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'All-you-can-fly' airline flies past Palo Alto, lands in San Carlos

Original post made on Jul 11, 2013

Surf Air, the "all-you-can-fly" airline service that was supposed to take off from the Palo Alto Airport instead made a flyover, putting down wheels at the San Carlos airport.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Thursday, July 11, 2013, 9:29 AM

Comments (28)

Posted by Wil
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 11, 2013 at 10:24 am

This is great news!

Posted by Jim
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 11, 2013 at 11:08 am

This guy needs a geography lesson. San Carlos airport is a bit less than 10 miles north of Palo Alto's airport and roughly halfway to SFO.

Posted by neighbor
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Jul 11, 2013 at 11:14 am

Best news I've heard in awhile!!!! The low flying small planes buzzing the neighborhood are a pain -- especially at 1am.

Posted by Bruce
a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 11, 2013 at 12:45 pm

The 500 foot longer runway at San Carlos Airport is an important safety factor for planes and loadings this innovative airline flies.

However, San Carlos Airport has a few challenges of its own, not the least of which are a nearby radio tower and the Oracle buildings.

Posted by the_punnisher
a resident of Mountain View
on Jul 11, 2013 at 2:43 pm

the_punnisher is a registered user.

Remember, Hiller Aviation did the San Carlos thing, too.

A real moneymaker would be to do the same kind of service all over the Eastern side of the Rockies. That would serve cities from Amarillo to Cheyenne, with the complete I-25 corridor covered. No $$$ spent on climbing fuel costs as all cities are at the same level.

The Denver/Boulder corridor has a similar scattering of airports the way the SFBA has now.

You could call it AirWest because Howard Hughes is no longer using the name......

Posted by Get Em Back
a resident of Community Center
on Jul 11, 2013 at 2:45 pm

How quick can we add 501 feet to our runway?

Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jul 11, 2013 at 4:48 pm

Palo Alto 2443 feet, San Carlos 2600 feet, difference 157 feet.

Both have a good 200 feet of over-run at each end, and both are rather unforgiving beyond that.

I've been tempted to ask Surf Air what they'd charge me for a single Santa Barbara round trip. United out of SFO is $800 to $1250 depending on availability, and about 90 minutes gate to gate, or twice that if via LAX. Driving down 101 (non-rush-hour) is 5 hours and $40 gas each way; no premium for double occupancy.

Most small aircraft anyone might hear at 1am are helicopters having little to do with Palo Alto airport. Helicopters are noisier and fly lower and slower. A news or law-enforcement helicopter can be quite obnoxious. A medi-vac helicopter on the other hand can be a welcome sound, and not as disturbing as the sirens on street ambulances.

Posted by mutti
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jul 11, 2013 at 7:36 pm

Best 'new' airline around is Allegiant. They travel from Oakland to other small regional airports -- Mesa, AZ, Idaho Falls, ID, Provo, UT, etc. Tickets can cost as little as $35 each leg! They charge extra for carryon bags, for seat reservations, etc. But it's still a real bargain. Maybe they'll start flying into Palo Alto. It's about the same size airport as Provo.

Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jul 11, 2013 at 10:01 pm

Provo 8600 feet, 3.5 times longer than Palo Alto and twice as wide.

Posted by Wil
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 12, 2013 at 8:31 am

> Most small aircraft anyone might hear at 1am are
> helicopters having little to do with Palo Alto airport.

Depends on the number of flights, the time of year, where you happen to live (like close to the airport), and whether the pilots follow the flight paths--or just do what they want.

You are right about helicopters being quite noisy, and flying lower. They fly over my home frequently, and are very annoying.

Posted by neighbor
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Jul 12, 2013 at 11:29 am

@musical -- I wish it was only helicopters, but it is not (it's pretty easy to tell the difference, actually). Definitely small craft planes buzzing away; have been tempted to record it and send to the city council. They do night landings at PA and come in very low.

And speaking of aircraft noise pollution -- SFO has definitely changed flight patterns at various, non-weather-related times. If you watch the radar monitoring, there seem to be clusters of time when planes going to SFO fly directly over Palo Alto at under 5000feet. Have lived here 20+ years and have noticed a significant difference in frequency and volume over the past year. Not sure what's up with that.

Posted by Surfs up
a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Jul 12, 2013 at 2:11 pm

Wise choice by Surf Air. Definitely worth the extra mileage to avoid a community noted for complainers. San Carlos is an excellent choice with an aggressive business atmosphere and definitely a more mature operational city government plus city residents who appreciate the value of business's who bring added revenue into the community. Palo Alto's City Manager and City Council have no community value or leadership skills. Residents seem to enjoy complaining. What a pity!

Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jul 12, 2013 at 5:19 pm

@neighbor, thanks for the response. Most of what I hear in the wee hours are helicopters. Odd that pilots would fly over the Greenmeadow neighborhood on approach to Palo Alto airport, but I guess after Moffett Tower closes at 11pm its airspace is up for grabs. Day or night, small planes should stay above 1500 feet until crossing 101. SFO lays claim to everything above 4000 feet here -- I don't know the rhyme or reason to their flight paths.

Posted by CrescentParkAnon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 14, 2013 at 12:42 pm

Why .... were the skies over Palo Alto too crowded ?

It seems like every time I got out to the Baylands for a walk ... parking at Byxbee park, I cannot help but notice that planes are taking off and landing constantly. It creates a zone of noise over almost the entire Baylands area making it difficult to talk to someone, and even difficult to listen to headphones without upping the volume to 11.

Posted by CrescentParkAnon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 14, 2013 at 12:50 pm

> Most small aircraft anyone might hear at 1am are helicopters having little to do with Palo Alto airport.

Do you live in Palo Alto, or do you just have super sound-proofing?

There are many aircraft that fly over Palo Alto late at night or early in the morning. They are quite loud and if you care to you can check it out. During the hot summer nights I like to sleep with my windows open and when these planes go by they constantly wake me up enough to notice it, and then I fall back to sleep. The problem is that quality of sleep is lessened when one is woken up several times a night by things like this. I am talking about noise loud enough to slightly vibrate houses in the area.

Nothing is perfect but this virtually never used to happen in Palo Alto and I don't see why it is now. What changed allowing or pushing pilots to fly over Palo Alto at such low altitudes. I thought jet airplanes were supposed to be quieter these days?

There are also a lot of small planes that buzz over Palo Alto all day everyday. Some of these are loud and flying low enough to be a nuisance, many are high enough that they do not matter much.

Posted by CrescentParkAnon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 14, 2013 at 12:55 pm

By the way ... did anyone in the Crescent Park area notice a red helicopter flying very low overhead about 2 weeks back for about 4 days in a row?

I was in my back yard gardening when it started to resemble Apocalypse Now. I looked up and there was this helicopter circling very low overhead leaving and returning. I got it on video it was so low ... and I thought that was the end of it. It came back for about 4 days in a row just patrolling or circling, or whatever helicopters do. Kind of irritating after the initial coolness wears off ... plus I thought it might be the NSA checking out our back yards. ;-)

Posted by neighbor
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Jul 15, 2013 at 12:17 am

The SFO traffic patterns are very interesting -- I've always noticed that they change when weather affects landing ability and noise goes up as a result. I haven't really minded that because it only happens on occasion and the planes are only moderately loud. That noise is very different than the patterns I've seen over the past 6 months or so -- low, noisy planes flying directly over Palo Alto (SFO flights, not PA airport). The planes are so low that the whining of the engines is very, very loud. This has slowed down over the past two weeks, but still pops up on some days. I used to be able to sit in my backyard and hear the birds, squirrels, and neighborhood kids, but now hear plane engines that can go on and on for hours. My hope is that this was a temporary thing while perhaps changes were being made at SFO.

Posted by Not enough traffic
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 15, 2013 at 9:09 am

The endless complaints about SFo would be taken more seriously if people would leave out the embelishments (i.e. but now hear plane engines that can go on and on for hours.)
I guess SFO will have to shut down.

Posted by CrescentParkAnon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 15, 2013 at 6:07 pm

"Not enough traffic" ... it is one thing to embellish a story, but you are assuming that in order to attack someone else's comment you disagree with. If you go out to the baylands and stand anywhere in Byxbee park you can hear for yourself how often planes go over.

I think what I've heard is many people say - something has changed because they are hearing more airplane noise ... from all sources, SFO included.

At the same time you attack other people for what you assume is an embellishment, you say "I guess SFO will have to shut down."

Kind of hard to see the point in your post.

Posted by Not an issue
a resident of Community Center
on Jul 15, 2013 at 6:48 pm

CPA--- not sure why you think NET's comment is an "attack" . But it seems you are doing the same thing--- " attacking" someone else. Or are you following the " Jim burch" rules--- any criticism is considered a personal attack

Posted by Rational
a resident of Downtown North
on Jul 16, 2013 at 11:40 pm

Surf Air: ok, I suppose San Carlos is a bit cheaper too.
SFO: arrivals from the North West often cross the MENLO waypoint for a U-Turn to line up with SFO's runway 28Left/Right (which faces generally West). I have not noticed any change in the past few months, perhaps airplanes were flying slower/getting closer as they shut down 28L last week. Maybe it's the hot weather which has everyone out/with open windows?
Palo Alto airport: Byxbee is on final approach and most of baylands park is within the traffic pattern of Palo Alto airport. This airport has an important economic, social welfare and recreational function. The traffic goes up when the economy is doing well, which it is right now. So that would explain that.

