Sunday, December 31, 2017


Just before Christmas, SpaceX launched a Falcon 9 rocket from the California coast. While I was away, special photo credit goes to CS, who caught a series of shots that are sequenced below:

Here are a few more shots that didn't fit in the animation:

Special thanks to CS for these shots. Happy New Year everyone!

Monday, December 4, 2017

Catching up

I was doing so well for a while, and then all of a sudden it's been well over a month since I've posted. Oops. There is some good news though: in the interim I've had two trainees finish their training. Congrats to JB, our newest journeyman controller at LAX. And welcome back to TT, who was out for a while but has now returned. Of course, no good deed goes unpunished: Having gotten rid of those two trainees, I've been awarded two more!

Otherwise, today's entry is a collection of interesting shots from the time away. Enjoy!

I got to drive this!

The MD-87 was a rare bird when it was new. Nowadays, it's very uncommon indeed.

SkyWest now flies for Alaska Airlines at LAX, in addition to American, Delta, and United.

A SkyWest E-175 with a Delta A319

Horizon still flies for Alaska at LAX as well. This is the first Horizon airplane I've seen in the new Alaska livery.

Volaris has a revised livery; this is the first example seen at LAX

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Full Moon Rising

Last week's Hunter's moon rose up right between the north and south finals into LAX. 
Special credit goes to UW for catching this photo!

Friday, September 8, 2017

Photo Friday

This week's edition of Photo Friday features several shots taken by my coworkers, who have many times helped out by grabbing photos when I'm not able. The opening shot is one, thanks to CG. The final Delta Airlines domestic B747 flight pushing out for departure, accompanied by a band of baton-waving ramp crew. Delta and United, the two remaining US mainline carriers who operate the B747, both have announced plans to retire the type from their fleets this year. Speaking of retiring, CG will soon be leaving our ranks as well, and we'll miss him.

 A comment was posted recently, asking if we have camera coverage of any of the hidden TBIT gates. We do, sometimes. When it works, this is about the best display that we get of the west side of the TBIT. The black square is supposed to be another view from a camera that we can control, but clearly we couldn't on the day this shot was taken. As you can see, the gates have been labelled for easier identification. I think SM gets credit for that. All of them are currently occupied with the exception of 134, at the far left. The gate next to it, 132, is currently closed for underground construction.

While Texas was recently in the news for hurricane Harvey, LA was in the news for the La Tuna fire. We could see the fire from the tower at night, but none of those shots came out clear enough to use. This is the towering cumulus cloud produced over the fire one day. One of our controllers had family threatened by this fire - he showed me phone pics of the fire taken from their back yard. They had to evacuate, but fortunately the fire didn't actually make it to their house. As it so happens, he is also one of the ones who particularly likes to play with the camera. Most of his shots I'm not allowed to publish, but here's one that came out really nice:

I don't recall why I took this next photo, but it was about 7 in the morning:

This one was taken just 5 minutes later:

Both of those are just as they came out of the camera. It's impressive how fast the visibility can change at LAX. 

And finally, another couple of shots that I can't take credit for. We see this way too often at LAX:

Friday, September 1, 2017

Photo Friday: Southwest at the TBIT

When Southwest first started flying international at LAX, their inbound international flights would park at Terminal 2 because U.S. Customs isn't available at Terminal 1. Here's a view of Terminal 2 from last September:

When they were using gates at Terminal 2, Southwest would usually reposition the aircraft to one of their Terminal 1 gates once the inbound passengers and cargo were unloaded. But now that their international arrivals are at the TBIT, most of those airplanes go back out as flights from the TBIT instead of repositioning. We've noticed Southwest buses running between the TBIT and a bus gate adjacent to Gate 12A.

