 2013 and soon to be demolished.
Hollywood Park racetrack. Closed down for good at the end of 2013 and soon to be demolished. Some call it progress.
The 405 at magic hour. No traffic!
The 405 at magic hour. No traffic!

 

Less than 24 hours before this photo was taken, lightning from a freak thunderstorm struck the water just south of this pier, killing one swimmer and injuring over a dozen others.
Less than 24 hours before this photo was taken, lightning from a freak thunderstorm struck the water just south of this pier, killing one swimmer and injuring over a dozen others.
Castaic Lake.
Castaic Lake.
The curve of Santa Monica Bay. It looks like barely anybody lives there.
The curve of Santa Monica Bay. In this light, it barely looks populated.
Above Malibu.
Looking down on Malibu.
Home.
Home.

Coming Into Los Angeles (12 photos)

 

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LAX, Marina Del Rey, Venice
Downtown Los Angeles
Downtown Los Angeles
Harbor Freeway, one of the arteries that feed the city.
Harbor Freeway northbound, one of the arteries that feed the city.
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Harbor Freeway heading south. Note the L.A. Coliseum in the right foreground and the Palos Verdes Peninsula on the horizon.
Los Angeles Coliseum, Exposition Park.
Los Angeles Coliseum, Exposition Park.
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“This is the city: Los Angeles, California.”
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Crenshaw Christian Center parking lot and the Faith Dome.
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That faint diagonal slash running from LAX to bottom left corner is the appropriately named La Tijera Blvd. Note the sandy La Cienega oil fields, bottom right quadrant.
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Closeup of the oil fields.
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Holy Cross Catholic Cemetery, Culver City. Interred here are Ray Bolger and Jack Haley (The Scarecrow and the Tin Man from the Wizard of Oz), Daws Butler (the voice of Huckleberry Hound and countless other cartoon characters), John Candy, Jackie Coogan, Darby Crash, Bing Crosby, Jimmy Durante, John Ford, Mary Frann (I didn’t realize she had died!), Rita Hayworth, Chick Hearn, Conrad Hilton Jr., Spike Jones, Bela Lugosi, Fred MacMurray, Audrey Meadows, Ricardo Montalban, the great sportswriter Jim Murray, Evelyn Nesbit (for anyone who read the novel or saw the film “Ragtime” she was not a fictional character), Walter O’Malley, Chris Penn and his father Leo Penn, Hayden Rorke aka Dr. Bellows, Mack Sennett (the man who built the first L.A. movie studio), Sharon Tate as well as her sister and mother, and Lawrence Welk

 

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Nearby is the Hillside Memorial Park Cemetery, a Jewish graveyard housing the earthly remains of Army Archerd, Jack Benny, Milton Berle, musician Mike Bloomfield, Sorrell Booke aka Boss Hogg, superagent Bernie Brillstein, Nell Carter, Percy Faith, Friz Freling, Eydie Gorme, baseball Hall of Famer Hank Greenberg, Lorne Greene, Barbie Doll inventor Ruth Handler, Alpha Stooge Moe Howard, Al Jolson whose mausoleum is visible from the 405 Freeway, Michael Landon, Vic Morrow, Jan Murray, Suzanne Pleshette, Tom Poston, Jerry Rubin, Sherwood Schwartz, Aaron Spelling, and Shelley Winters.

 

Crossing Sepulveda
Crossing Sepulveda


Oakland to LAX. April 2014 (5 photos)

Usually when I fly south, I sit on the left side of the aircraft. This time I chose the right. Instead of the sweeping views of San Francisco and the Peninsula, I got a nice glimpse of Alameda and some offshore clouds as we banked south.

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The two sections of the city of Alameda. In the foreground, Bay Farm Island, which isn’t really an island, and across the channel Alameda Island, which is an island but didn’t used to be.
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The mid-section of Alameda. Note Coast Guard Island in the middle of the photo.
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An offshore spring weather system.
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And before you know it, the Channel Islands come into view and you’re entering SoCal.
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Crossing the Santa Monica Mountains. Note Lake Sherwood in the bottom of the screen, an exclusive community whose residents include Tom Petty and Britney Spears.

Up The Coast. A Glimpse Of The Channel Islands. Dec. 2, 2013.

LAX. The journey begins.
LAX. The journey begins.

 

Foreground: The southern tip of the ghost town of Surfridge, a community of typical tract houses right under the LAX flight pattern. With the advent of jet engines, the neighborhood was deemed unsafe for habitation. Under eminent domain, the residents were bought out and the houses destroyed. All that remain are the roads and some foundation slabs.
Foreground: The southern tip of the ghost town of Surfridge, until the 1960s, just another community of suburban tract houses that happened to be right under the LAX flight pattern. With the advent of jet engines, the neighborhood was deemed unsafe for habitation. Under eminent domain, the residents were bought out and the houses destroyed. All that remain are these roads and some foundation slabs.
At LAX, they take off two at a time.
At LAX, they take off two at a time.

