Reporter's Notebook

America by Air
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Inspired by our March 2016 cover story by James Fallows,How America Is Putting Itself Back Together,” readers share their best aerial photos from across the U.S. Submit your own via (Please provide the location, the story behind the photo, and the largest file size you have. Horizontal photos with a bit of the plane visible—a wing, the edge of a window—are ideal. Terms and Conditions here.)

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America by Air: San Bernardino National Forest

Marco Pallotti

For our new photo series, reader Marco Pallotti happened to send a view captured on my 29th birthday—May 3, 2011—on a flight from Newark to Los Angeles:

In the foreground is snow-capped San Gorgonio Mountain, in the San Bernardino National Forest, with Mt. San Jacinto in the distance. In the valley between the two peaks is the town of Cabazon, and on the far left is the western edge of the Coachella Valley.

Fun facts about that forest: It was the filming location for Daniel Boone (1936) and Paint Your Wagon (1969). That area of Southern California also features prominently in Jim’s new cover story, specifically the nearby cities of San Bernardino and Redlands, his hometown:

When I was growing up [in Redlands], in the Baby Boom era, its economy rested on the orange-growing business, the neighboring Norton Air Force Base, and a medical community serving the nearby desert area. Now the orange groves are nearly gone, the Air Force base is closed, and the desert communities have their own doctors—but the city has been transformed by the presence of a tech firm that by all rights should be in some bigger, fancier place. This company, Esri, is a world leader in geographic information systems, or GIS. These are essentially the industrial-strength counterparts to Google Earth, which governments and companies around the world use for everything from tracking pothole repairs to monitoring climate change.

An intermodal yard near Midway Airport in Chicago / A dam northeast of Phoenix

Just before the release of his new cover story, “How America Is Putting Itself Back Together,” Jim broached the idea of readers sending in photos from flights they’ve taken over the U.S., in line with his three-year journey across the states in a single-engine plane:

We’d like to concentrate on collecting aerial shots only — from small planes and airliners, from helicopters and airplanes, from altitudes high enough to reveal large-scale geographic patterns and low enough to display surprising neighborhood or city-planning details. […] Please send any relevant photos, with identifying info—when, where, how, and what’s interesting about what we’re looking at.

A reader and former follower of the Dish, Ann Fisher, jumps at the idea:

This one is above the Great Salt Lake, taken November 2012:

You can tell I’m pretty excited about this. I have more, all from commercial flights.

Two more of Ann’s photos are seen in the diptych above. If you have a good aerial view you’d like share, please email (Photos with a small part of the plane visible—a wing, a propellor, the edge of a window—are preferable, and please send the largest file size you have.)