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 email@example.com. (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.)
This photo from reader Brian Neil doesn’t have a part of the aircraft in the frame but it makes the view all the more surreal. Here’s Brian with details and a bonus pic:
My friend Tom took this photo during a flight over San Francisco while I piloted a Cessna 172. The fog in SF has always been one of its most interesting features, and I love days when it partially covers the city. Sutro Tower gets to lord over the fog all the time, but it’s not common for it to reach downtown like this:
Jessica Placzek at KQED, a public radio station in San Francisco, profiled the Sutro Tower last summer:
Back in the 1960s, San Francisco had really bad television reception. By many accounts, it was the worst of any city in America. Good reception required a clear line of sight from the broadcast tower to your TV antenna, and in hilly San Francisco this was a challenge. Broadcasters began the hunt for a location to build a very tall tower that could send a clear TV signal far and wide. [...]
Eric Dausman, general manager of Sutro Tower, says the architect’s decision to taper the center was entirely aesthetic. “All the engineers since then want to shoot him. It made it a more difficult structure to maintain, and it is a more difficult structure to keep perfectly upright and in a great condition,” says Dausman.
The other major change was the color. Original plans showed a tower with a golden hue, but aviation regulations required the tower be painted alternating stripes of red and white to ward off possible plane collisions.
San Francisco writer Herb Caen once wrote, “I keep waiting for it to stalk down the hill and attack the Golden Gate Bridge.” Acknowledging both displeasure and affection for its undeniable prominence on the city's skyline, it is sometimes referred to light-heartedly as the Sutro Monster or Space Claw.
For some aerial views from the tower, check out this great video from KQED narrated by Placzek:
Update from a reader who lived in San Francisco for a while:
This isn’t a submission because it’s a photo from the ground not the air, but since I’m a Sutro appreciator, I am sharing a photo of the Sutro Monster I took that I really like:
Sutro seems to be using the fog to sneak up on an unsuspecting city. Attached. Sutro Tower even has a fan site, run by a Floridian. I sent in that photo years ago and it is now one of the many used on the page.
Early evening over Antrim County, Michigan, back in April 2008, following departure from the Antrim Co. Airport (KACB) on Runway 2. Intermediate Lake is in the foreground and Lake Bellaire is in the upper right of the photo. The small town of Bellaire (pop. approx. 1080) is visible between the airport and Lake Bellaire.
After spending 40 years as a pilot based in Michigan, I have quite a few more photos. I’ll be happy to send more if you’re interested.
Yes please. And if you have one yourself, even if you’ve had a photo posted already, please send to firstname.lastname@example.org.
This was taken in a Cessna 172 in early August 2015. The location is near Kalamazoo, Michigan, looking west at around 5500 MSL. I loved how the low sun was reflecting off of Lake Michigan and also filtering through the clouds.
Here’s another view from a Cirrus SR22, taken early this morning. This is Truckee, California, in the Sierra Nevada, just north of Lake Tahoe. The wonderful Truckee Airport, situated in the Martis Valley, is below me. Just left of the wing tip are the ski hills at Northstar, still with some snow on the runs. In the middle distance you can just see Lake Tahoe, and in the far distance above and left of Northstar are the ski runs at Heavenly, in South Lake Tahoe.
It’s a tough balance to concentrate on a safe takeoff from Truckee airport while soaking in the breathtaking views on climb-out.
The only time I visited Tahoe was also the only time I ever had a flat tire—and by flat, I mean exploded:
I saw the pieces fly high in the rearview mirror. Changing my friend’s tire on a narrow, pitched road covered in ice and snow with a tiny jack wasn’t the best way to spend the morning. But the rest of the visit was serene, as was the winter landscape:
This picture was taken from my Cirrus SR22 (same airplane as Jim Fallows’) flying over Salt Lake City at about a mile high. We were flying back from Ogden, UT to my home in Tucson AZ, via a fuel stop in Bryce Canyon. I have many more photos, if you are interested.
We’re definitely interested in more photos, even if you’ve already had one posted: email@example.com (submission guidelines here). The series has been such a great way to learn about places all over the U.S. Here’s a bit about the mountains above, the Wasatch Range:
The mountains were a vital source of water, timber, and granite for early settlers. Today, 85% of Utah’s population lives within 15 miles (24 km) of the Wasatch Range, mainly in the valleys just to the west. This concentration is known as the Wasatch Front and has a population of just over 2,000,000 residents.
Alex Gilman-Smith, who previously submitted these great canyon shots from the Southwest, also has a gorgeous one from Hawaii:
I’m really enjoying your America by Air series and I thought you might enjoy these pictures I grabbed during a Delta 837 flight from Atlanta to Honolulu. After a lot of blue, we reached Hawaii, where I took this picture of Waikiki Beach and Diamond Head.
It’s the name of a volcanic tuff cone on the Hawaiian island of Oʻahu and known to Hawaiians as Lēʻahi, most likely from lae 'browridge, promontory’ plus ʻahi 'tuna' because the shape of the ridgeline resembles the shape of a tuna’s dorsal fin. Its English name was given by British sailors in the 19th century, who mistook calcite crystals on the adjacent beach for diamonds.
