High Speed Rail to LAX

Chicago’s outgoing Mayor Daley wants high speed rail from the city’s downtown to O’Hare International Airport. It would be the first of its kind in the United States – meaning that it would be fast, convenient, and far too logical for American politicians to actually build.

Your move, @villaraigosa.

A few years back, I proposed the Metro Flyline – a rail network from Union Station to every airport in the region. It was kind of a joke, in that not many people need to hop a train from Downtown Los Angeles to fly their personal jet out of Van Nuys Airport. But what about a line that did service the major transportation hubs in the region? A high speed TRIANGLE, connecting LAX, Bob Hope in Burbank and Union Station.

Put it all underground. Run the whole thing elevated. Tunnel through every living room in Beverly Hills.

I don’t know where the money would come from. I don’t know ridership numbers. I don’t know environmental impact blahbitty blah. What I do know, is that people would use it. Isn’t that what mass transit is for?

The point here is that it’s time for Los Angeles to start thinking big again. No matter how far-fetched and ridiculous it may seem. Let other cities celebrate highway widenings and Target openings. We’re better than that.

Maybe someday, we’ll have a mayor that won’t mind rolling up his sleeves and putting in a solid 8 hours of work.

Air Force One Drops In To L.A.

Air Force One returns to LAX Thursday afternoon.

As I’ve previously mentioned, it’s pretty exciting when Air Force One is at LAX. It is, after all, probably the most recognizable 747 in the country, if not the world. In addition to being exciting to see, it can also be a tremendous pain in the ass. If Air Force One is here, that means the President is, too. And that likely means especially bad traffic on L.A.’s streets.

If you’re a fan of plane spotting, I’m here to give you the hot tip. Pick your spot on the lawn next to In-N-Out on Sepulveda on Thursday afternoon. If all goes according to schedule, Air Force One will cross directly in front of you as it comes in to land at 2:45pm. I always recommend getting there at least 30-60 minutes early, as this flight sometimes runs ahead of schedule.

If you’re not a fan of plane spotting (or heavy traffic,) I’m here to give you the hot tip. Stay the hell away from West L.A. on Thursday afternoon! President Obama arrives in mid-afternoon and will be heading to Sony Studios in Culver City to appear at a fundraiser for his reelection campaign. The Secret Service has worked closely with LAPD and LADOT to mitigate the traffic caused by the presidential motorcade, but seriously, how much can they do? Traffic in that area is typically bad anyway. Add the President to the mix, and things could get ugly.

President Obama will spend the night in southern California, then depart on Friday morning. Scheduled departure is 8:55am, if you plane spotters would like to see AFO in flight again. Remember to set up at the opposite end of the airport, as departing flights head out over the ocean.

Plane Spotting: Wrap-Up

Clickably gigantifiable.

Last week I mentioned an opportunity to have a (semi) up-close gander at Air Force One as it arrived at LAX yesterday. Did you go?

The President and his posse arrived about 40 minutes ahead of schedule Monday afternoon, which worked out really well for those of us who had gotten there early. It meant beating the worst of the afternoon traffic coming back up through downtown.

Now, speaking of the traffic, I heard it was terrible virtually everywhere yesterday. The Pres flew via Marine One from LAX to Beverly Hills, but once he got into the car bound for the DCCC fundraiser in Hancock Park, Secret Service street closures for the motorcade turned all of L.A. into one giant traffic clusterf*ck.

The obligatory snapshot with the plane.

For the record, I was there for the arrival. I had nothing to do with the resulting traffic.

If you were there, how was it from where you stood? In addition to the grassy knoll at In-N-Out, I saw a bunch of people perched above Imperial Highway on W. Imperial Avenue, which gave the advantage of being down toward the end of the runway where Air Force One was parked.

The rest of the photos from my vantage point on the runway can be found in this Flickr set.

Plane Spotting: The Presidential Edition

Air Force One, by Burns!

Los Angeles International Airport is a busy place, with flights coming and going to all corners of the world. If plane spotting is your thing, it’s a great place to see some interesting aircraft that you don’t get to see everyday. For instance, have you ever seen that beast, the Airbus A-380, come in for a landing?

If you’re interested in seeing Air Force One, Monday and Tuesday are the days. President Obama will be in Los Angeles for about 16 hours next week, so you’ve got an opportunity to see the First Aircraft (I don’t know; I just made that up) arrive on Monday afternoon and depart on Tuesday morning.

