Region Focus: Flying to Silicon Valley


Silicon Valley is a region in the southern part of the San Francisco Bay Area of Northern California. It corresponds roughly to the geographical Santa Clara Valley, although its boundaries have increased over the decades.

The area has been called Silicon Valley since the early 1970s as a result of the high proportion of semiconductor, electronics and computer manufacturers based there. More recently Silicon Valley has become a global center for high technology, innovation, and social media. Many high profile companies in the tech sector are based there, not least Apple, Google, Facebook, Intel and Oracle.

The volume of business aviation in the region has increased as the tech sector has grown over the decades. The area is well-served by operators, FBOs and handlers both at the main international airports of San Francisco and San Jose and at smaller airports such as Palo Alto and Hayward Executive Airport. These smaller regional airports provide viable alternatives to the larger commercial airports and in some cases may be closer to Silicon Valley itself.

International airports

San Francisco International Airport is the city’s main and largest airport. It is close to the city centre and main financial district of San Francisco, but is 29 miles from Silicon Valley. With more expensive handling and landing than other airports, there may be better options available in the region for a private flight to Silicon Valley.

Alternatives include Oakland International Airport. Although it is located further away from Silicon Valley, Oakland International Airport has lower fees than San Francisco International Airport. The Norman Y. Mineta San Jose International Airport may be a more suitable option, being closer to Silicon Valley and less busy than Oakland and San Francisco. Signature Flight Support and Atlantic Aviation have FBOs at San Jose airport, which has a business terminal with private and corporate aircraft located away from the main terminals.

Domestic airports

However, San Jose Airport does still cater to scheduled service commercial flights. When flying to Silicon Valley some may prefer smaller and more private airports, of which there are several.

San Carlos Airport is a reliever for San Francisco International Airport and is located 18 miles away from Silicon Valley. Its runway is suitable for turboprop aircraft only. Despite this, there are around 65,000 revenue-generating flights at the airport every year. The airport has more than 25 aviation related businesses, including FBO services from Rabbit Aviation Services.

Similarly to San Carlos Airport, Palo Alto Airport is suitable only for turboprop aircraft, but is closer still to Silicon Valley, around 10 miles away. Nearby Moffett Federal Airfield is a civil-military airport in Santa Clara and is mostly used by NASA. Half Moon bay, south of the city is almost 40 miles away but has a runway long enough for small jets and some medium sized jets.

Reid–Hillview Airport is in the eastern part of San Jose and is a reliever airport for San Jose International Airport. Reid Hillview is suitable for light jets as well as turboprops. Another suitable option for larger corporate jets may be Hayward Executive Airport, which has no curfew and commercial airliner traffic and features as a recently-built 6,300 square foot terminal with support offices, a 30,000 square foot hangar and 3.5 acres of ramp area.

Airports in Silicon Valley

Moffett Federal Airfield  (NUQ / KNUQ)

  • Distance: 5 miles
  • Operating hours: 24/7
  • Facilities: FBO and handling by AvPorts. Catering and cleaning services.
  • Fuel: 100LL, Jet A
  • Runway: 14L/32R – 2,803m (9,197ft); 14R/32L – 2,476m (8,122ft)


Norman Y. Mineta San Jose International Airport (SJC / KSJC)

  • Distance: 10 miles
  • Operating hours: 24 hour
  • Facilities: FBO services provided by Signature and Atlantic
  • Fuel: 100LL, Jet-A
  • Runway: 12L/30R – 3353m (11,000ft); 12L/30L – 3353m (11,000ft)


Palo Alto Airport of Santa Clara County (PAO / KPAO)

  • Distance: 10 miles
  • Operating hours: 0600-2000
  • Facilities: Handling and maintenance from Rossi Aircraft and the West Valley Flying Club
  • Fuel: 100LL, Jet A
  • Runway: 13/31 – 745m (2,443ft)


Other airports near Silicon Valley

San Francisco International Airport (SFO / KSFO)

  • Distance: 29 miles
  • Operating hours: 24 hour
  • Facilities: FBO by Signature
  • Fuel: 100LL, Jet-A
  • Runway: 10L/28R – 3,618m (11,870ft)


Reid-Hillview Airport of Santa Clara County (RHV / KRHV)

  • Distance: 16 miles
  • Operating hours: 0800 -1800
  • Facilities: FBO services available from Nice Air and Aerodynamic Aviation
  • Fuel: 100LL, Jet-A
  • Runway: 13L/31R – 945m (3,100ft); 13R/31L – 945m (3,099ft)


San Carlos Airport (SQL / KSQL)

  • Distance: 18 miles
  • Operating hours: 0600-2200
  • Facilities: FBO services provided by Rabbit Aviation Services
  • Fuel: 100LL, Jet-A
  • Runway: 12/30 – 792m (2,600ft)


Hayward Executive Airport (HWD / KHWD)

  • Distance: 30 miles
  • Operating hours: 24 hours
  • Facilities: FBO services from Meridian and APP Jet Center Hayward
  • Fuel: 100LL, Jet-A
  • Runway: 10R/28L – 1,736m (5,694ft); 10L/28R – 947m (3,107ft)


Livermore Municipal Airport (LVK / KLVK)

  • Distance: 33 miles
  • Operating hours: Mon-Fri 0730-1500, Sat-Sun 0700-1100
  • Facilities: FBO services provided by Five Rivers Aviation
  • Fuel: 100LL, Jet-A
  • Runway: 7L/25R – 1,601m (5,253ft); 7R/25L – 823m (2,699ft)


Oakland International Airport (OAK / KOAK)

  • Distance: 38 miles
  • Operating hours: 24/7
  • Facilities: FBO services from Kaiser Air and Signature
  • Fuel: 100LL, Jet-A
  • Runway: 2/30 – 3,206m (10,520ft); 10R/28L – 1,894m (6,213ft); 10L/28R – 1,664m (5,458ft); 15/33 – 1,029m (3,376ft)


Half Moon Bay Airport (HAF / KHAF)

  • Distance: 39 miles
  • Operating hours: 0830-1630
  • Facilities: FBO by San Mateo County
  • Fuel: 100LL self-service available 24 hours
  • Runway: 12/30 1,524m (5,000ft)
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About Author


Ben has worked all of his career as a journalist and now editor, covering almost all aspects of technology, engineering and industry. In the last 20 years he has written on subjects from nuclear submarines and autonomous cars to future design and manufacturing technologies and commercial aviation. Latterly editor of a leading engineering magazine, he brings an eye for a great story and lots of experience to the team.

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