Letter: Airliner over Montara?

Letter to the editor

Posted by on Mon, November 19, 2007

I was looking out my window towards Montara Beach tonight about an hour ago (5:00 PM) and saw what looked like a 737 flying less than 1,000 feet in a southbound direction over the old Chart House Restaurant. Very strange!  It looked like it was in an approach for the HMB airport.

I called the San Carlos Airport and they didn’t know anything about it. Did anyone else see this?

Bruce Hultgren

Comment 1
Mon, November 19, 2007 10:10pm
Linda Prieto
All my comments

You are not alone.  I too saw a small jumbo jet fly over Moss Beach this evening about 5 PM.  As described it was moving from north to south toward HMB airport at about 2,500 to 3,000 feet.  At the time it passed over our house it was making a slight left hand bank or adjustment and descending.  The same north to south approach to HMB airport was used by several private planes today.

I agree.  The jet looked to be a commercial jet but I could not make out the markings on the tail.


Comment 2
Mon, November 19, 2007 10:34pm
Leonard Woren
All my comments

“Small jumbo jet”?

Comment 3
Tue, November 20, 2007 12:08am
D. Blake
All my comments

About 4:45 PM while I was walking on Montara Beach, I saw a large passenger type plane flying north about 2000 feet over the ocean, following the coastline. It went out of my view when it flew parallel to the Devil’s Slide area. Then about 5:00 PM, I saw a large passenger type plane (it looked like the same plane) flying south, about 2000 feet over the ocean, following the coastline. It then began to bank to the east near the lighthouse and I assumed it would land at HMB Airport, though I wondered if the airport could handle a plane that size. The plane was gray and I didn’t see any markings on it. I have never seen a plane flying so close to the ocean. What was going on?

Flew very low right over my house, I would say approx. 1000 ft or less descending to Half Moon Bay Airport. Totally surprised me.

I also saw it over my house in Moss Beach, and it definately looked like a passenger jet.  My neighbor and I were both concerned it was a plane in trouble because it was descending, yet looked too large to be landing at HBM, and also too high.  It finally went out of sight flying south.  I actually came in to see if there was any news, but haven’t seen anything.

Very curious, would love to find out…

Comment 6
Tue, November 20, 2007 7:38am
All my comments

Did anyone one notice the plane trailing the commercial liner?

From my perspective it looked as if there was another plane following along. No idea if it was military or civilian.

Chris K Wensel

It was a promotional flight for a restored jetliner. A poster on the other chat site has links to news reports.

Sorry I missed it!


I saw it from Farallone Ave in Montara, it looked like it was almost at the tree line, a big passenger jet, four engines, American Airlines logo on the tail. It coasted lower as it passed, and then I heard the engines power up but it went out of sight below the trees!


Comment 9
Tue, November 20, 2007 10:25am
John O'Hara
All my comments

Low Flying Jet Over Bay Area Creates Alarm

SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) —A promotional flight for a vintage 747 caused some concern for people in the Bay Area Monday evening.
Several calls came into the KCBS newsroom about 5 p.m. from listeners worried that a low-flying jet heading north to Marin was not gaining altitude.

It turns out it was the inaugural flight for the original Pan Am Boeing 747 “Clipper America”, according to Ian Gregor with the Federal Aviation Administration.

The renovated plane was granted permission to fly between 1000 and 4000 feet on its tour of the Bay Area. That’s not an altitude considered exceptionally low, said Gregor. He said there was nothing to worry about.

John O’Hara


Could you send me that link (of the promotional flight)?  I can’t seem to find it.


The stories can be found at the following web addresses for KCBS and the County Times. Here you go:




This plane was heading north - right over my house, south of Pescadero Rd. at about 4:30 pm, and I was very worried. It was so loud, and I felt like the plane was just a stones throw away.

An FAA spokesman mentioned that this was a promotional celebration for a renovated Pan AM 747. He also mentioned that the plane was flying over 1000 ft, but I’d argue that!


The spokesman said that there isn’t any budget, or way to notify the public of this approval/event. But when I called 911, they had no idea or reports that this was happening.

Don’t you think that the FAA whould at least notify 911 response teams, especially after the tragedy on 9/11?!?

I agree with Jackson.  This jet was definitely lower than 1,000 feet.  I’d guess 3-400 feet.

Bruce Hultgren

Comment 15
Sun, December 9, 2007 10:25am
Frank Long
All my comments

..... and as a follow up to Jackson Robertson’s comment, you’d think at least SOMEONE would have been notified since the backwash of a plane that size could have easily disrupted the airspace of the many small aircraft that normally frequent the HMB airport. I mean how would it look if you were coming down the coast to do a touch-n-go at the HMB airport with your Cessna at 60 mph and from out of nowhere, this 747 creeps up behind you at no less than 200 mph? 

Planes that size, like large ships, should get out to open space ASAP.