The Airplanes Are Off Course Over Point Loma and OB, Again

by on April 10, 2019 · 50 comments

in Ocean Beach

San Diego Airport is One of Most Dangerous in Nation; Airplanes Drop Black Soot On Those Below

By Judi Curry

As I write this, it’s Sunday, April 7, 2019.  Between the minutes of 6:31am and 6:52am I reported planes off course 6 times.  They were flying quite a bit south of the OB Pier and very close to Pt. Loma Avenue.

This is not the first time this has happened, and as we get closer to summer and more and more tourists coming to San Diego this is going to get worse.

For those of you that tell me that the airport was here before me, let me reiterate that we purposely bought our house where we did because it was NOT in the flight pattern.  The airplanes that flew out of the San Diego Airport were not the large jets that fly out of there now. Those planes did not drop black soot on everything that it flew over, and they NEVER flew over our house.

For those of you that tell me to suck it up and accept it – or move – let me tell you that we had the opportunity of moving the airport and it was not done.  The San Diego International Airport is a dangerous airport, particularly when foggy, which it is often. It is listed as the 5th most dangerous airport in the United States. We have some excellent pilots that are able to navigate the one runway in dangerous situations. We are lucky that they have not “landed” on the Laurel Street Parking Structure – yet.   I do not have to accept it; they infringed on my life, and will continue to do so if people do not complain to the FAA.

When Terminal One is complete and we have twice as many passengers coming into San Diego, it is going to get worse.

And I am not worried only about accidents; I am worried about what this horrible sticky black stuff is doing to the lungs of those of us living in the area.  We are breathing it in every single day. My husband died of lung cancer and the cause was never determined. Yes, he was a smoker for 30 years, and yes he quit smoking for another 35 years; but we also lived in an area where airplanes began to invade our space. I remember picking oranges that we so black that I had to scrub them with a brush to clean them.  We never eat the skins of the fruit of our trees; we could never get the soot off the peaches and/or apricots even when we tried.

Those of you that are content with the airport where it is do not have to scold or reprimand me for wanting it moved. Many of you are the same people that chided me when I said I wanted Sea World to stop having fireworks every night. You are also probably the same people that like the Miramar Air Show or don’t mind the airplanes landing in Coronado but first coming over the Point.

If it makes you feel better to tell me to “shut up and move” I want you to know that I will never do either of those two things. I am concerned about the environment; the pollution; the potential for accident.  I am concerned that the quality of life for those of us living in Pt. Loma/ Ocean Beach is drastically changing and it is something that we have more control over than we think.

So call “Airport Noise” when planes go where they shouldn’t be going; call “Airport Noise” when the planes are too low over your house; call “Airport Noise” when you think there is a missed approach. And, if you do not want to call them (619-400-2799) get yourself a button from Amazon and push it every time there is an infringement over your area.  Don’t be complacent and sit back and do nothing. Put Airport Noise on your memory dial; keep the button near-by. Someday I hope you don’t have to use either one!

Just for your information: Here is a copy of my noise complaints last week:

{ 50 comments… read them below or add one }

Gary Wonacott April 10, 2019 at 2:00 pm

The Airport Authority Noise Abatement Office continues to prove that they cannot be trusted. In the past few weeks, at the most recent ANAC TAC and CAC meetings they introduced the new proposed nighttime departures. The new nighttime departures post 10 pm show a clear violation of the nighttime noise abatement procedure that has been in place since the late 1990s. We have already shown that the Airport Authority and or the FAA have been in violation of the Agreement going back at least since 2012, as there are clearly two departure tracks instead of the one 290 track that all post 10 pm aircraft are supposed to be on. Now, it appears that they plan to eliminate the 290 altogether and put all of the aircraft on PADRZ. The number of noise complaints in Mission Beach has increased from just a few each quarter to more than 9,000 in the last 30 day report. The gross underestimate of projected operations out to 2035 is just another example of the deceit that comes out of this organization.


judi curry April 10, 2019 at 2:25 pm

Thank you, Gary. Is there a viable solution that we, the residents, can follow?


Michael April 10, 2019 at 2:25 pm

Someone needs to change the name of this site to OBRAGE.COM.