I’m told that the lawn in front of the In-N-Out on Sepulveda Blvd. is a great viewing spot, as it is just at the eastern end of the runway (where most flights touch down.) As Julia pointed out in a recent blogging.LA post, another good place to take in the action would be the observation deck atop LAX’s Theme Building.

What: Air Force One at LAX
When: Arriving approximately 4:10pm Monday.
Departing approximately 8:40am Tuesday.

So, if planes are your thing, here’s one that doesn’t come to town all that often. Go check it out. Of course, LAX will be crawling with extra security and a few Secret Service marksmen, so don’t try to get up close and personal for a snapshot like this one:

Photo by Angela Daves-Haley

A Visit To The Theme Building Observation Deck at LAX

Will and Sean are into cycling. Alexandra is into donuts. I’m into airplanes.

As mentioned earlier this month, the Observation Deck on the Theme Building at LAX is once again open to the public. On Saturdays and Sundays from 8-5 you can watch planes take off and land on all four runways at once to your heart’s content. I did just that on Sunday and had to tear myself away after almost two glorious hours breathing in the alternating jet exhaust and restaurant grill smells.

The Theme Building is all sparkly and new after it’s stucco fixing retrofit. The place is so fab retro, that even if you aren’t a plane junky, the building itself is a hoot. Behold the elevator to the O Deck.

Going Up!

And some some left over artifacts tickle the memory spots.

I love airports and airplanes and all things flight related, in fact, the first time I met fellow blogger Will Campbell was in March of 2007 when he posted about the A-380 making it’s inaugural flight to LAX. I joined him and many others on the grassy knoll near the In-N-Out to watch that behemoth land on 24R. Now Qantas flies that baby regularly to LAX. I didn’t see it land on Sunday, but it was parked down the way.

Size Does Matter

On the observation deck, you can walk all the way around and get great views of all parts of the airport. I have to admit I was taking so many pictures of airplanes, I only took two photos of the deck itself! It wasn’t crowded but there was a fairly steady stream of people coming and going, most with kids.

There are four free (OMG FREE!) scopes you can use to get an up close and personal view of the planes landing and taking off.

But the guy sitting on the bench over there came with his own binocs. I’m 99.9% sure he’s one of the many plane spotters out there who love an awesome location like the Observation Deck to do what they love most. He was fully prepared: Binoculars, notebooks, lunch, hat. Though he could have used a bit of sunscreen as that place reflects a TON of light off the various angles and facets of the Theme Building.

Looking North
Looking West

But let’s get to why we are here! Huge jets are fun to watch. 747s have always been my favorite and I got treated to plenty of arrivals and take offs of those big beauties.

Come on big boy!
Oh yeah!

Watching them take off always makes the laws of physics seem impossible.

"Climb, baby, climb!"

(By the way, if you know where the quote from the above image comes from, you’ll win my undying admiration. Tell me in the comments!)

The Air Force made an appearance as well.

C-130

The Observation Deck is a blast. I would bring a picnic next time and stay for even longer. The Deck itself is free, but parking is not. I recommend sunscreen if you are staying longer than a few minutes as it is BRIGHT up there. Bring binoculars, bring a camera, bring your love of flying!

See you up there…

Theme Building At LAX To Reopen July 10

After three years of refurbishment, the Theme Building at LAX will officially reopen this Saturday July 10. The most exciting part? The Observation Deck, closed to the public since 9/11 will also be open. If you are an airplane nut like me, this is COOL!

Three years ago a large chunk of the stucco fell from one of the arches onto the roof of the building and inspections revealed a few problems. The building was closed, scaffolding erected and fixes were made. Encounter Restaurant was closed for a about eight months while construction continued. Now the building is scaffold free and all gussied up for the reopening.

The Theme Building opened in 1961 and was designed by three different firms: Pereira & Luckman and Associates, Welton Becket and Associates, and Paul R. Williams. (Paul Williams also designed one of my other favorite buildings:  La Concha Motel in Las Vegas. I stayed there not long before it was moved to it’s final resting place.)

The observation deck will be open Saturdays and Sundays from 8-5. It is free to go up, though you must pay for parking and there are security checks. I personally look forward to being there in the not too distant future.

(Photo by x-ray delta one used under CC license.)

Improving LAX

A little art never hurt anyone, not even Tom Bradley.
A little art never hurt anyone, not even Tom Bradley.

