San Francisco By Air. By Owen Zupp.

Owen Zupp - Thursday, February 22, 2018




What’s one to do, having flown across the Pacific to San Francisco? Well, I guess going flying sounds good. However, to see the city on the bay in all its majesty, I chose to take a scenic flight in a helicopter, although I did manage to organise the best seat in the house - up front and alongside the pilot.

On this occasion, the pilot was the Chief Pilot at San Francisco Helicopters, Ron Carter. With more than 13,000 hours, Ron is a seasoned aviator and having gained the ‘thumbs up’ from his passengers, eased the Bell 407 into the air from the company’s Suasalito helipad.

One thing that I’ve always enjoyed about helicopters is the immediacy of flying. There is no taxing to the holding point, well along the ground anyway. Once you decide to move in a helicopter, you are flying.

Through the clear nose-section beneath my feet, I saw the helipad fall away before we departed to the west and over the hills towards the Pacific Ocean, levelling out at 2,000 feet. Ron pointed out all manner of features ranging from old fortifications to the magnificent Golden Gate Bridge. Crossing the water we descended as we approached the southern shore, before turning back towards the bridge.

The winds of the previous day had abated, but their aftermath was a calm sky of unlimited visibility as the massive orange span of the Golden Gate passed beneath us. Ron then informed us that given the wonderful conditions, we were in for a treat.

He lowered the nose of the Bell and descended in a smooth arc before sweeping beneath the historic bridge, the water rushing beneath the skids. Then, with minimal effort, the helicopter pitched up into a climbing left turn and back over the Golden Gate. Wow!



From there we tracked back towards the city, noting historic landmarks, the stadium that the San Francisco Giants baseball team call home and the world-renowned Fisherman’s Wharf. At every turn, there was something to see, with Ron’s narration in perfect synchronisation. With the city’s towers to our left, we made our way to the Bay Bridge that spans across to Oakland, before turning back to the city and then onto the infamous Alcatraz.
Sitting in the bay, this island prison was once home to the likes of Al’ Capone with its frigid waters providing a major deterrent to escape, despite the proximity of the city just across the way. Juxtaposed to this scene of human confinement, sail boats and tourist vessels clipped across the water with absolute freedom.

From Alcatraz, there was one more pass of the Golden Gate Bridge. Sitting alongside, Ron brought the Bell 407 into the hover before smoothly rotating the helicopter through 360 degrees to offer the ultimate panorama of this beautiful city.



Thirty minutes had passed all too soon and we returned to the Sausalito helipad with a descending turn and a gentle touchdown. Disembarking, I made my way clear of the spinning rotor before turning and grabbing one last photo of the gleaming red helicopter, then the ground staff ushered me into position for a ‘selfie’ with my phone.

With a camera full of photos and a mind full of memories, the shuttle returned me to the hotel. What a tremendous day and what a magnificent way to see the beautiful city of San Francisco. I highly recommend the experience.




Purchase Owen's Books

Recent Posts


flying training aviation author australian aviation WW2 Pearl Harbor RAF Air Medal podcast 50 tales of flight how to land an airplane terrorism airliner missing R-DX aviation jobs planes aviation book US Air Medal The Pilots Blog flying owen zupp MH370 airbus A350 XWB buying an airplane airliner how to become an author 737 Australian Aviation magazine P-51 Mustang Airbus A320 Without Precedent airline learning to fly September 11th aviator 50 More Tales of Flight aeroplane Australian Army safer flying ANZAC flying blog the pilot's blog Amazon Kindle Daily Deal Battle of Britain Down to Earth student pilot plane crash Solo Flight Australia. Bush Pilot airshow Queenstown pilot blog owen zupp author anzac day Pilatus PC-21 pilot training cost of flying writer's block UAV solo flight Vietnam War how to land an aeroplane best aviation blog Boeing pilot suicide The Practical Pilot airlines Hurricane September 11 pilot jobs Sully the Movie Korean War aviation speaker solo flight. australia Around Australia flight aerospace jabiru pilot aviation careers landing an airplane speaking 77 Squadron QANTAS Airbus A380 flight RAAF PC-21 flying school turning forty aviation best seller RAAF aviation journalist QANTAS A380 airbus buying an aeroplane Ansett popular aviation blog QANTAS flight training Kim Jong-un aviation writer solo flight australia airplane warbird most popular aviation blog careers in aviation speaker aviation aviation story author flying instructor aircraft aviation blog comfort zone Sully flight school aeroplane blog learn to fly Airbus A380 Jabiru Aircraft Air France 447 P2902 WW1 Malaysia Airlines Dunkirk pilot careers 9/11 aviaton author aircraft accident writer Phillip Zupp 787 choosing a flying school


© Owen Zupp. All rights Reserved.                                             Admin . Privacy . Disclaimer                                            Website by Shot to Pieces . Powered by Blackroom