Diamond Head is part of the system of cones, vents, and their associated eruption flows that are collectively known to geologists as the Honolulu Volcanic Series, eruptions from the Koʻolau Volcano that took place long after the volcano formed and had gone dormant.
Ideally we want to see part of the aircraft in these aerial photos, but this one from reader Rama is way too good to pass up:
Here’s a favorite of mine taken four years ago in the Outer Banks. This is Cape Lookout Lighthouse. The Light at Cape Hatteras gets all the attention, being the tallest in the U.S., but Cape Lookout Lighthouse is my favorite. The beauty of the Outer Banks and its lighthouses can be appreciated best from above. This was on a custom lighthouse tour that took us around six iconic lights of the OBX.
My family and I used to vacation once a year in nearby Duck when I was in middle school, so the Outer Banks looms large in my memory. If you, like Rama, have a great aerial photo from the OBX to share, or in general have a memorable view above your childhood vacation spot, please send: firstname.lastname@example.org (submission guidelines here).
This time, instead of a biplane over Kilaeua, it’s a helicopter over Kauai, specifically the Na Pali Coast, a chain of mountains in the northwest of Kauai. This picture shows a good example of the popup waterfalls you get after rain showers in the islands.
More than a week after insurrectionists stormed the Capitol, video recordings, news reports, and federal charges are revealing a situation even more dire than it seemed at the time.
As terrifying as it was to watch the attempted coup unfold on January 6, the news that afternoon offered some cause for relief. Although the U.S. Capitol was overrun, few injuries were initially reported. At first, it appeared that only one woman died in the melee. No lawmakers were harmed. The Electoral College certification went forward, despite some delay.
Every day since, as more videos and reporting have emerged, it’s become clear how dangerous the insurrection truly was. As my colleague Elaine Godfrey, who was in the crowd, wrote, “The violence could have been even worse. Some of the rioters clearly wanted it to be.” This was more than a group of people swept up in the emotions of the moment. Within the mob were radicals plotting to kill or kidnap the vice president and members of Congress, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. The rioters came within moments of catching up to Vice President Mike Pence.
Cloth masks are better than nothing, but they were supposed to be a stopgap measure.
If you’re like most Americans, there’s a good chance you’re going to wear a cloth mask today. Doing so makes sense. It remains the official recommendation in the United States, and it is something we’ve both advocated since the beginning of the pandemic. Both of us wrotearticles as far back as March urging people to wear homemade cloth masks. We’re also the authors (along with 17 other experts) of a paper titled “An Evidence Review of Face Masks Against COVID,” which was just published in peer-reviewed form in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. But it’s past time for better solutions to be available to the public.
We first released the paper as a preprint back in April, and it took nine months to go through peer review. We’re happy that it’s published but, to be honest, we’re also deeply disappointed that it’s still relevant. We’d hoped that by 2021 supply chains would have ramped up enough to ensure that everyone had better masks. Cloth masks, especially homemade ones, were supposed to be a stopgap measure. Why are so many of us still wearing them?
The vice president has no obvious place in GOP electoral politics.
Updated on January 15, 2021 at 1:52 p.m. ET
Mike Pence publicly defied the president once in four years, and for that solitary show of independence, his own political future could be all but finished.
The vice president’s swift journey from acolyte to outcast was head-spinning. This is someone who would pause after mentioning Donald Trump’s name during an address so that the audience had time to clap—and who would then stand silently at the lectern when it didn’t. Editing Pence’s speeches, aides would cut references to Trump when they didn’t believe there was any reason to mention him. Reviewing the changes, Pence would take his Sharpie and add Trump’s name back in, a former Trump-administration official told me.
As the FBI warns of violence, anti-government extremists are ready to get in on the chaos.
Updated at 8:47 a.m. ET on January 15, 2021.
In the menagerie of right-wing populist groups, the boogaloo bois stand out for their fashion, for their great love of memes, and, to put it plainly, for the incoherence of their ideology. Which is saying a lot, considering that the riot at the Capitol last Wednesday featured partisans of the long-gone country of South Vietnam, Falun Gong adherents, end-times Christians, neo-Nazis, QAnon believers, a handful of Orthodox Jews, and Daniel Boone impersonators.
The boogaloos weren’t a huge presence in that mob. But according to federal officials, the attack on the Capitol has galvanized them and could inspire boogaloo violence in D.C. and around the country between now and Inauguration Day. The FBI warned earlier that boogaloos could launch attacks in state capitols this Sunday, January 17.
Both parents and adult children often fail to recognize how profoundly the rules of family life have changed over the past half century.
Sometimes my work feels more like ministry than therapy. As a psychologist specializing in family estrangement, my days are spent sitting with parents who are struggling with profound feelings of grief and uncertainty. “If I get sick during the pandemic, will my son break his four years of silence and contact me? Or will I just die alone?” “How am I supposed to live with this kind of pain if I never see my daughter again?” “My grandchildren and I were so close and this estrangement has nothing to do with them. Do they think I abandoned them?”
