San Diego Airport Terminals To Tarmac Tour

February 11, 2011 by  

Jet Plane About To Land At San Diego International Airport

About To Land At San Diego International Airport

        I recently had the pleasure of going on the Terminals To Tarmac Tour at San Diego Airport. From the website:

See behind the scenes of San Diego International Airport! The Airport Authority is offering free tours of the airport and airfield, including up-close looks at the runway, endangered species areas and public art. Tours are two hours long and are offered four times a month – each second and fourth Thursday at 10 a.m. and Friday at 1 p.m.

Ryan - Tour Guide For Terminals To Tarmac Tour At San Diego International Airport

Ryan, Our Tour Guide Through San Diego Airport

        Ryan, our tour guide is a great ambassador for the airport. He has a great sense of humor, was very informative and really brings a lot to the table so the tour was much more than just a photo op or an endless barrage of boring statistics and facts. What Ryan was able to do was show the relationship between the airport and the city of San Diego, and how that relationship leads to exciting things happening at the airport, which in turn makes San Diego an even more exciting city to live in and visit.

Inside Terminal 2 At San Diego International Airport

Inside San Diego Airport’s Terminal 2

        In a nutshell, the tour breaks down into two parts, each part is an hour long and there’s a ten minute bathroom break in the middle. You start out by meeting your tour group at the commuter terminal, receiving a visitors badge and then jumping into a shuttle bus that takes you to terminal 1 to begin the first part of the tour, which is a walking tour of both terminals. After that the shuttle bus takes you “inside the wire” and out onto the tarmac for a slow, circling tour of the runway and it’s operations.

Puff The Magic Dragon In Terminal 2 Of San Diego International Airport

Performing Art In SD Airport’s Terminal 2

        The puppet show version of Puff The Magic Dragon you see above was going on as part of the Airport Art Program. This was going on in the baggage claim area of terminal two during the tour break so I though I’d throw it in.

Ryan Explains The Geography Of San Diego International Airport

Tarmac Worker At San Diego International Airport

        Over a very helpful model of the airport, Ryan explained several things about the airport to us. The tour is very much one of those “have to be there” kind of things, so you should just take the tour because being there, seeing it and listening to the tone and excited inflection of the tour guide’s voice compliment each other in a way that probably won’t be adequately represented here. The video at the end of this post is about 6 minutes long and in it you can here Ryan talk about just a couple things about the airport. He really packs a lot in during that time, so if what you see in the video or in this post seem even remotely interesting to you then go to the San Diego Airport’s website and sign up for the tour! As we walked through the terminal, Ryan told us the trifecta of nouns that make up the theme of the airport are sky, sea and surf. As soon as he said that and pointed out a few things, it all came leaping to the foreground like pieces from the Da Vinci Code… The weather and/or the beach is why people live, move and visit here. I’m one of them. I can proudly say that I’ve been clean and sober from snow and sub-freezing temperatures for over five years, since moving to San Diego from Denver, Colorado. If the weather and the beach are the main reasons people come here, then it makes perfect subliminal sense to remind people of that in the airport. I learned on the tour that San Diego is not a “connecting” city which means that most visitors to our airport are either starting or ending their travel here, so the airport being themed as it is helps people to have a great San Diego experience that starts as soon as they get off the plane. This tour really shines a light on the amount of thought that goes into parlaying our weather and beaches into tourists, the experience they have and the money we want them to spend.

View Through Windshield Of San Diego Airport Terminals To Tarmac Tour Bus

Through The Windshield Of The Terminals To Tarmac Shuttle Bus

        I’ve been through both terminals of San Diego airport before, so I didn’t take too many photos during that portion of the tour, I did a lot of listening. Once our shuttle picked us up and drove us out onto the tarmac… I was listening a little bit less. San Diego Airport only has one runway, so all the action took place right in front of us as the shuttle slowly circled around the runway, eventually stopping on the north side, where I was able to get out and take some photos.

US Airways Jet Plane Lands At San Diego International Airport

US Airways Jet Plane Lands At San Diego International Airport

        Landings and take-offs all happen in the same direction and that is to the west. From our photo op area on the north side of the runway we had a great, window-free vantage to get some pics of the planes coming and going.

Private Jet Plane Taxis At San Diego International Airport

Private Jet Taxis At San Diego Airport

        After that the shuttle drove us to the eastern end of the runway. This put us directly under planes as they came in on their final approach to the airport. From here, we literally had a view of the underbelly, front and back of planes, full of people that are the reason San Diego Airport is not just a place. It’s a thing. It’s an organism that lives only because there are people that live in and visit San Diego, California.

Right Under A Jet Plane Landing at San Diego International Airport

Seconds Away From Touchdown At San Diego Airport

        I didn’t want to plan on learning anything during the tour, but I did. I just wanted a great photo op, but now I want to go back again not so I can take more photos, but so I can listen to what the tour guide will have to say about the airport, and the slight variations that each tour would have because Ryan was not reading from a script, he was telling us a story based on inside information he has as an employee and a guide for the Terminals To Tarmac tour. My destination was the San Diego airport, but my journey didn’t begin until I got there. I’m not an airport, aviation or airplane buff, but after this tour I can see how it would open up a whole new world of photography to me if I was. Coming to San Diego does the same thing for other people in an infinite number of ways. I took these photos yesterday, early in the second week of February and just look at those blue skies, look at all that sunlight streaming in through the terminal windows! The temperature was perfect, the barometer was gorgeous and rising and the humidity had us at a dew point that might make the glass that’s holding your margarita damp. We live in San Diego people! The five plus years I’ve lived here have helped me forget what wind chill, coat checks and winter are, and if you don’t know what any of those things are then consider yourself lucky. Do you like apples? Yeah? Well you can fly from San Diego, nonstop to Maui and London, among other places. How do you like them apples? I thought so. Cheers, and happy traveling!

Video From Terminal To Tarmac Tour At San Diego Airport


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