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Airplanes - near miss over Mid-town

Original post made by Dan on May 15, 2009

Did anyone else see the near-miss over Midtown last night (Thursday). It looked to be two 747's about 1000' apart horizontally and 500 vertically. Looked like they were on approach to SFO, but got out of sequence.

Comments (35)

Posted by anonymous, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on May 16, 2009 at 5:42 pm

I thought there was an event out of Moffett involving WWII aircraft - you can take rides? Perhaps it was part of that event?


Posted by Bruce, a resident of Crescent Park
on May 16, 2009 at 10:21 pm

I did not notice that particular incident, but I have noticed recently what seems to be many more airplanes flying over Palo Alto at a lower altitude. I wonder what is going on some days it is really annoying, I used to live in a pretty quiet area. Another thing is the pollution released by these jets constantly flying over us. Why can' they do this stuff over the bay at least?


Posted by Bruce, a resident of Crescent Park
on May 16, 2009 at 10:22 pm

Those WWII aircraft bombers are pretty unmistakeable and loud, and different sounding, as well as looking. I think they are cool, particularly the B-17s. I think it would be hard to mistake one for a 747.


Posted by John, a resident of Egan Middle School (Los Altos)
on Jun 27, 2014 at 8:44 pm

I saw it too. I was out by my BBQ with my mouth hanging open wondering if they were going to collide. I took a picture of the two jets about 10 seconds after they passed each other when I recovered my senses. Some aircraft controller is going to be taking some serious flak for that one...I hope. I was guessing they were less than a few hundred yards apart.


Posted by Midtowner, a resident of Midtown
on Jun 27, 2014 at 10:50 pm

John, you commented on an old thread but I am wondering if you saw a new event. When was it that you saw two airplanes almost collide and took a photo of it? I'd be interested to know if it's recent.

Thanks


Posted by John, a resident of Egan Middle School (Los Altos)
on Jun 28, 2014 at 11:29 am

Didn't realize this was an older thread, I just read the "Thursday" part. The event I saw was on Thursday, 6/26 at 8:13 p.m.

Also, the planes looked smaller than 747s, more like 737s. Maybe the air controllers have decided to give us a monthly "near collision" extravaganza.


Posted by Midtowner, a resident of Midtown
on Jun 28, 2014 at 11:52 am

Thanks for the info, John. If you don't mind my asking, would you tell me where this was, approximately, such as over which neighborhood. Was it Midtown, like the 2009 incident? There is a way to track these planes down potentially, through tools such as Webtrak.

We do have a problem in the area with airplane traffic, including commercial jet traffic. It's very dense, frequent, and flies lower than ever. All this entails noise, health, and obviously safety issues.


Posted by Rupert of henzau, a resident of Midtown
on Jun 28, 2014 at 1:25 pm

[Post removed.]


Posted by resident 1, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Jun 28, 2014 at 2:02 pm

If any individual - no matter where they live - sees a situation that is irregular in the air space they should email SFO / San Jose and report their concerns. Each property owner owns their airspace to a certain degree.
Both SFO and San Jose have commercial air tracker programs on their web sites. You can check and see who is in your airspace.

There are a lot of larger 747's which are transatlantic from Hawaii / Asia; and LAX to SFO flights that cross over on a regular basis.

There are many smaller commercial flights that have to do fly-overs to allow bigger planes to land and come back around a second time - usually lower in altitude.

Start the dialogue with SFO to show that people within the air traffic routes are aware and reporting on irregular altitudes.
Telling us will do no good - report to SFO / San Jose.


Posted by Jetman, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 28, 2014 at 4:51 pm

I am not surprised to hear about a near miss (but don't expect to see it in the news). The skies over the Peninsula are an accident waiting to happen.

The recent crash of Asiana flight 214 at SFO should have been a wake up call for the FAA, but the FAA has a long history of protecting the airline industry, at the expense of safety. Investigations conducted after the Asiana crash revealed an appalling lack of skill, and lax standards for certification of foreign pilots. One senior pilot that worked as an instructor in Korea said his students were using social media to cheat on exams, and during in-flight training, if he shut off the autopilot to test manual flying skills, his students would literally panic because they did not know how to fly the plane without the autopilot.

