An Aerial View Of The California Fire Destruction & Pollution In The Air

Air Quality

Published on November 17th, 2018 |
by Nicolas Zart

November 17th, 2018 by Nicolas Zart 

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.

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Tags: California, California fires, Californian Fire, DC8, DC8 fire fighter, firefighters, Pollution, soot, Wildfires

About the Author

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. Eager to spread the news of that full torque, he was invited to write for various CleanTech outlets in 2007.

Since then, his passion led to cover renewable energy, test drives, podcasts, shoot pictures, and film for various international outlets both 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. He particularly enjoys communicating about the new e-mobility technology and what it means to us as a society.

Today he focuses most of his writing effort on CleanTechnica, a global online outlet that covers the world of electric vehicles and renewable energy.

His favorite tagline is: “There are more solutions than obstacles.”

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