Notes on Kite Aerial Photography: Photo Gallery

Telegraph Hill
San Francisco, California

A view of Coit Tower from the north (37K jpg, August 1996).

go to location mapThis page contains images taken from atop San Francisco's Telegraph Hill. When my sister was in town this August we spent a couple of days wandering around San Francisco. A pleasant stop in the local tour is Telegraph Hill, a 284-foot-high promontory on San Francisco's northeast edge. Visitors at the top of the hill are treated to the same 360-degree panorama of city and bayshore that established the hill as an observation post in San Francisco's earliest days.

Telegraph Hill first served as an observation point when John Montgomery built a fort shortly after his arrival in San Francisco in 1846. Four years later, the Maria Telegraph, for which the hill is named, began to tell the city of approaching sea vessels. Unfortunately, gale winds demolished the observation point in 1870. Coit Tower, the structure at the top of the Telegraph Hill today, was a gift to the city from Lillie Hitchcock Coit, an admirer of the firefighters comprising the Knickerbocker Engine Company. She left $188,731 in her will for the construction of a monument to honor the firemen. The tower was erected in 1933 and stands 180-feet high. Many say it resembles the nozzle of a fire hose.

Two views of the parking circle (52K jpg left and 50K jpg right, August 1996).

While my sister, sons, and niece made the trip to the top of Coit Tower I decided to see how the Sutton 16 would fly from the observation area at the top of the hill. The circular parking lot is ringed by a set of concrete bleachers -- seating for the panoramic view (though ironically the view cannot be seen when seated on the bleachers due to overgrown vegetation). Anyway, it was a blustery day and the Sutton 16 pulled with great gusto. I took care to keep it high and thus away from the hill's leeward turbulence. After a bit of flying I sent up KAP Rig #1 with its Yashica T4 camera and shot a quick roll.

This was pretty urban flying but the wind was such that I could launch from the top of the hill and fly downwind over the unoccupied northeast flank of the hill. It was pretty crowded with tourists at the top and I immediately drew a large crowd. My technique these days is to recruit an assistant, explain what I am doing clearly to him or her, and then let them field questions while I attend to the rig. That approached worked great for this session. I kept waiting for some official type to show up and declare kite flying illegal but it never happened.

Housing on the northeast base of Telegraph Hill (45K jpg, August 1996).

This image shows multistory housing nestled against Telegraph Hill's northeast flank. The San Francisco Bay once lapped at this side of the hill but fill has been placed to make new land along the shoreline. This image intrigued me because of the "dazzle" camouflage scheme sported by the building in the lower right. That must have come from some interesting meeting at the Planning and Zoning Commission.

This photo, like the others below, was a blind shot. You cannot see the buildings on the hill's eastern flank from my flying position at the top.

The eastern flank of Telegraph Hill (61K jpg left and 49K jpg right, August 1996).

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