The number of aircraft transiting Palo Alto airspace has nearly tripled since the year 2000. Today, a typical weekday sees 250 flights transit Palo Alto airspace. 180-200 of these flights are SFO bound jetliners. In the year 2000 the FAA agreed (under pressure from Anna Eshoo) to maintain an minimum altitude of 5,000' over eastern Menlo Park. Showing complete contempt for Anna Eshoo, the FAA is now routinely vectoring SFO bound aircraft over eastern Menlo Park at 4,000'.

"Korean Pilots Avoided Manual Flying, Former Trainers Say"
Bloomberg ~ July 16, 2013 Web Link

"FAA's Culture of Unaccountability"
Aviation Impact Reform ~ May 11, 2014 Web Link


Posted by Rupert of henzau, a resident of Midtown
on Jun 28, 2014 at 5:20 pm

[Post removed.]


Posted by Rupert of henzau, a resident of Midtown
on Jun 28, 2014 at 5:48 pm

Sorry, Jetman. I did not see the links at the end of your last posting. And as they say-- it has to be true, it was in the newspaper!,
However the Asiana incident is irrelevant to a phony siting in Palo Alto


Posted by resident 1, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Jun 28, 2014 at 6:00 pm

It is amazing - you can start categorizing the mind-set of regular contributors.
Rupert - the topic of air routes over PA has already been discussed at a PA CC Meeting - and a letter sent to the FAA by the mayor. This topic has moved beyond you - you have to keep up.


Posted by Rupert of henzau, a resident of Midtown
on Jun 28, 2014 at 6:05 pm

[Post removed.]


Posted by resident 1, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Jun 28, 2014 at 6:17 pm

John may live in Los Altos but have been in Palo Alto that night for an event. John should clarify where exactly he was in midtown.
Like a soccer festivity?

The trans-Pacific planes come in over Los Altos to PA to SFO. They are following a proscribed route. The route is the problem that is causing the congestion of planes over this area.

[Portion removed.]

The problem we have with this topic is that an individual in another town causes the topic to be shut off with no further input.

He should probably appear here soon.


Posted by Midtowner, a resident of Midtown
on Jun 28, 2014 at 6:25 pm

I looked up the flight-tracks over Palo Alto on WebTrak for Thursday, June 26, 2014, at about 8:13 PM.

Sure enough, on that day, at that time, I found what I would categorize as a rather close call. It looks very scary, although I admittedly don't know what the exact definition of a "near miss" is.

There were two commercial jets at the same time above South East Palo Alto, quite close to Charleston Road, between Middlefield Rd and Highway 101. They also flew past Mitchell Park. They are:

Singapore Airlines flight 2, a Boeing 77W, coming into SFO from Hong Kong, flying at about 6200 feet, and
Hawaiian Airlines flight 68, a Boeing 763, coming into Oakland from Lihue, HI, flying at about 3900 - 4000 feet.

They look very close to each other on the map. I also note that the plane flying into Oakland is at and below 4000 feet, which is egregiously low by itself, and that we ought to be concerned about, separately from the near miss issue.

We ought to take seriously the safety risk we incur from having planes flying this low, as well as crossing so closely over this town, not to mention the resulting noise and health issues.

You can find the WebTrak for the San Jose Aiport at
webtrak.bksv.com/sjc
It shows all airplanes flying above Palo Alto at any given time, no matter the airport the are flying from or going to (including SFO and Oakland).


Posted by Jetman, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 28, 2014 at 6:35 pm

Rupert,

I believe if you go back and read all of John's comments, you will see that on 6/28/14 John reported a near-miss he observed on Thursday 6/26 (two days ago), but accidentally posted his comments to an original post published on 5/15/09.


Posted by Rupert of henzau, a resident of Midtown
on Jun 28, 2014 at 6:40 pm

[Post removed.]


