The effects of California’s stay-at-home order to try to limit the spread of the coronavirus are telling from the air.
Major highways that are typically bumper to bumper are mostly empty, airliners are parked at the Norman Y. Mineta San Jose International Airport, and outlet mall parking lots are deserted while the lots at businesses such as Walmart, Costco, and Lowe’s are overflowing.
I asked Julie what it was like to document this crisis.
You are able to see the effects of the coronavirus pandemic and stay-at-home orders from a perspective few are able to experience right now. How does the weight of that spur you to capture and share as much as you can?
Being in the air and only flying with each other as a husband and wife team, we are complying with social distancing rules so we take this opportunity to document as much as we can of this unique time. I do feel a responsibility to capture the big picture outside for those who are behind the closed doors of our communities. We are so fortunate to be able to use the tools of our trade to share what we see.
How has this situation impacted you and your business?
Many of our clients are commercial [real estate agents]. Even though they are working from home, work still must get done. Orders for aerial photography have taken on a more significant importance for our clients. Before the Shelter-in-Place order, our clients' clients may have come out in person to tour a large property, where now they must depend solely on photography and other information to determine if a project suits their needs and to make a decision to buy.
This situation has also motivated us [to] find new ways to help our clients. We can offer our clients unique visuals including 360[-degree] panoramas done from a helicopter that can be labeled and can hold a potential client's attention. To see a recent sample click on the link and scroll around and zoom in and out with your mouse: 111th Panorama Downtown San Jose.
What has struck you the most, seeing these cities, airports, and other areas seemingly lifeless?
Seeing how quiet and empty things look at first it seems like it is a Sunday afternoon. But it is a workday in the middle of the day. Things should be busy, there should be traffic and people and activity. But there is none of that. There is an eerie ghost town feel. Even airborne, the air traffic controllers want to talk. They ask how we're doing, what we’re seeing and they tell us how quiet it is with limited personnel keeping as far from each other as possible. And there is no one flying around to interrupt our conversations. Like everyone, we look forward to getting back to normal, but in the meantime, we will be flying, photographing, and documenting as much as we can. We believe that it is history and that it is important.
Learn more about Julie in “Grandma’s 182,” a story about three generations of women who share the same airplane, in the May issue of AOPA Pilot.