In The Voyage Home, why didn't park-goers bump into the cloaked Bird-of-Prey (also known as the "HMS Bounty") more often?

It seemed to be a fairly active park in an urban area (San Francisco). Shouldn't more joggers be colliding face-first into the landing struts? You might imagine that frisbees and baseballs would have been bouncing off of the hull. What about birds dropping out of the sky after banging their noggins on the invisible obstacle?

You would also think that a few incidents of walking into an invisible object would cause a stir of some kind.

  • I'm asking this as a separate question from scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/80100, thanks to encouragement from @Richard.
    – Praxis
    Jan 26, 2015 at 15:09
  • 4
    I imagine rain would be a spectacle. Jan 26, 2015 at 16:40
  • I dont have the time to screen cap the movie right now, but... they DID run into the landing strut.
    – Tritium21
    Jan 26, 2015 at 17:25
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    Obviously the Klingon cloak also functioned as a perception filter.
    – Hypnosifl
    Jan 26, 2015 at 19:29
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    I once read a crossover fanfic, where a stir of some kind did get caused. And ten years later, a certain FBI agent came across the cold case and looked into the matter. No link available, sorry. Jan 29, 2015 at 21:08

2 Answers 2


The crew spent less than 48 hours in 1986. Arrived near dawn, went to Cetecean Institute that same morning then Kirk had dinner with Dr. Gillian Taylor that same day. During dinner Gillian says the whales will be transported tomorrow noon during a press event.

Voyage Home (the scene with the two garbage men near dawn)

The onshore breeze came up. It blew away the diesel fumes and brought a marshy, low-tide smell from the sea. Soon it would disperse the mist. Javy liked working the early shift; even on foggy days he liked dawn. A few minutes ago, before sunrise, he and Ben had seen a shooting star, surprisingly distinct in the fog.

Golden gate park is 1.583 square miles (4.1 square kilometers). The chances are slim that anyone will run into invisible landing struts in the middle of a meadow.

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Conveniently there is no canon date for the arrival of the HMS Bounty. So the writers must have intended for viewers to choose a month where park visitors are at the minimum, which further reduces the chance of detection.

The official novelization also mentions that the garbage collectors were there on an early monday morning. (A Monday would guarantee a lot less visitors to the park). Also supported by the two lonesome joggers during the Bounty departure

Voyage Home

Monday mornings were always worst as far as garbage was concerned. His heavy gloves scraping on the asphalt, Javy scooped up the loose trash and pitched it into the park garbage can. He and Ben were only supposed to empty the cans, but Javy hated seeing Golden Gate Park trashed after every weekend, so sometimes he broke the rules.

The novelization mentions Kirk looking at the newspaper dispenser but conveniently Kirk does not notice the date.

Voyage Home (scene where Kirk is looking at the newspaper dispenser)

"Dow Jones Bull Turns Bear." The first two he found completely incomprehensible. He assumed the third to be a report on genetic engineering, though he did not quite understand why Jones would want to change a bull into a bear.

"Nuclear Arms Talks Stalled." That one he understood.

"It's a miracle these people ever got out of the twentieth century," McCoy said.

Jim waited for the headline to dissolve into a news story, but nothing happened. He wondered if the news machine were broken. Probably street machines were not as reliable now as they were in his own time. He looked for a way to key it to the subject he needed, but saw no controls. Perhaps it was more sophisticated than it looked and could be operated by voice...

...Newspapers? That was it. The antique novels he had read sometimes mentioned newspapers, but. never newspaper machines. They described young newspaper carriers running down the street crying "Extra!" Jim wondered how anyone kept up with the news here. These headlines must be hours old.

Actual Movie location: http://www.movie-locations.com/movies/s/Star_Trek_IV.html#.VMd8sS7SWow ‘Golden Gate Park’, though, where the crew parks the ‘Bird of Prey’, is actually Will Rogers State Park, 14253 Sunset Boulevard, Pacific Palisades in Los Angeles.

  • Thanks. Forgot about the joggers during the Bounty departure edited and added :)
    – tls
    Jan 30, 2015 at 11:03
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    The image of the whole park from above suggests that most of it is covered in trees, and that open grassy areas make up a relatively small fraction of its area, which I think would increase the chances that people would be walking on them.
    – Hypnosifl
    Jan 30, 2015 at 13:31
  • google.com/maps/place/Golden+Gate+Park/… Google Maps should give a better idea of the scale and how many open areas there are (just switch to satellite view)
    – tls
    Jan 30, 2015 at 13:38
  • "Golden gate park is 1.583 square miles (4.1 square kilometers). The chances are slim that anyone will run into invisible landing struts in the middle of a meadow." Seeing how much of the park is trees then I would say that it would add to the chances if they park it in the middle of a meadow. Thats where people in parks hang out after all...
    – Jakob
    Jul 30, 2015 at 8:37

I live in the area, and the ball fields are not heavily used outside of baseball season because the diamonds are off-limits for casual play to prevent damage. People sometimes walk dogs on the grass outside the diamonds, but most stay on the pathways. Other areas of the park are more popular for picnicking and such. If the weather is cold, it is possible to imagine the field being deserted long enough for the plot line to hold.

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