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Time-Lapse Video Showing the Volume of Air Traffic at San Francisco International Airport

This brief time-lapse gives you an idea about the flight patterns of aircraft that take off and land at the San Francisco International Airport, which is among  the world’s 30 busiest airports. San Francisco International Airport or SFO is an international airport that is situated 13 miles south of downtown San Francisco, California. It is close to Millbrae and San Bruno in unincorporated San Mateo County. SFO features flights to points all over North America and is a major flight portal to Asia and Europe.

sfo airport

Photo Credit: Wikipedia Commons

In the San Francisco Bay Area, SFO is the biggest airport and is one of the most active in California, second only to Los Angeles International Airport, which is the busiest. It was the tenth busiest in 2009 in the United State and based on passenger count, the twentieth largest airport in the world.  The City and County of San Francisco owns SFO, even if it is located in adjacent San Mateo County.

Often referred to as the “gateway to the Pacific,” over 44 million passengers passed through SFO last year alone.  Its enormous traffic even inspired the creation its own television series back in the 1970s, although it was a short-lived production. With the massive scale of its operations and the volume of air traffic that it accommodates, YouTuber craigiest shot a time-lapse video to give us a quick look at the airport’s usual grind.

sfo planes takeoff landing

Set to the sound of the static 1000 Airplanes on the Roof by Philip Glass, the time-lapse shows the frenetic landings and take-offs that happen on a regular basis at SFO. Viewed in compressed time, one gets to much more appreciate the crucial job of air traffic controllers, as you see plane after plane come and go in very close succession. One miscommunication or miscalculation and it is easy to see potential disaster in the runways. It also shows why the profession of air traffic controller is one of the most taxing. Many countries, for a precautionary measure, require that they take a break at least every two hours from their duties. Watch the video yourself and get a feel of the action at SFO.

For more of craigiest’s work, go on over to his YouTube channel here.

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Patricia Ramos the author

I am a freelance photographer who is no stranger to smudged lenses, long hours in front of the computer, heavy camera bags (and the back aches that ensued) and missing lens caps. If you know what I'm talking about, you probably have as much love and passion for photography as I do.

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