Question for the locals: Ever been out to Fort Funston? I’ve lived in the SF Bay Area all of my life and I never made it out there. I wouldn’t say that it’s off the beaten path; I’ve passed within a few miles of it every time I’ve driven up the Peninsula on my way to the City.
I followed Paul up Highway 35 to Fort Funston, he on his KTM 950 Supermoto and me on my Kawasaki 636 to shoot any hang gliders there and maybe explore the coastal battery that goes through the part of the hill there. The SF Bay Area is rich in military heritage and landmarks and since I was a little kid I always enjoyed checking out the nearby forts, bunkers and other attractions. I had a special anticipation for Fort Funston because recently I had visited the restored Nike missile site at Fort Barry (SF88, pics soon to come!) and found out that Funston was also one of the 24 Nike sites in the Bay Area.
I knew from looking at Google maps that the missile site was now the parking lot at Fort Funston, but I couldn’t help but to laugh in amazement as I rode right past the cemented over launch elevator doors knowing what used to lie underneath. I wonder how much of the underground bunkers are still intact?
We had to wait a while on the observation deck for the first hang gliders to take off, but soon they started to fill the air and the sun came out as the fog and clouds burned off. While waiting for the pilots to take the air there were plenty of other things to watch and take pictures of. Birds dive bombed overhead like planes in a constant dog fight and folks walking their dogs sat to rest and enjoy the view. We were even surprised to spot a pod of dolphins swimming in the waves along the beach.
After snapping numerous pics of colorful gliders seeming to float effortlessly above the cliffs, I was almost ready to call it a day and head to our next shooting destination when a sleek glider piloted by a man with an aerodynamic helmet reminiscent of downhill skiers launched from the cliffs. He was exciting to watch as he dove from above the observation deck and seemed to go almost near vertical as he flew toward the beach below. As I approached the group of hang gliders I seemed to recall that while I was working as a bouncer, one of the DJ’s that I knew had told me that he had gotten into hang gliding. Funny enough, when the pilot of the sleek hang glider looked up it was my old friend and DJ, John Simpson.
We chatted for a bit and he kept trying to convince me to come to take a flight one weekend. We’ll see about that one… For me it almost ranks right there with jumping out of a perfectly good airplane. You can see more of his pics in the gallery.