I feel so bad for you Judi. Try and find some peace. Some battles are worth fighting, but this town is too beautiful and this life is too short to be angry all the time. I probably live close to you and never notice any black soot. Newer jet engines really are quieter. I wish they didn’t fly over my house either, but there’s an airport downtown. Voters determined they didn’t want it moved. The MCAS airshow is loved by many. I personally like seeing the $150M aircraft my tax dollars have gone toward.

Have a wonderful weekend (despite the aircraft noise) and I’m sorry for the loss of your husband.


Pete R April 10, 2019 at 2:41 pm

Sorry if I’m late to the party, but 2 questions to help me understand:
1. How do you know when a particular plane is “off course”?
2. What list shows SD Airport as the 5th most dangerous airport in America?


michael April 10, 2019 at 6:09 pm

Not sure the list but here are the factors: busiest single runway in America, short runway, proximity to population centers and steep approach angle. At least the weather is usually good. Last accident happened in 1978 and had nothing to do with the runway.


S.M. Sugar April 10, 2019 at 3:12 pm

I live on Rue D’Orleans and knew I was in the flight path when I moved here. I did not know about all the jet fuel we would be exposed to. It covers my balcony and everything on it. I have to constantly clean everything. Even worse that means we are breathing this in everyday. I wish I had been made aware of this before I moved here. That can’t be good for our health.


Richard Hayes April 10, 2019 at 3:23 pm

If this is the worst thing happening in your day to day life, I’d chalk it up as win. Life is too short and the “OB Pause” has been an accepted thing for many years now. Let it go, you’ll be a lot less stressed.


SCT April 10, 2019 at 4:41 pm

Here’s another survey of airport dangers – Lindbergh’s not even in the top 20. Don’t you love how some people just make stuff up?


judi April 11, 2019 at 10:44 am

Before you accuse people of making things up I suggest that you do some research.


Joe April 11, 2019 at 12:39 pm

FYI, that article is from 1988.


Jeff April 12, 2019 at 7:30 pm

Yeah, pretty dated. Like ridiculously dated. Orange County has a runway less than 6,000 feet long. Talk about pucker factor. Burbank, Midway in Chicago. If Lindbergh is dangerous, then those are far worse.


SCT April 10, 2019 at 4:43 pm

And another survey – Lindbergh does make this one but at number 9, not 5.


Frank Gormlie April 11, 2019 at 12:22 pm

SCT – what do you do? Defend airports or airport construction contractors in court? One of the reasons pilots have said there have no crashes at San Diego is because it is so dangerous, they’re white-knuckling it all the way in.


retired botanist April 10, 2019 at 4:54 pm

Hate to say it, but the noise button is just a ‘smart scam’…designed to make you feel better that your voice is being heard, but it amounts to ZERO. Nor do logging complaints via telephone and form-filing. Believe me, I’ve logged many dozens of complaints by phone and online for chronic violations. For me, the lack of effective response is almost as rage-inducing as the disturbance and pollution.
Working for an environmental consulting firm, I was involved in the Tier I Alternate Location Assessment that was conducted in the early 2000s. We assessed about 18 locations, each comprised of ca. 2,500 acres, including off shore, Miramar, a combined Tijuana San Ysidro, east county etc. etc. The criteria ranged in everything from habitat and sensitive species constraint to population displacement, traffic congestion, commuter distance.
In short, there were several suitable alternative locations, but none of which were 10 minutes from downtown San Diego…NOTHING HAPPENED.
And nothing continues to happen more than 10 yrs later, except the expansion of a seriously dangerous airport!! It is an outrageous situation waiting for another disaster, or someone finally winning a lawsuit over pollution effects on the residential population.
I feel sorry for homeowners who have no recourse. The airport noise abatement folks are a COMPLETE waste of time and $, and I encourage you to keep washing your fruit, filter your windows, and turn up your TV.
For those like Michael, who say the voters didn’t want it moved, he lives nearby, and he loves the air shows, and that’s what he wants his tax $s spent on, well, ok, so we will drill down on him when the lawsuits emerge, as they, inevitably, will.