The LA Times just highlighted this study by a group called Priority Pass that lists LAX as the third worst airport – in the world, behind Heathrow in London and Charles de Gaulle in Paris.  I’m a bit skeptical – after all, this group is comprised of frequent business travelers who probably expect foot massages when they land.  Personally, I think there are other domestic airports that are worse (Houston’s comes to mind, and not because it’s in Texas).  Nonetheless, we all know that our home port could use a little (a lot) of improvement.  The airport has received over a billion recession dollars to improve and upgrade its facilities, and the LA Times has some ideas on how to use this money (some are blatantly silly, others are more serious).  My top gripes are after the jump.

Continue reading “Improving LAX”

President Obama: Wheels Down At LAX

President Barack Obama disembarks Air Force One at LAX, 27 May 2009. Photo by Burns!
President Barack Obama disembarks Air Force One at LAX, 27 May 2009. Photo by Burns!

Air Force One touched down at LAX this afternoon at 12:55pm, bringing President Obama to southern California for an evening fund raiser in Beverly Hills for the Democratic National Committee. Although the President will spend the night in Los Angeles, he will make no public appearances and will depart early tomorrow morning.

I was somewhat disappointed that the President turned immediately toward the helicopter when he reached the bottom of the stairs. I had hoped that he would approach the press pool, even if only for a few questions. Sadly, not even a nod in our direction.

What it’s like to stand in the shadow of Air Force One and more (better) photos after the jump. All pics, including the one above, gain both size and awesomeness when you click them. Go! Continue reading “President Obama: Wheels Down At LAX”

By the Time L.A.’s Subway Reaches the Sea, You Could be Dead

Metro has released new timelines for several transit projects that could change the way you commute around Los Angeles. The problem is, there aren’t enough of them. And the ones they do have could take decades to finish.

Expo Line to Santa Monica? Not until 2015.

It could be 2018 before the Green Line reaches LAX.

The Purple Line won’t reach Westwood until 2032.

The Valley won’t be able to catch anything except the 405 to the Westside until 2038.

It is refreshing to see Metro putting everything on the table for us to see. But this sure isn’t going to feed the millions of people coming over for dinner. Shouldn’t someone start cooking a little faster?

Consider: Construction began on The New York City subway in 1900. Less than five years later, 21 miles of tunnels and 58 miles of track were completed.

Monday Bullets: Where In The World Is Westlake?

  • Sunset Junction isn’t what it used to be, and that ain’t a good thing. Militant Angeleno finds hipsters and “racially segregated” stages, all while looking in from the outside of a chainlink fence. Tear down this wall!
  • The L.A. Times is asleep at the word processor again. LA Cowboy gives them a history lesson about the historic Westlake neighborhood. It is now virtually impossible for them to graduate without extra credit.
  • LAist reports that Downtown L.A. could see the return of a streetcar within 5 years. Mainly, because Metro would not be in charge. (UPDATE: CurbedLA points to a Downtown News report that it could be 2 years away. 2 YEARS!!!)
  • When Are We Going To California? would like to ask LAX a few questions about their security procedures. Why are the lines always so long? Why can’t you hire more TSA workers? Does the full body cavity search include a happy ending?

David Markland contributed to Monday Bullets. He’s swell.

Photo from wordcat57’s photostream

Big Ol’ Jet Airliner Landing at LAX Tomorrow

UPDATE: Thanks to commenter Chennessey, The Emirates flight will land at 9:20am on one of the south runways and depart LAX at approximately 11:00am for a tour of the LA skies, land at 12:30 then sleep over, departing tomorrow at 8am for NY.a380-800-6604_tcm233-248222.jpg Tomorrow (August 5) Emirates Airlines will be landing it’s Airbus A380 on one of the two south runways at LAX.  I’ve heard conflicting landing times.  Someone at the airport offices told me 9am, the woman at the Emirates 800 # told me 1pm.  This makes planning a viewing trip rather tricky!  If anyone knows more precise info, please comment.In case you don’t see the plane tomorrow, don’t worry.Qantas will be making regular A380 flights from LAX to Sydney and Melbourne starting in October, so the bubbleheaded behemoth will soon be a regular feature in Los Angeles. Emirates will begin direct flights from LAX to Dubai in October as well, but using their new Boeing 777s.  (Flight time only 16.5 hours!)To see video of the Airbus that landed in Los Angeles in March 2007, fly through the break. Continue reading “Big Ol’ Jet Airliner Landing at LAX Tomorrow”