Photos: SFO plane spotting from a land fill

There’s this thing people do, called plane spotting, where they nerd out and photograph the planes landing and departing (or parked) at an airport.

While I’ve yet to earn the #avgeek badge (try searching “#avgeek” on Twitter or Instagram, where you’ll find hundreds of posts per day), there’s this park by SFO that I figured would be a cool spot to try it out.


A plane descending above the landfill ridge of Seal Point Park.

What is plane spotting?

You watch and photograph planes landing and taking off, noting the makes, models, airlines, and liveries (paint jobs) of planes from around the world.

In my mind, it’s a free way to get your head in the sky.

So where’d you do it?

There’s this park called Seal Point a few miles south of San Francisco International Airport.

A huge landfill ridge stretches along the bay, providing great views of Silicon Valley, the San Mateo Bridge, and on clear days, the city of San Francisco.


Looking south at the San Mateo Bridge, with a sculpture in the foreground.

A descending plane flies by the park about once per minute, so it’s a steady stream.

What’d you see?

Mostly planes on domestic flights from United, American, Virgin America, Alaska and Delta airlines (in descending order of frequency).


A United Airlines B777.

I only spent about 30 minutes with my camera, but I did see a couple birds that I think are somewhat rare.

First, one of the 20 remaining United B747s (double-deck in the front), which will soon be extinct:




Second, a TACA plane, which will also soon be extinct as a result of El Salvador-based TACA Airlines being taken over by Avianca in 2013:


Here’s the airline I’ve spent the most time with:


Another B777:


Downtown San Francisco in the distance:


If you were wondering what that new tower is that now dominates the SF skyline, it’s the Salesforce Tower.

It’s not yet finished, but it already dwarfs SF’s other skyscrapers.

Here are some closer photos I shot last week:



Back to Seal Point. Here are few more photos:






A few disclaimers:

  1. My 200mm DSLR lens didn’t get me as close as I’d like, so I apologize for the noise in some of these photos. Always blame the equipment.
  2. As I mentioned, I’m not yet a #avgeek, so if I misidentified anything, please comment.

Thanks for stopping by!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s