Paul Shames April 10, 2019 at 6:15 pm

I looked at WebTrak for Sunday morning (April 7). It shows that every plane, that takes off and then makes the turn around Point Loma to head east, goes directly over Ocean beach (not Point Loma Ave, but I imagine it would sound loud if there is cloud cover). The planes that head north all make a slight turn to head out over the San Diego river before turning north over the ocean around Mission beach. I looked at planes from 6:30 to 7:30 and they all did the exact same pattern. I then went back to beginning of January, and it is the same pattern. Sorry to say, WebTrak did not have data for last year, so I don’t know if/when this was ever different. I have a vague recollection that all the planes used to make the slight turn over the San Diego river before turning north or south, but I am not sure. Does anyone know?


Michael April 10, 2019 at 6:06 pm

So the retired plant person is a lawyer now. You may not like the result, but the voters decided this in 2006. Why do you think housing prices are lower here than Bird Rock, La Jolla and Del Mar?

You can’t get the airplane discount and then complain about the airplanes.

I just feel bad for the homeowners who bought their home before the airport was built…oh wait, there are none.


retired botanist April 10, 2019 at 8:14 pm

Really, Michael? No, I’m obviously not a lawyer. Why so defensive? I stated my involvement in this issue plainly- I worked on a comprehensive analysis that addressed the potential of siting the airport in a different location. The conclusion was, there were viable alternatives to keeping the airport in its current, dangerous location. The voters? Although it really shouldn’t even be asked in the interest of the public safety of anyone, 100 or 1,000 individuals, what percentage did not reside in affected areas? Property values in other areas vs. OB?! I don’t know, but it fortunately doesn’t factor in my personal opinion on risk analysis.
For goodness sake, its not about whether homeowners bought their properties before or after the construction of the airport! Or, is everything about money now? As Chris plainly states below, its about convenience, and the noise and pollution don’t bother him. The military didn’t want to relinquish land, and nobody wants to commute 20 miles to an airport… among other political reasons. At some point, this mindset of “I’ve got mine, Charlie” will snap back.
Airplane discount? I don’t even know what that is.
So if you feel fine about public safety (let’s just remove home ownership from the convo for one freakin’ second) and sleep well at night, aren’t you lucky.


Michael April 10, 2019 at 10:29 pm

The voters? Although it really shouldn’t even be asked in the interest of the public safety of anyone, 100 or 1,000 individuals.
**My response: The last accident was 40 years ago and had nothing to do with the airport.**


what percentage did not reside in affected areas?

**My response: Is there a place to put the airport where no one is affected?**


Property values in other areas vs. OB?! I don’t know, but it fortunately doesn’t factor in my personal opinion on risk analysis.

**My response: You bought your house at a discount unless you are 90+ years old.**


The military didn’t want to relinquish land, and nobody wants to commute 20 miles to an airport.

My response: I’d be happy to fly out of Miramar. I fly about 25X per year and the city streets around SAN make it difficult. SAN is a terrible airport compared to the competition (i.e. lounges, food, security, access, parking….)


Airplane discount? I don’t even know what that is.
**Housing is cheaper here than areas without airplane noise. The airport has existed way before you bought your home. In fact, jet engines have become quieter and there are very few 4 engine planes leaving SAN. Those are the worst. **


So if you feel fine about public safety (let’s just remove home ownership from the convo for one freakin’ second) and sleep well at night, aren’t you lucky.

**My Response: Are you really worried about an airplane falling on your head? I frankly find it shocking that a little Cessna can hover over a residential area. That is except here. Due to commercial traffic we are exempt from the hapless single engine flyer.**



retired botanist April 11, 2019 at 5:41 am

Well, I’ve never been a homeowner in San Diego so my issues have nothing to do with property values or home-owning, although I genuinely feel sorry for those who now find their asset sitting under a time bomb. But I was a renter living on Voltaire St for 4 years, cleaning inches of sticky, black particulate matter (jet fuel is the largest unregulated source of carbon pollution in the US) off my windows. I more or less gave up watching television since the decibels of the TV couldn’t compete w/ the decibels of the jet engines. Dozens of my logged complaints came back with the “bad weather” excuse, and I won’t even bother taking up column space with the numerous other excuses for exceeding noise, flying too low, or flying after 11pm.
And the last airplane accident, resulting in 4 ground fatalities, occurred in 2008…unless the fact that it was a military plane exempts that, too?