Posted by resident 1, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Jun 28, 2014 at 6:48 pm

Midtowner - great information. Hopefully you are going to email SFO and Oakland to indicate the concerns here. The more notification of concerns the better.
I emailed SFO a while back about low, slow flying 747-400 moving west to east for turn up north to SFO. I think he was in a go-around already. Meanwhile a flight was moving east to west from Oakland going to Hawaii at the same altitude.

They responded and noted the problem. Oakland has a problem flying east to west - Hawaii when the air is too congested in the area by SFO. They drop lower over Palo Alto.


Posted by Rupert of henzau, a resident of Midtown
on Jun 28, 2014 at 7:00 pm

[Post removed.]


Posted by resident 1, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Jun 28, 2014 at 11:12 pm

What is the definition of midtown? I think of it as Middlefield Road. It depends if you are cutting the city west to east or south to north. Not clear to me. What does Rupert think Midtown is?
Think about the size of a 747-400 - very big plane. And it is moving - so where it is at any moment is not where it will be in the next moment.


Posted by Jetman, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 29, 2014 at 12:53 am

Midtowner,

Thanks for ferreting out the details on Webtrak. Whether or not the two flights constitute a near-miss, it is rather disturbing that we have a Hawaiian Airlines flight 20 NM from Oakland Airport transiting Palo Alto airspace at 3,900', in an area where the floor for Class B airspace is 4,000', and general aviation can fly up to 4,000 under VFR.

This highlights a serious safety issue with the FAA routinely vectoring commercial aircraft over Palo Alto right at the floor for class B airspace... when you fly right at the floor, there is ZERO margin for error in altitude.


Posted by Rupert of henzau, a resident of Midtown
on Jun 29, 2014 at 6:05 am

[Post removed.]


Posted by Jetman, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 29, 2014 at 6:16 pm

Aviation Impact Reform has an interesting article on the FAA's recently released 2014 Controller Workforce Plan:

"FAA recently published the 2014 version of their Controller Workforce Plan. This document offers a quick view of two ongoing trends: ATC staffing remains high, while the workload, as measured in takeoffs, landings, and higher altitude en route operations is down 25% from the peak. As the graphs show, Air Traffic operations peaked fourteen years ago, in 2000, and have declined nearly every year since".

Interesting... in the same period (2000-2013) that "air operations" declined 25%, the number of SFO bound aircraft transiting Palo Alto airspace has increased from 70 per day, to 180-200 per day.

"FAA's ATC Traffic Continues Well Below Peak Year 2000"
Aviation Impact Reform ~ June 29, 2014 Web Link




Posted by John, a resident of Egan Middle School (Los Altos)
on Jun 29, 2014 at 9:56 pm

Okay, I stopped reading the comments shortly after Rupert called me a liar for the second or third time.

I responded to this string because I saw the heading about a "near miss" on Thursday night. I hardly realized this had happened before and didn't bother to check the date. I was merely posting because I was dumbfounded at what I had seen and wanted to find out if anyone else had witnessed it. I did not claim it was a "near disaster", I merely said that from my point of view, it looked like the planes passed within a few hundred yards of each other. Since the lower plane actually eclipsed the upper plane, it looked frightening from my perspective.

Yes, I live in north Los Altos very close to El Camino Real, and the event I saw was to the north of my house by, I'm guessing, a mile or so...which would put it over Palo Alto. They don't put up vision obstruction fences in the sky between cities Rupert. I can actually see Palo Alto from my back yard. :-) I have a photo of the event which happened at 8:13 and 22 seconds as evidenced by the time stamp on my iPhone camera.

I was not a "member" of this web site ( I have joined subsequently) and have a life going on, so I was not aware of the many comment to my post until I checked back today. I have posted the photo I took at (Web Link). Note that this was taken about 10 seconds after the lower jet eclipsed the upper one. Now tell me Rupert, would you be concerned if you had seen this?


Posted by Doubting Thomas, a resident of Midtown
on Jun 30, 2014 at 5:20 am

[Post removed.]