Since I wrote my book When Parents Hurt, my practice has filled with mothers and fathers who want help healing the distance with their adult children and learning how to cope with the pain of losing them. I also treat adult children who are estranged from their parents. Some of those adult children want no contact because their parents behaved in ways that were clearly abusive or rejecting. To make matters worse for their children and themselves, some parents are unable to repair or empathize with the damage they caused or continue to inflict. However, my recent research—and my clinical work over the past four decades—has shown me that you can be a conscientious parent and your kid may still want nothing to do with you when they’re older.
So far, cumulative acts of civic virtue have saved the republic. But the constitutional order is still in danger.
The next time an insurgent mob arrives to sack the Capitol, if one happens to try between now and Inauguration Day, mere strength of numbers will not overwhelm the defenses. In the 10 days since the January 6 assault on Congress, the Secret Service has overseen the establishment of an instant “green zone,” fortified by eight-foot steel barriers and patrolled by some 20,000 National Guardsmen. Those are real bullets in the magazines of their Army-issued M-4 assault rifles, not at all the standard gear for maintaining civic order.
A healthy democracy does not need a division-size force to safeguard the incoming president in its capital. Generals and admirals in a thriving republic do not have to enjoin the troops against “violence, sedition and insurrection” or reaffirm that “there’s no role for the U.S. military in determining the outcome of a U.S. election.” A nation secure in the peaceful transfer of power does not require 10 former defense secretaries to remind their successor that he is “bound by oath, law and precedent to facilitate the entry into office of the incoming administration.”
The virus is mutating as expected. We can still stop it.
In the final, darkest days of the deadliest year in U.S. history, the world received ominous news of a mutation in the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus. Scientists in the U.K. had identified a form of the virus that was spreading rapidly throughout the nation. Then, on January 4, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a lockdown that began almost immediately and will last until at least the middle of February. “It’s been both frustrating and alarming to see the speed with which the new variant is spreading,” he said in an address, noting that “our scientists have confirmed this new variant is between 50 and 70 percent more transmissible” than previous strains.
Those figures, based on an early estimate by British government scientists in late December, made for terrifying push alerts and headlines. Though this strain of the virus (officially called “B.1.1.7”) quickly became known as “the U.K. variant,” it has already been found in 45 countries, suggesting that the opportunity to contain it with travel restrictions has passed. On January 8, Australia locked down Brisbane, a city of 2.3 million people, after discovering a single case.
The insurrection could spur a federal-government crackdown on white-nationalist groups, as well as strengthen the case for systemic police reform.
For four years, Donald Trump downplayed the risk of white-supremacist violence and denied that racial bias is pervasive in law enforcement. In a single, searing day, the assault on the U.S. Capitol exposed the price of both of those choices—and may have provided Joe Biden new political momentum for reversing direction on each front.
At once, the rioters demonstrated how much the threat of white extremism has metastasized under Trump, while the restrained police response vivified a racial double standard in policing. The attack could strengthen the case for systemic police reform, both through congressional action and a revival of Justice Department oversight of local police practices that the Trump administration essentially shelved. Representative Karen Bass of California, the lead sponsor of a police-reform bill that passed the House last summer, told me she believes that the lower chamber will approve a new version “within the first quarter” of 2021. “This was yet another example in the disparity of treatment between African Americans and others,” Derrick Johnson, the president and CEO of the NAACP, told me. “This is yet another example of how police agencies viewed citizens differently.”
The congresswoman tested positive for COVID-19 after sheltering with Republicans who refused to wear masks.
It still hurts to swallow or drink. Water tastes off. She can’t sleep. She buried herself under blankets all weekend, but she couldn’t stay warm. Then came the pounding headache, the blocked sinuses. So far, she’s spent more than a week in self-isolation, toggling between British TV dramas and news reports about the rioters who wanted to assassinate her colleagues in Congress. Her husband’s symptoms are the same, but he is older than her and in a high-risk group. It’s been four days since they tested positive, nine days since the insurrection. Pramila Jayapal, the 55-year-old representative from Washington, told me that her anger is “next-level.”
Jayapal received her first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine on January 4, and she tested negative for the coronavirus on January 5, the night before she entered the Capitol. She believes that she contracted it last Wednesday when she huddled inside a room with about 100 of her congressional colleagues, including multiple Republicans who refused to wear masks.
It’s difficult to fully comprehend the magnitude of 350,000 deaths. Other metrics can be more illuminating.
Over the past month, COVID-19’s death toll in the United States has regularly risen by roughly 2,000 or 3,000 a day. With numbers so large, the pain and heartbreak behind each individual death often doesn’t register.
Perhaps people would be less numb to the death toll if it were scaled down to a more human level. A change in time frame might help: Consider, for instance, that during the month of December, an average of about 1.7 people in the U.S. died from COVID-19 every minute.
That’s one relatively straightforward way of quantifying the impact of the pandemic. Below are four others, each one a light cast from a different angle in an attempt to more fully illuminate the scope of the losses.