Chris April 11, 2019 at 4:51 pm

Everyone to some degree has an “I got mine” mentality. That’s exactly why I said one person’s nightmare is another person’s dream. If the airport were to actually move to Miramar (and be dual use with The Marines) oh I bet that would very much be a nightmare for many in the area. At the same time, others in that very same area would welcome it due to the new found convenience and then people in my situation would miss the convenience we are used to. No mater what happens, everyone will not be happy. As for the safety issue there unfortunately may not be a solution.


Jeff April 10, 2019 at 6:28 pm

In your table the distance to all of those planes is listed as over a mile. How can they possibly be over you?


Chris April 10, 2019 at 6:31 pm

I guess as the saying goes, one person’s nightmare is another person’s dream. I live in Hillcrest and hear the plane’s a lot, but I’m used to it. Can’t say I’ve experienced the black soot. I fly frequently and it’s always a short Lyft ride to the airport so I would miss the convenience if it were to move.


citizzzzen April 10, 2019 at 9:07 pm

if you don’t think there is black soot emitted from airplanes burning jet fuel via internal combustion, i’ve got a bridge to sell you in Brooklyn. better yet, go to any of the many marinas surrounding harbor and shelter islands and give one of the boats docked there the white glove treatment. you’ll see.

yes, having the airport downtown is wildly convenient. it can still be dangerous and create noise pollution. regarding the latter, the problem cannot be eliminated, but it can be managed. that is, in concept, what the noise abatement office should be doing. that they are not effective at enforcing the rules that are in place is a systemic failure. lodging noise complaints is precisely the right approach, in addition to attending public meetings, bringing the issue up to our elected officials, and otherwise being an active, participatory citizen.

it’s puzzling to me when someone takes the time to comment something like ol’ michael, above. “life is short, smell the roses” says the person writing comments on irony is not dead, apparently.

more importantly, do you understand who you are defending? the motivating factors for pushing back against the noise abatement / FCC rules are strictly economic: 1) fly shorter routes in and out of SD and 2) fly more planes in and out of san diego. there is perhaps a small, ancillary benefit shared by all SD citizens associated with the positive economic impact of increasing visitors and in competition to provide low-cost airfare. but the corners they are cutting here are brought to you be the same geniuses that disguised actual costs into “optional” baggage fees and the like. on one side you have a concerned citizen calling in legitimate complaints about activities that contravene FCC regulations, and on the other you have the airline industry. you choose to defend the later. lord have mercy.


Dan April 11, 2019 at 6:22 pm

Well said.


Carter April 10, 2019 at 10:40 pm

How are you people are okay with this Airport being where it is ? What is the IQ lebel in this city ? Are you people serious about trying to keep the Airport where it is ? I mean how could you be okay with the noise and the nasty pollution that we all breathe from every single airplane landing and taking off ? I had to deal with so many sleepless nights in AirportLoma ( because Point Loma is basically a runway ) and the fatigue from inhaling the jet fuel day in day out…. wake up people you all glorify this city too much but there are a lot of things wrong here , besides the robbery like rents and stressed out people who want to murder each other every single day because it is outrageously expensive to be here. Hopefully one day one of those Airplanes do crash and then they decide to do something about it. And San Diego is one of the worst cities in this nation !!!


Chris April 11, 2019 at 9:00 pm

You people? LOLZ!!! Wow arnt’t you the righteous “woke” one. While you bring up some valid complaints, you kind of lose credibility when saying “you people”. Everyone dosent see things your way any more than than my way. But you moved to PL knowing full well the airport situation. And yes some of us DO like where it is.


Chris April 11, 2019 at 9:22 pm

And if SD is so terrible, Lindbergh has flights leaving every day.


Frank Gormlie April 12, 2019 at 9:29 am

The OB Rag is proposing we stop calling the San Diego International Airport after a Nazi and Hitler lover and anti-Semitic.


Chris April 12, 2019 at 11:40 am

Not a bad idea.


Joe Soaps April 10, 2019 at 11:06 pm

For all of you complaining about the air flights over Ocean Beach, how many of you moved here after the airport was built and fly aircraft over Ocean Beach? I bet you 99.9% of you moved in after the airport was built therefore you have nothing to complain about


ZZ April 12, 2019 at 4:49 pm

You can’t complaint about crime if there was crime before you moved here.

