so, the way it works is that the hot exhaust from the jet turbines blow across the body of the fuselage, directly crossing your view and making any single light source ripple by refraction that occurs due to a rapidly shifting, turbulent air density.
so, what you see is a series of shimmering grids sliding beneath you, burbling, roiling, busily modulating as you mentally squint while trying to make out that familiar shape of the city, that gestalt of each borough and especially that tapering of a peninsula, the bulge on the lower east side then the inward-moving shores and slips of the financial district, and what should be a long dark rectangle of the park above. that's what you know. but it's five am, the lights of the city aren't on yet, and everything you look at seems to be what you're looking for.
san francisco is gorgeous.
what's left are just the facts, the kind that become clearer the further away you step back from them.