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All those Wonderful Stories

A Different Approach

By Captain Frank Kennedy

When Transocean was first getting its start at the original Oakland airport there was a smoldering city dump right at the base of the main east/west runways. The custodians of the dump tried to reduce all burnable trash to ashes before it was covered in the landfill. The prevailing westerly wind trailed the smoke from their fires down toward Hayward and many times we were in a smoky haze on final as we approached the airport for landing.

Air traffic control did not have the sophisticated radar equipment they now have, and instrument approaches were made by radio signals that were not always reliable. That never worried us. We knew that we could rely on the dump. Tires were burning on one side and rags were smoldering on the other and, if worse came to worse, we could have made our way up-wind between the different fragrances of smoke and made a ''nasal approach" to a landing.


The dump has long ago disappeared and a golf course now covers the area. Pilots approaching the airport today look down on tree-lined fairways and plan what they may do on a future day off. Few of them know of the facility that was once there and has been lost.

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