No complaints about coal plants in California, there were here before you moved here.

Actually, some people can’t complaint because they or the prior owner of their house agreed not to with the airport, and it was recorded on their deed. The airport requires this when they pay for a “quieter homes” upgrade. But if that doesn’t apply, you can sue the airport for nuisance.


Jeff April 10, 2019 at 11:21 pm

While I understand what you are upset about, wouldn’t moving the Airport to either Miramar or Brown’s field simply create similarly upset people that would live under a new commercial flight path that did not exist when they purchased their homes?


Chris April 11, 2019 at 1:56 am

Here on Mission Bay it’s terrible! The black jet soot covers the boats in the marinas. Once it builds up it’s almost impossible to clean it off with normal soap. So we are forced to use more aggressive chemicals and degreasers to clean it off. So not only are we breathing daily, we are using stronger soaps that get rinsed right in to the bay. If the airport was originally used for smaller aircraft and now we have huge cargo Jets, not to mention the shear number of flights, it’s only going to get worse. There won’t be any action by the faa or any government agencies until one of them crashes and kills a bunch of people then they will be pointing fingers at each other. Most major cities have a modern facility that includes multiple runways, plenty of runoff space, and flight paths that minimize their noise and pollution. But it doesn’t surprise me any just look at the high quality roads here! They can’t fix a road what makes you think they could do any better on a airport. They don’t even have the trains connected to it. To be honest it makes me question how much I really want to live here. Crappy roads, Crappy schools, crappy airport, traffic, parking nazi’s, high rent, low wages, high fuel prices. It all lowers the desire to live here. The people who say they don’t mind the noise obviously don’t live near me! I said the first day I was here, “who’s the idiot that put the airport there”? It really ruins the place.


Jeff April 12, 2019 at 7:27 pm

Imagine what it was like 40 years ago with 727s and DC9s. I guarantee you it was louder and dirtier. Probably 10 fold. Hell there is probably a permanent layer of soot from this things on people’s houses. If an MD-80 was a “whisper jet” as loud as they are, imagine the rest. Almost laughable.

I imagine the biggest problem these days with airport noise is people retiring and realizing they actually live next to an airport. With so few departures at night compared to the day, you’d have barely noticed How busy it is during the day.


Michael April 14, 2019 at 11:28 am



Vern April 16, 2019 at 7:06 am

“Imagine what it was like in the past…” Now that’s some forward thinking!

Remember that now the planes (departures) are at much lower altitudes, at lower climb rates/lower climb angles and there are far more planes, with more to come (Terminal One Expansion). Think Inverse Square Law.
Add to that the removal of trees & flora with the addition of many new, higher structures with highly reflective surfaces you continually increase the airplane noise throughout the community. Noise travels.
(The FAA & the Airport Authority’s noise modeling does not take into account the removal of trees other natural attenuators, nor does it take into account people building larger, higher homes with no noise-attenuating construction materials to dampen or attenuate the noise of the lower and subsequently louder airplanes).


Jeff April 16, 2019 at 8:43 pm

Is this some kind of joke? Lower altitudes and climb rates? The performance of aircraft has improved exponentially over the last 20 years. Planes climb higher as faster than ever before. Just look at the 787 or 777 compared to a 747. Or a 737 compared to an MD-80? They are also exponentially quieter.


Vern April 17, 2019 at 11:18 am

Unfortunately, no joke. Lower altitudes and climb rates are the wish of the Airline Industry and their lapdog, the FAA.


Jeff April 18, 2019 at 6:43 am

Well good for all of us Vern, you’re wrong. The facts are what they are. BTW, I fly for a living. So I might know a thing or two about aircraft performance that you don’t. Furthermore, I’ve flown in and out of Lindbergh (sic) over 1,000 times in my career. You’re flat out wrong about flying low as well. There are mountains around here we have to fly over like we always have and it’s not like they just popped out of the ground. If we were flying lower we’d have lots of dead bodies to count.


JT November 6, 2019 at 10:34 pm

Its obvious this guy works at the


Griffith Brother #2 April 11, 2019 at 7:45 am

I’d focus all that energy on the old Torrey Pines and Eucalyptus Trees falling over. Small Town vs. TSA, not gonna win that battle. I’m also in the flight path but by the altitude they reach on our hill the emissions are in Arizona by then.

