Flying Over Orange County During COVID-19

Flying Over Orange County During COVID-19

Jason Daniel Shaw


During this Corona Virus pandemic, general aviation has still been allowed so we have been taking advantage of that by flying around Los Angeles to see how southern California is dealing with the shutdown. Last week we took a flight around Malibu and Hollywood. This week we decided to head south and check out Long Beach and the Orange County coastline from the air. Before we left Santa Monica Airport and during pre-flight, we got a treat and caught a glimpse of a pretty cool looking Pilatus PC-7 (N901AK) taking off runway 21 and doing an early turnout for noise abatement right over our head. It was good to see other general aviation flights still flying.


We were headed south so, as usual, we took off runway 21, offset for noise abatement and then we made a climbing 270 at the shoreline, right over the Santa Monica Pier. The pier looked extremely weird without all of the normal activity and tourists. The beaches were just as empty. As the 405 and the 10 interchange came into view, you could see the freeways were a ghost town for Los Angeles. I have said over the last few weeks that if you had never been to Los Angeles until COVID-19, it looks as if the city has not even shut down. The streets and freeways look like any other American city right now. However, having lived in LA for almost 12 years now, I know that LA is nothing like most other American cities. Los Angeles is always jam-packed everywhere so what looks like a normal city anywhere else it really a ghost town for us here. LAX is another example of how COVID-19 has affected Los Angeles. The arriving and departing traffic out of LAX is minimal compared to normal. As we exited the other side of LAX and the LA Special Flight Rules, we descended to get a better look at the Los Angeles Harbor. There were quite a few of Carnival and Regent cruise ships sitting empty around the harbor because of the Coronavirus. These cruise ships that are often sailing the Pacific with thousands of passengers are now like ghost ships.


Heading further south down the Orange County coast, Marco and I turned around at Dana Point and descended to just 500 feet to tour the incredible beaches of Laguna and the massive cliff-side mansions on the way back towards LA. We got a great look at thousand steps beach and the secret Laguna Beach pools. I spotted at least a dozen homes that I would love to be quarantined in. The Montage in Laguna Beach looked eerily quiet but just as beautiful as always. The famous surf spot in Newport Beach, the Wedge, was deserted. The Newport Beach Pier and the Huntington Beach Pier were quiet as well. The Coronavirus has really turned the world upside down. It is unlike anything that I have ever seen.


Back in LA, we made our way under the Bravo airspace and around downtown. That took us over the LA river, to the east of downtown. It gave us a great look at the many bridges crossing the river and an up-close view of the USC Medical Campus. As expected, Dodger Stadium and the Griffith Observatory were shuttered. As we passed the Hollywood sign, it reminded me of the days of hiking in Griffith Park and the Wisdom Tree. Don’t take anything for granted, even just getting outside.

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