Who Is Flying Over Bernal Heights (And Where They Are Going)?


After I got home late last Friday night, I wandered into my back yard for a moment to savor the silvery light of the full moon. But I also got a bonus treat: I watched a jet pass by high overhead, creating a fluffy contrail that divided the night sky into two neat halves — as you can see in the photo above.

I’ve written before about the map which shows the major air routes that pass over Bernal Heights:

Yet as handy as that map is for making general sense of the activity that takes place in the skies above us, it’s also fun to know the specifics. Like, exactly what kind of jet is that passing overhead? And where did it come from? And where is it going?

That’s what I wondered as a meditated on the spectacle of the aircraft streaking silently through the clear Bernal night. Yet because we live in an age of high-tech wonders, I didn’t have to wonder for long. In fact, there’s an app for that.

I reached for my phone, and opened Plane Finder, a $4.99 app for the iPhone or iPad that monitors the ADS-B tracking data transmitted by commercial aircraft to generate a near-realtime air traffic radar map.  So when I wanted to find out about the plane I spotted over Bernal Heights, here’s what I saw:

That showed me the flightpath. Then I touched the plane icon, to learn more:

Voila! The plane I saw passing over Bernal a little after 1 am on Friday night was a China Southern Airlines Boeing 777-200, traveling almost 32,000 feet overhead, en route from Los Angeles to Guangzhou, China.

Personally, I find there’s something oddly satisfying about having access to this information; It makes the planes I see overhead feel more neighborly, because I can picture where they came from, where they’re going, and the kind of people who are likely sitting inside.

And as those passengers stare down at us, many would probably feel a similar sense of connection, if only they could dial up an app that presented a view that looks something like this:

PHOTOS: Telstar Logistics

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13 Responses to Who Is Flying Over Bernal Heights (And Where They Are Going)?

  1. rolfsf says:

    You can also use the Wolfram Alpha app on your iPhone and type “planes overhead”


  2. Greg Dicum says:

    “if only they could dial up an app that presented a view that looks something like this”

    here you go: http://mondowindow.com

    web based for now; app on its way

  3. Plane Finder also has an AR app — you point your phone skyward and it overlays flight info. Wobbly but cool.

  4. Bronwyn Ximm says:

    I know someone who’s working on that app.

  5. GARY says:

    BUT the speed is incorrect, the 777-200 cruises at about 562 mph, not 1174, that is over mach 1 the speed of sound (768mph at sea level)

  6. Man, I totally want that what’s-on-the-ground-out-your-window app.

  7. Dude, really, I am going to lose an entire mornings productivity thanks to this. The officed I am at is at the end of the runway of OAK.

  8. Pingback: Bernal Meteor « Burrito Justice

  9. Pingback: Air Passenger Snaps Sweeping Aerial Photo of Bernal Heights | Bernalwood

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