 

Using me as an example, it’s quite possible to grow up your entire life in L.A. and not know that there are any other islands offshore besides Catalina. In fact there are seven more. A fringe benefit of flying from LAX to Oakland on Southwest Air and sitting on the left side of the aircraft is a chance to view a majority of these islands in rapid succession and realize just how nearby they are.

Catalina Island in the foreground, San Clemente Island in the rear. The other airplane is visible just above Catalina's isthmus; it's heading south, we're banking north.
Catalina Island in the foreground, San Clemente Island in the rear. The other airplane is still visible just above Catalina’s isthmus; it’s heading south, we’re banking north.
Leaving L.A. County. The contours of Point Dume are in the foreground; Ventura County is the inlet beyond the mountain range; and Santa Barbara County is the vanishing point on the horizon. Note the Channel Islands National Park offshore to the left. I believe all four islands might be visible: Anacapa (nearest), followed by Santa Cruz, Santa Rosa (far left), and possibly San Miguel (far right just behind Santa Cruz).
Leaving L.A. County. The contours of Point Dume are in the foreground; Ventura County is the inlet beyond the mountain range; and Santa Barbara County is the vanishing point on the horizon. Note the Channel Islands National Park offshore to the left. I believe all four islands might be visible: Anacapa (nearest), followed by Santa Cruz, Santa Rosa (far left), and possibly San Miguel (far right just behind Santa Cruz).
Closeup of the previous photo: Channel Islands off the coast of Ventura County. The three little ones in the foreground are the Anacapa Islands; the large "C" shaped one behind it is Santa Cruz Island; behind that and to the left is Santa Rosa Island.
Closeup of the previous photo: Channel Islands off the coast of Ventura County. The three little ones in the foreground are the Anacapa Islands; the large “C” shaped one behind it is Santa Cruz Island; behind that and to the left is Santa Rosa Island.
Above Ventura County.
Above Ventura County.
Close-up of Anacapa Islands (left), Santa Cruz Island (center), and Santa Rosa Island (rear) from above Ventura.
Close-up of Anacapa Islands (left), Santa Cruz Island (center), and Santa Rosa Island (rear) from above Ventura.
Drinks are served. When did bloody mary mix become the color of sweet and sour sauce? Since this one was free, I'm not complaining.
Drinks are served. When did bloody mary mix become the color of sweet and sour sauce?
Since this one was free, I’m not complaining.
Commuting via the stratosphere. 35 minutes after takeoff, the Bay approaches.
Commuting via the stratosphere. 35 minutes after takeoff, the Bay approaches.
The familiar site of evaporation ponds.
The familiar site of evaporation ponds.
San Mateo Bridge and the newly restored wetlands of the Hayward bayshore. Next up: Oakland International.
San Mateo Bridge. Reentering the realm of the automobile. Note the one-way direction of the commuter traffic at approximately 5 pm. Next up: Oakland International.

 

Over California, Thanksgiving Day 2013

On Nov. 21, 2013, Southwest Airlines began allowing the use of portable electronic devices in airplane mode at elevations below 10,000 feet. This means you can take pictures with your smart phone for the course of the entire flight, opening up exciting new possibilities in the field of window-seat photojournalism.

One week later, Thanksgiving Day 2013, I boarded a flight from Oakland to Los Angeles and snapped these shots.

Soon to be demolished Candlestick Park.
Soon to be demolished Candlestick Park.

 

San Bruno Mountain. The northernmost point of the Santa Cruz Mountain Range.
San Bruno Mountain. The northernmost point of the Santa Cruz Mountain Range.
The seam running down the middle is the San Andreas Fault rift just south of Francisco. The narrow bpdy of water is the Crystal Springs Reservoir.
The San Andreas Fault, just south of San Francisco. Here, the fault is a water-filled rift known as the Crystal Springs Reservoir.
That narrow vertical slash in the middle of the screen is the 2-mile long Stanford Linear Accelerator.
That narrow vertical slash in the middle of the screen is the 2-mile long Stanford Linear Accelerator.
Malibu Coast
Malibu Coast
Los Angeles beneath a Thanksgiving-colored sky.
The contours of Los Angeles beneath a Thanksgiving-colored sky.
The L.A. trifecta. At the top of the screen below the furthest engine is the Silver Lake reservoir; the spot of blue below the nearer engine is Echo Park Lake; the square patch in the bottom center is MacArthur Park and its lake.
The L.A. trifecta. At the top of the screen below the furthest engine is the Silver Lake reservoir; the spot of blue below the nearer engine is Echo Park Lake; the square patch in the bottom center is MacArthur Park and its lake.