Photo: Low-flying jetliner cruises the Coastside

Posted by on Tue, November 20, 2007

Don Baldwin
Renovated vintage 747 Pan Am "Clipper America" flying low over the Coastside

I was pleased to read that I was not the only person to see a low-flying 747 in the area yesterday.  Here’s the photo I took of it as it flew over Mavericks.  I am experiencing photographer’s lament, of course: if only I had been able to capture a landmark in the photo!

After first being startled that such a large passenger jet emerged from behind the lands-end cliff at Pillar Point and into my field of vision, I imagined—in a few nanoseconds—some possible explanations for this anomaly: 1). passenger jet in distress—but no visible signs of flight instability; 2). Air Force One—but no known disaster photo-opportunity and, besides, I’ve seen the real Air Force One and this isn’t it; 3). California One—maybe Arnold and Dianne have borrowed a squat version 747 from their corporate buddies and are circling the Bay Area continuously to monitor the oil spill cleanup, ever vigilant; 4). another Silicon Valley company has outfitted a 747 for business trips and has special permission to fly the scenic approach to Moffett Field.

Then I finally snapped the photo.  Thanks to your readers for publishing the explanation that the renovated vintage 747 Pan Am "Clipper America" was flying about.  Without image enhancement software, however, I cannot quite decipher the tail markings.  It does not look like Pan Am to me; I’m inclined to believe that Arnold and Dianne do, indeed, have their secret California One 747 and are being very vigilant on our behalf.

Don Baldwin

Comment 1
Tue, November 20, 2007 5:03pm
Sam Carrieri
All my comments

Cant really tell to good from the picture. But this may be Boeings 747SP a shorter version of its longer brother. The fusulage area aft of wings being shorter. The SP stood for “Special Performance”. Dont believe too many were built or were money makers for the airlines.

It was the San Jose Ballet doing a promotion, and those are dancers on the tail.  Here’s a picture:

Comment 3
Mon, November 26, 2007 8:38am
Susan Webb
All my comments

Don, great picture!  I’m looking for a camera to take shots of low flying planes.

Can you post the kind you were using?