Flying to LAX in a Cessna 172
Jason Daniel Shaw
LOS ANGELES INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT (LAX)
For us involved with general aviation here in Southern California, flying into Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) is the holy grail for flying opportunities. With the reduced commercial airline traffic arriving at LAX due to the current situation, we decided to capitalize on the opportunity. The flight from Santa Monica Airport is a short one but none-the-less exciting for us pilots.
SMO (SANTA MONICA AIRPORT) TO LAX
Departing Santa Monica, I was a little nervous about how all of the controllers would react and treat us. We picked up flight following while still taxiing and let them know that Signature at LAX was our final destination. There was no pushback so we were set. Even though you can fly into LAX during normal circumstances, you may have to hold for quite a while so that they can sequence you in. Plus, I have always though that, unless you have a reason to land there, there is no need to stress the controllers out for no reason. However, our flight was so simple with the lightened traffic. We departed on a left downwind, toward downtown Los Angeles before switching over to LAX tower. Almost immediately, we were told to turn base for 24R. The excitement started to build. The views were incredible as we flew the same approach that I had landed on commercial flights so many times before. As we taxied across the airport from the north complex to the south complex, you could really see how empty the airport had become over the weeks.
LAX TO SMO (SANTA MONICA AIRPORT)
After a brief stop at Signature LAX, we got our clearance and were given the south complex (25R) for departure. Again, it was a familiar views on the takeoff but a different feeling being the one flying it. We were given a right turn at the shoreline which was surprising to me because that meant we would cross the north complex and 24R and 24L, further confirming how slow the airport had become. It offered us an amazing and unique view of the airport on crosswind. The flight back to Santa Monica was just a short hop but a memory that won’t soon be forgotten. All of the LAX controllers were extremely friendly and accommodating towards us general aviation pilots. I hope you enjoyed watching our experience as much as we did flying it.