Saturday, August 29, 2009

Out of LA

We arrived from HNL yesterday, now follow along as we push back from gate 54B at LAX, wrap up a four day trip and return to DTW.

Now that we've moved over to the Delta gates on the south side of LAX, (which offers better culinary choices... BUT NO STARBUCKS) I have a new perspective of this historic old airfield. However, each time I've pushed back and taxied out, I've been sent over to the north complex to depart off 24L. We're on Bravo taxiway, headed west to the crossover taxiways when we site BA 747, One World.

Now on taxiway Quebec, we pass this A-380 on our way to taxiway Echo in the north complex. Present, but not visible in this shot, was another QANTAS A-380 to the left. Do you know what QANTAS means? Leave a comment.

In fact, here it is. Although I recognize it as an engineering marvel, aesthetically I don't find this airplane pleasing. Would you like a tour of this aircraft? Click here. Or, visit Chris Sloan's AIRCHIVE.COM site and go to his Inaugural A-380 commercial flight tour. Be prepared to spend time here though... but don't forget to come back!

Here's an interesting view of a United Triple 7 shortly after takeoff, in fact the gear doors are just opening to allow the mains to be safely stowed away. There's a lot of "sequencing" going on here, initiated simply by moving the gear handle into the "up" position. What I mean by that, is the gear can't begin its upward motion (or downward travel) until the gear doors are open and the path is clear. This process is accomplished with "hydraulic sequencing valves" that create an order of events. When the gear handle is moved, hydraulic pressure is applied, gear doors open, the gear over center locks break, the gear moves back and inward, locks into position and then the gear doors close. I'm unfamiliar with a B-777, but on the 757 now, we'd move the gear handle to neutral, relieving hydraulic pressure allowing the gear to suspend from the up locks. You can imagine can't you, what that gear assembly and six trucks must weigh.

Nice touch on this American 757 with the LAX control tower in the background.

Just off runway 24L we're flying the LOOP FOUR departure, an LNAV/VNAV, or in Airbus parlance, a managed departure. After reaching 5,000 feet, departure control gives us a left turn (180 degrees) direct to the LAX VOR to cross it at or above 10,000 feet and resume the SID. LAX ATC does a great job moving a lot of traffic as we approach the field climbing eastbound towards the San Gabriel Mountains, Death Valley and Las Vegas.

Overhead LAX, you have a clear view of downtown Los Angeles over the nose. Do you see the plume of smoke just ahead? Just east of the city at the base of the San Gabriel Mountains, this massive fire erupted yesterday as we circled to land on 25L. Eighteen hours later it's still raging out of control.

This area is the Angeles National Forrest, where more than 1200 firefighters and numerous air tankers and helicopters are doing battle. While waiting at our downtown hotel this morning for our limo to the airport, the acrid, pungent odor of smoke lay heavy over the city.

Our last look at the Angeles National Forrest fire as we climb above it, pass over Death Valley and turn directly to Las Vegas, Nevada.

Overhead LAS headed towards Bryce Canyon, looking from my copilots side window, we easily view Lake Mead and a small portion of the Hoover Dam. I visited the Dam about a year ago on a LAS layover and enjoyed the experience, even though I dislike Las Vegas. I've been told that Delta has greatly improved our accommodations here, which may change my viewpoint, but when we stayed at Circus Circus with NWA, it was depressing.

Just 30 miles south of Las Vegas, Lake Mead is the nations largest reservoir, created by the Hoover Dam. The white band that you see, also referred to as the "bathtub ring," indicates just how low the reservoir is.

Flying over the very northern section of the Grand Canyon by Lake Powell, the nations second largest reservoir created by the Glen Canyon Dam, we'll soon enter mountainous territory as the Rocky Mountains lie just ahead.

I have a few days off now and plan to get out and enjoy the Cub before flying an Amsterdam trip next week. As usual, thanks for following along.



  1. QANTAS is an acronym which stands for Queensland And Northern Territories Air Services

  2. Luis is right! Mr. Peck, then what is the meaning behind Cathay Pacific, I've always wondered.


  3. Queen's Ale Not Tempered As Stoute?

    How are the new digs working for you Rand?

    See you down the line...


  4. Quite A Nice Trip; All Survived?

    Thanks for the new post!

    Tim G in MN

  5. Hello Rand... nice LA pics... specially of the couple of A380's (I don't think there are many places where you can see 2 of these megabirds together).

    Michael, Cathay is a name given to China by Marco Polo in medieval times... so I find it very appropiate for the Hong Kong based airline.

    Have nice flights Rand... take care.

  6. All the aviation goodies in this post and yet the item that sticks in my mind most.....Circus Circus?! You're quite charitable to describe that place as "depressing". As somebody who has flown NW to LAS, I apologize if in any way, no matter how small, I contributed to a flight crew being forced to endure a single night at that place.

  7. Lovely picture of the 747 on the header. Heavy as it is, it always looks quite capable of a graceful touchdown or climbout. Do you regret not moving up to the whale? Or have you already had the pleasure and had other considerations on schedules or whatnot?

    Nice description of the LAX Loop 4.lax departure. As (still) an instrument student I enjoy following along as much as I can on commercial flights in the cabin. I admit bringing along my Garmin GPS on a MSP-SFO 757 flight last week, just to identify the route and overflown airports. OK, I'm a nerd, but it's fun knowing groundspeed and location enroute, even if I have to turn it off below 10k.

  8. Thanks everyone for the response to Qantas and the info on Cathay. Joe, although Circus Circus is depressing, you've contributed greatly to a wonderful life... thanks! Sarah, I'd love to fly the 747-400, but it's a seniority and ALPA merger issue. I think that I'll leave it at that. Several years ago on a flight from DTW to LAX, we started out flying to the north to avoid a line of thunderstorms. A passenger, tracking our progress with a GPS was baffled by our northerly route and sent a note forward via our lead flight attendant. He wrote, "you do know that we're going to LA right?" I scribbled back, "we're going to LA???"
    Tim, the new world HQ location is wonderful, we love our little 1780 cape.


  9. Personally, I find all of Las Vegas depressing. I avoid everything connected to it except the airport(s).

    Ah, so no 747. So it goes. The 757 is even more lovely ( see masthead North American ) so there's that.

    I would not presume to question the flightdeck about a gps track - possibly the passenger was joking too? I'd love to follow along with ATC, listening, but there's no way to do that without something like United's channel 9 audio program. I don't think bringing a handheld radio would be a good idea!

  10. A pilot friend of mine once told me how much he loved flying the 757/767 series. His comment was that you almost had to fight them to keep them on the ground. He now flies 777's primarily but misses his beloved 75/76's.

    I liked some of the alternate meanings for Qantas but my favorite alternate is for ETOPS - Engines Turn Or People Swim.

    Always looking forward to your next post - safe flights!