An Aerial View Of The California Fire Destruction & Air Pollution

Sign up for daily news updates from CleanTechnica on email. Or follow us on Google News!

On my last flight to San Jose, California, on Thursday the 15th from Los Angeles, a 45-minute flight, I finally understood the extent of the current California fires. A bird eye’s view stretching from LA to San Francisco reveals what no TV or news can convey, the desolation of the land and the lingering pollution.

A Fine Layer Of Dust Over The Californian Landscape

The captain announced 2.5-mile visibility at San Jose. As soon as we reached 10,000 feet, the sad spectacle of the last fires in the Malibu canyon became obvious. You can see a few red trails lingering from the firefighter airplanes and helicopters dumping their fire-retardant liquid. The scenery stretched for miles of burnt, darkened landscape, as if someone had dumped fine powder over the mountains and ridges. I could barely make out the vegetation under the layer of dust.

As soon as I stepped out of the San Jose airport, it smelled as if everyone were barbecuing. My throat was already scratchy and my eyes runny from what we had in Los Angeles but it paled in comparison to what this part of the state is going through. By the end of the day, it became much worse.

Californian Fires
Picture taken at 12 PM San Jose airport, no filters were added.

It’s pure pollution, pardon the pun. There is an overhanging brownish layer that turns to orange as the afternoon nears.

Californian Fires
Both pictures were taken from the airplane at 12,000 ft over Malibu and central California with no filters added.

Last year’s fires were bad, but it was over in three days. These fires are two weeks in the making of never-ending smells and heavy particles in the air. To date, 60 people perished and hundreds are missing.

Californian Fires

I’m neither left or right, which can be tough in this polarized Republican versus Democrat force-fed war. And no, I don’t think people should capitalize on meaningless words when lives are at stake.

Californian Fires
This picture shows the extent of the smoke in the air at around 5 PM

Firefighters have been saving lives endangering their own. Their service is hard to overvalue at this stage. Since elected officials like to talk about leadership and heroes, watch this video below of a fire-fighting DC8. If you are passionate about flying, watch the finesse of the fire-fighting pilots’ skills as they maneuver this passenger-converted plane. It’s simply spectacular. It’s real life, not rehearsed ad lib. Watch how they negotiate the bank of the canyon, align the airplane above and next to the fire. Then watch what happens when the belly has been emptied dangerously pitching the nose of the aircraft up. Watch how these amazing skillful human beings put their lives at risk in order to slow down and contain the fire. Those pilots are quiet heroes. They just do what others talk about.

This video appeared in FlyingMag.

Miles Of Desolation, The Californian Fires Leave Dust In The Air

In a society desperately in need of heroes but looking to entertainment or politics, real heroes are quietly doing what they do best — getting the job done. Sadly, we should be talking about them louder than those neatly tucked away behind experts and coaches massaging their every word.

Californian Fires
This picture shows the quality of the air at 5:30 PM, usually lighter than that with spotlights behind a parked aircraft.

Those pictures were taken from my phone. Better ones will be available soon. We will surely have to revisit this topic.

Have a tip for CleanTechnica? Want to advertise? Want to suggest a guest for our CleanTech Talk podcast? Contact us here.

Latest CleanTechnica.TV Videos

CleanTechnica uses affiliate links. See our policy here.

Nicolas Zart

Nicolas was born and raised around classic cars of the 1920s, but it wasn't until he drove an AC Propulsion eBox and a Tesla Roadster that the light went on. Ever since he has produced green mobility content on various CleanTech outlets since 2007 and found his home on CleanTechnica. He grew up in an international environment and his communication passion led to cover electric vehicles, autonomous vehicles, renewable energy, test drives, podcasts, shoot pictures, and film for various international outlets in print and online. Nicolas offers an in-depth look at the e-mobility world through interviews and the many contacts he has forged in those industries. His favorite taglines are: "There are more solutions than obstacles." and "Yesterday's Future Now"

Nicolas Zart has 572 posts and counting. See all posts by Nicolas Zart