Posted by resident 1, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Jun 30, 2014 at 9:11 am

I am not commenting on this incident - was not at home - but have to put the distance in perspective.
If you go to any football game the field is 100 yards - that translates to 3,600 feet. Add the area around the field - the track plus seating you are in excess of 4,000 feet. Your eye is trained from childhood to understand that distance. You have been looking at the whole arena for a long time.

Now go look at a 747-400 at the airport - how does that fit into the football field? Is the altitude of the plane measured from the bottom of the plane or the top of the plane?

Where I live here are planes going directly over my house - some days more so than others. Some are going west to east to turn up to the SFO route - and others from Oakland are going east to west - that is during the especially heavy times during the day because Oakland does not want to enter the airspace around SFO during the heavy times during the day / evening.
So depending on what type of lifestyle you are in your eye is able to adjust to distance measurement. If you sit in your house all day long then you are out of luck. If you watch TV all day long then forget it. If you are outside all of the time then you are better equipped to assess distance.


Posted by Doubting Thomas, a resident of Midtown
on Jun 30, 2014 at 9:19 am

Resident 1- better check your math again -- 3 feet to a yard. 100 yard= 300 feet. So if you are seated in one end zone how small are the players in the other end zone. That ismin excess of 500 feet. So now do,you think you can see two,planes , almost a mile in the air and claim that there was a near miss? Does not matter if you use the top,or bottom of the airplane to measure altitude. Thanks to your wrong math, I have shown that johns claim is not to be considered reliable.


Posted by resident 1, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Jun 30, 2014 at 10:32 am

Thanks for the correction on math.
My question - there are a number of people that need to doubt what everyone says concerning airplane traffic over our heads.
What do these people do for a living? Work at the airport or some airport union that needs to discredit what anyone says?
Real estate - harder to sell homes if there is some contention regarding air traffic?
Legal who have the airport as a customer - or airport unions?
Airport employee who cannot be seeing supporting anything but a point of view that there is nothing going on that needs correction?
Some political angle in which they do not want involvement with the political scene regarding airplane traffic - which is somewhat contentious?

There is some underlying agenda that requires a see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil regarding airplane traffic. I am sure it is different for each individual unless they all work for the city who has said this is a hands-off topic. I can tell you who on the CC is in that boat.

Meanwhile the SF Chronicle, SJM, WSJ, NYT is reporting on near misses all over the country, the retiring of experienced pilots, the air controller issues concerning the training of the next batch of air controllers. the problems at SFO due to correction on some runways which is causing less facilities to handle the traffic. The press is not shy on this topic. The press is reporting on a regular basis of the problems in this dynamic situation with a huge number of moving parts.


Posted by Doubting Thomas, a resident of Midtown
on Jun 30, 2014 at 10:42 am

[Post removed.]


Posted by resident 1, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Jun 30, 2014 at 11:14 am

[Post removed due to deletion of referenced comment.}


Posted by Doubting Thomas, a resident of Midtown
on Jun 30, 2014 at 11:26 am

[Post removed due to deletion of referenced comment.}


Posted by Jetman, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 30, 2014 at 11:42 am

John,

Thank you for taking the time and effort to report your observation, and help keep the community informed. It is a shame that you have had to endure some of the comments here, for making an honest and well substantiated observation.


Posted by Midtowner, a resident of Midtown
on Jun 30, 2014 at 3:41 pm

John, I second Jetman in thanking you for your contribution, and lamenting the nasty comments made on you.

Unfortunately, we DO have an airplane noise/pollution/safety problem in Palo Alto. When airplanes fly this low and frequently over our city, we are subjected to unhealthy levels of noise and pollution, as well as a risk of accident.

Anyone concerned about the issue is welcome to join our group effort against it.

Contact us at

veroforyou@gmail.com

We have formed a group that has started actively organizing, including lobbying the City of Palo Alto to take action against this problem.


Posted by Rupert of henzau, a resident of Midtown
on Jun 30, 2014 at 3:52 pm

[Post removed.]


If you were a member and logged in you could track comments from this story.

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