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San Jose International airport in the early 1990s.
Author: Ahmed Orgunwall
Submitted by: aro757   Date: 11-09-2019
Comments: (1)  

Spotting at San Jose (SJC) in the 1990s

By Ahmed R. Orgunwall

I switched employers a few months ago, commuting now to San Jose, instead of Mt. View, which means I pass by San Jose (SJC) airport a few times a week. Last week, on a hazy morning, as I was approaching the airport, from the distance I could see an American Airline's 737 approaching and it took me back to the days when I used to drive to SJC to shoot some pictures or just park the car and watch the airplanes land and take off. As always, those were the 'good ole days' when my only worry was getting ready for the next exam and how my next model was going to turn out. Long before the days of being married with children and a mortgage.

That AA 737-800 was approaching and if I squinted my eyes a little bit I could probably make it to be a 767, or even an MD-11, or whatever else my mind could imagine, and be taken back to a different time. It reminded me of the shiny AA planes I used to watch land and takeoff there a long time ago. That night, I decided to go through my photos again, and thus I put together this article to share some of those photos with you.

American Airlines MD-11 American Airlines MD-11

AA MD-11s were handling the daily flight to Tokyo until getting replaced by the 777-200ER. The MD-11 was beautiful! Shiny with reflections galore, and it had character, unlike the boring twins of today. An engine on the tail, centerline gear, winglets, and huge windows that allowed you to look into the cockpit under the right lighting conditions.The flight from Tokyo would arrive around 9am and head back to Tokyo around 1pm so there was a few hours of downtime. For those few hours, they would tow it to the end of the airport, near the UPS and FedEx cargo facilities. A couple of the photos above show it being towed back to the terminal for the afternoon departure. That flight and a couple to Canada and Mexico were the only international flights out of SJC at that time. There are a lot more international flights now, covering Japan, China, Canada, Mexico, and several European countries.

On the corner of Coleman Ave. and Airport Blvd. was a nice little spot you could walk up to for taking pictures or just watching the action. Reno Air and Southwest had huge operations at SJC at the time. Southwest still does, but Reno Air was bought out by American and most flights were eventually cancelled when they realized they couldn't make any money on those routes. There wasn't too much variety in the number of airlines, but certainly in the number of aircraft types. In addition to all the business jets and private planes, depending on the time and day, you could see some really obscure aircraft. Sadly, many of those types are no longer in operation, but I'm happy to have been able to see them up-close and take a few slides. There's nothing like the sound of jet engines roaring and the smell of kerosene in the air on a clear summer day.

Here are some of my photos from those years. I apoligize for the quality and small size; they are slide scans I had done a few years ago. I'm hoping to someday scan them again at a much higher quality with a modern scanner. I hope you like them and it brings back a few memories.

America West Boeing 737FedEx DC-10

Reno Air MD-87Reno Air MD-87Reno Air MD-80Reno Air MD-87Reno Air MD-87Reno Air MD-87Reno Air MD-87Reno Air MD-87America West Boeing 737-200America West Boeing 737America West Boeing 737-300America West Boeing 737-300America West Boeing 737-200America West Airbus A320Horizon Air F-28Horizon Air Fokker F-28Alaska Airlines MD-80Alaska Boeing 737Alaska Boeing 737Alaska MD-80Alaska MD-80Alaska MD-80Alaska Boeing 737Douglas DC-8Southwest Boeing 737 Texas OneSouthwest Boeing 737UPS DC-8UPS 757Kalita L-1011Kitty Hawk 727Kalitta L-1011American Airlines MD-80American Airlines MD-80American Airlines MD-80FedEx Airbus A300FedEx MD-11Southwest Boeing 737Southwest Boeing 737Southwest Boeing 737Delta Boeing 727Delta 737Northwest Airbus A320Northwest Airbus A320Emery Worldwide DC-8Douglas DC-8Airbor Express Douglas DC-8Airborne Express Douglas DC-8
All photos copyright Ahmed R. Orgunwall

by Ahmed Orgunwall

Member Comments :

 comment by: usairman737 posted on 11-14-2019, comment #32074

If you noticed a guy with a camera standing near the light post, and therefore above the fence line, it was probably me. I flew into San Jose from Denver six or more times a year on business, and spent my free time at the airport. Lots of duplication of your photos, but most of mine were lost in the CO flood five years ago.

Thanks for the em memories,
Gerry Cole - DEN