Posted by Jetman
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Nov 5, 2013 at 10:12 pm

If you think commercial aircraft noise over Palo Alto has increased in the last few months... you are correct. In August 2013 the South China Morning Post reported that the FAA, in response to the Asiana crash at SFO, had begun advising Foreign Airlines to stop using the 5,000’ visual approach to SFO, and to only fly 3,000' GPS final approach routes. These overseas flights, which typically use larger four engined craft, are the jets rattling your windows, and vibrating your walls.

The smaller craft that emit a high pitched whistle are flying a new approach to SFO known as "NextGen" which the FAA began to roll-out at Bay Area airports in January 2013. Under "NextGen", aircraft "coast" down from altitude at high speed along several precisely navigated approaches. If you live under one of the "NextGen" approach routes, you better get used to it. The precision navigation used in the "Nextgen" system will channel air traffic into several narrow flight paths, and allow air traffic control to use much smaller aircraft-to-aircraft spacing.

Under the prevailing westerly winds, there are five basic approach routes to SFO. Three of the five routes fly directly over Palo Alto. "NextGen" approach routes typically overlay existing conventional approach routes.

Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Nov 6, 2013 at 1:54 am

Why the multiple posts? You're making more noise than the airplanes.

Posted by Carpenter
a resident of Menlo Park
on Nov 20, 2013 at 9:13 pm

We just bought a house in the Fair Oaks section of Menlo Park. When we bought the home (in June) there was no mention of a new airline starting up that would be flying out of San Carlos and using a flight path over our home. The Pilatus aircraft being used is turbo prop which is very noisy compared to a standard prop and reciprocating engine. At the Atherton City Council meeting tonight Surf Air was a topic on the agenda and the noise issue was a lengthy one with at least twenty five people attending from the Fair Oaks area. All people are complaining about suddenly being on a flight path with one particular user being noisy and annoying and wanting the flight path for these aircraft alter in the either the altitude of the approach or the direction of the approach. San Carlos Airport (SQL) already has a noise abatement plan as part of the approach and departure plan over the west side (Redwood Shores and Oracle Corporation) so I think the same should apply to the eastern approach/departure path. I was mentioned that Surf Air intends to increase the number of flights in and out so this is the time to make corrections to the issue

Posted by resident
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Nov 21, 2013 at 11:14 am

PA is at the mile juncture in which the west to east planes turn to go up the north approach to SFO. The planes on the trans-pacific flights are the big boys that start at 4:30 AM. In addition Delta has started a LA to SFO hourly flight - departures out of LA come over the coastline and turn in at the 17 mile mark to head up for the north approach. The planes have to coordinate their place in the line-up at this time so much adjustment to air speed. I called SFO when I noticed planes now going east to west in the same flight path - probably from Oakland. Since this is directly over my head it is highly noticeable. I think PA airport may be at the edge of the San Jose departures which have a north departure then turn east. A lot of traffic overhead - SJ and SFO have priority. Yes - they are suppose to be at different altitudes but when there is cloud cover the sound is intensified. Planes are getting bigger, carrying more people, and are used for the trans-pacific flights from Asia.
I laugh when everyone complains about the train noise - at least they are on the ground and on rails.

Posted by resident
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Nov 21, 2013 at 7:27 pm

One other thought - small planes are at a limited altitude for arrival and departure. If Surf is a somewhat larger plane than it should probably be baked into the FAA air control tower direction so it is matrixed into the overall air controller control. Need to check plane size, noise level, and SFO air controller to see if it is in their view.
Other recent complications are the LA problems that caused planes to be re-directed. Other problem is if plane feels it cannot land it requests a second attempt which pulls it around again to get in line. The north arrival line needs to be qualified by 13 miles from SFO.

Posted by resident
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Dec 1, 2013 at 12:30 pm

In the SF Chronicle today 12/01/13 - Matier & Ross they confirmed that the air traffic at SFO has increased greatly as some airlines are leaving Oakland to base at SFO. In August - the Asiana flight was too low, too slow, and disoriented due to pilots lack of training on that plane. They had never been to SFO before. The Air Control System was on sight landing. That is a very confusing situation if they have to cross the air traffic pattern for San Carlos. Someone needs to check if Surf was in the vicinity that day at that time. Possible confusion causing crash. Too much traffic in too closed a space.

Posted by Appreciative
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Dec 2, 2013 at 3:22 pm

After reading about how Surf Air's noise pollution annoys Atherton residents 'round the clock, I am really glad they decided not to use PA Airport!

They did us a favor by choosing San Carlos.

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