Good luck, I think we should move it to Jack Murphy and the stadium to the Airport, buy out all that industrial surrounding the park and it’s win win, but it’s never gonna happen.


Jim minton April 11, 2019 at 3:12 pm

Yeah your airport stadium swap is in the pothole repair budget smh


thequeenisalizard April 11, 2019 at 8:56 am

Headlines! Old Broad suffers from more First World problems!


retired botanist April 11, 2019 at 3:59 pm

Oy! This is definitely what one of the local news channels calls the “hot button” topic! Everything from 1st world issues to put it on the pothole budget, to let it drift to Arizona! With respect to citizen action, this issue presents problems b/c federal agencies are involved, the FAA and the military. And so no matter how much finger-pointing gets aimed at the incredible inefficiency of the local noise control group, the City council, the absurd Prop A vote way back when, the failure of the ‘insulated windows” program, or any other laps this terrible situation sits in, its always eventually punted to helplessness over FAA regulations, or even the much over-used national security, or the need for tourist $s…
I don’t honestly know what effective grassroots action at this point might look like. Its discouraging. But at least the Rag keeps it on the constituent’s radar, and that’s a plus in my book.


sealintheSelkirks April 12, 2019 at 9:05 pm

I was born in OB in 1954 when there were still actually commercial AIRplanes flying out of that AIRport. You know-planes with propellers which were MUCH quieter like a big bee flying over in comparison, and much smaller jets, before it grew to become a freaking insane overcrowded and overused JETport full of giant roaring shaking quaking engines. And I grew up at MB School when there were nothing but louder and bigger jets showing up overhead year after year obviously trying to out-big and out-loud one another for bigger profits squeezing more passengers in for that quarterly corporate statement. Every year the next grade had more of those MB ‘Moments of Silence’ than the previous year. Phone calls? Forget it. Yeah, we got hit with the intensity of noise increase, too, but not as bad as OB did even back then.

Now of course corporate profits just put in smaller seats and still make the jets bigger..

I was amazed at how quiet it was at PB Jr. High when I started there in ’67. I took months to get used to! But I still lived under the MB flight path the rest of the time… And then it was back to OB for another 7 years as an adult and I can tell you something from those decades of personal experience living under the flight paths (33 years before I bailed for the mountains in ’87).

What you have now is like comparing the stink of an alley garbage can to a landfill. This is an analogy, okay? It means ‘big difference’ and all detrimental and nobody realized back just how monstrous these jets would get. Nor how many would be flying out of there.

I have to ask; did any of the ‘I love jet noise’ and ‘oooo look at the pretty jet air show’ crowd that have posted here actually live under the flight pattern when it was an airplane airport? You had to have been there and experienced the change to understand, boyos.

Wearing ear plugs never did work too well when it’s so loud it vibrates the air molecules and goes right through your skin to the bones of your skeleton. Read some research on noise and how it affects personality and physical reactions. Pretty depressing reading…

Ahhh the sounds and stink of Progress and Civilization! Ain’t it grand?



Jeff April 13, 2019 at 7:28 pm

So, um. An airport is an airport. It’s a place for planes of all sorts to come and go.


Rufus April 14, 2019 at 5:41 pm

I wonder how many people who complain about the airport use the airport for their travel?

Complaining that airplanes are now flying over your house once in a while is a big fat NIMBY “F-you” to the homeowners who used to take the brunt of the flights.


Vern April 16, 2019 at 12:05 pm

Any person that wants more planes flying at lower altitudes over their homes, schools and churches is an imbecile.
Save your “NIMBY” for something else.


Jonathan Turek November 6, 2019 at 10:27 pm

Thats too bad that u have to b so defensive with your right to complain about the airport. Im with you. Also they used to not fly very much past 9 10 now im counting planes every 5 min until very late. Its gtg out of hand i think too. I agree with you and am sorry u lost your husband ! God bless and aloha jt


Ben W August 2, 2020 at 10:43 am

I only just moved to OB and I can’t stand it. Every two minutes a jet swoops low over my home and there’s no recourse at all because the airport determined that a jet a few hundred metres directly overhead shouldn’t be a big deal. I hate living in OB and regret moving here because not the airport.


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