In the shot above, a bus can be seen between the construction area and the tent that houses baggage sorting, while another bus is waiting. The bus has to back down an alley that runs to the foot of the stairs, better seen in the shot below:

Occasionally, we'll see something else parked there:

In rare instances, Southwest will actually be assigned Gate 151 at the TBIT. This gate is at the head of the C-10 alley, and is almost invisible from the tower. I've highlighted it in the shot below:

In the shot above. Southwest has just left Gate 151 and is about to exit the C-10 alley. You can see the open end of the jetway just under the first "1" of the 151 that I put in. Below is a shot of how the gate appears from the tower when it is occupied. Gate 151 is a narrow-body gate, most often used by COPA. As you can see, it's very difficult to see if someone is parked on this gate, and almost impossible to tell who it is:

Friday, August 25, 2017

Photo Friday: Construction update

The weather has not been all that conducive to taking good photos this week, so this edition of Photo Friday is going to stick to updates on some of the construction on the airport. The big news, for which I don't seem to have a photo, is that Runway 25 Right has fully reopened. It has been shortened at the west end for construction of the runway end safety area for months now, but we got the full length back earlier this week.

The opening shot shows dueling cranes last weekend. The A380 behind on Taxiway R isn't completely hidden, but it looks like smaller aircraft will completely disappear behind the new terminal. Here's another view, taken yesterday. In this shot, the Korean A380 is on a temporary parking area called the North Pad, which will eventually make way for the Taxiway T extension.

Speaking of airplanes disappearing, we already have that situation behind the American maintenance hangar, seen in the photo below. Also seen is the southern end of the midfield concourse construction area. Eventually, the construction will take out the American maintenance hangar and ramp completely, as LAWA's ultimate goal seems to be to eradicate all maintenance activities at LAX.

In previous postings, I've shown you the on-going work at Terminal 1. In a comment, I mentioned that similar work is happening at Terminal 8 as well. As seen in this shot, Gate 84 is currently under renovation:

Friday, August 18, 2017

Photo Friday: The Mad Dog lives!

Back in May, I chronicled the disappearance of the MD-80 from the LAX scene. Last weekend, someone at Allegiant apparently took exception and decided to show me that I had it wrong!

Here's an interesting thing: the sunbursts on these two appear to be the reverse of each other; one is orange at the center with yellow spikes, while the other is yellow centered with orange spikes.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

So what was wrong about that photo?

Nearly a month ago, I showed you this shot and asked what was wrong here. Apologies both for the poor quality of the photo and the wait for an explanation. Several of you guessed it though: the A380 has exited Runway 24 Right onto Taxiway AA. This by itself isn't a problem, as AA is a taxiway which the A380 is allowed to use. The catch, as one of you also noted, is that while the A380 is allowed to use that taxiway, it shuts down both runways (24L and 24R) when it does so. The A380 cannot hold short of Runway 24 Left on AA because even if the nose of the airplane is clear of the hold line, the left wingtip extends into the runway safety area. Thus, there is no advantage to the controller to allow the A380 to exit onto AA unless there is no pending traffic for Runway 24 Left. The usual technique is to send the A380 to the end of Runway 24 Right so that it will exit onto Taxiway BB. On BB, the A380 is able to hold short of Runway 24 Left, and therefore allow the controller to continue to use that runway for traffic. This is normally done to enable one or two more departures to take off before the next arrival to Runway 24 Right. The next 24R arrival forces the controller to send the A380 across 24L, because the A380 holding short of 24L on BB is still fouling 24R. This is just one of the many tricks and catches to having the A380 at LAX. For those of you playing the home game, have a look at some obsolete samples of the quick reference diagrams that we have. Please note that these are solely for your reading enjoyment, and are not to be used for navigation:

Friday, August 11, 2017

Photo Friday: Crappy photos

This week opens with a very late night shot from earlier this week. Hainan's Dreamliners are pretty colorful, but this one was worth even a lousy photo.

I glanced up and just had a chance to shoot this through the window shades; can't tell you how they fixed it!

Continuing the theme of poor photography, here are this week's construction photos, taken yesterday afternoon:

And just for fun, here are a couple of shots from the archives:

One year ago

Two years ago