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Spotting at LAX (again, quite long)

Posted by bluewhale 
Spotting at LAX (again, quite long)
December 24, 2010 02:29AM
Reed and I got down to the ground transportation in front of Terminal 3, and we knew we had to catch the Sepulveda Parking Spot shuttle. We waited for about 10 minutes, when one came. It is important to flag down these shuttles, otherwise they won’t stop.

Ground level in LAX

The shuttle dropped us off in their parking garage, and we cautiously made our way out the door that said ‘In N Out Access’ and we were there! The line was long so we decided to immediately order and then we got a seat outside.

Yes, this is the view from the outside of In N Out!

In N Out!!!

After about 10 minutes of waiting, our food was ready! This In N Out is one of the more crowded ones, as it is next to LAX and therefore gets the clientele that just got off the plane and hasn’t had In N Out for months, as well as flight crews who are either here on a long layover, or here for the rest of the day. I’m glad that they were able to get everyone’s food up quickly, and it still tastes the same way as any other one!

3x3, Animal Style and extra pickles were hiding behind all that extra dressing…

At this point, I didn’t care at all about the planes; I just wanted to eat! I chowed down and I missed a few WN 737s and a KLM 747, but I didn’t care because I was in heaven with my lunch! The food was so good, I finished everything in about 15 minutes, and after cleaning up, it was time to go spotting.

Korean Air 747, I was still eating fries and sitting at our table!

Nothing is better than having a 747 land not more than 1000 feet away from you as you’re eating In N Out. Everyone outside looked up and watched it land, and there was a girl who even wanted to have her picture taken while a plane was landing. This In N Out is indeed its own tourist attraction!

Landing on 24R

We now decided to go across the street to the mini park for some closer shots!

AC E90 from YVR

Air Canada flight 552

2 Boeing wide bodies

This 763 is bound for YYZ as flight 792

I believe this is Alaska flight 569 to PDX

Our base

Arizona One – Boeing 737-300 with winglets

Here it comes

And there it goes

Operating flight 1510 from YYC

Blurry UA CRJ-700 – at this point I was merely practicing so I’d know what to do when a wide body comes.

Another practice shot

This was with my phone

Another spotter was here! Spotters are no strangers to this park, and there was another spotter here the next day having lunch and listening to his receiver.

Here’s what I’ve been waiting for!

It’s a BA 744, and it really is a B-A! (Bad A**) Never been so close to a 744 without riding on it before, but it was a real shame that it seems like we contaminated California with our crappy weather!

747s look really cool in the dirty configuration! Also note the Arizona One taxiing.

EK 772LR from DXB as flight 215

You can definitely see the raked wingtips – it was crooked because I messed up when it was flying over me so I had to act fast to get it before it touched down. But let’s just say it’s for effect.

AM 737-800 as flight 647 to MEX – there’s the other spotter

B6 A320 as flight 673 from JFK

I screwed up on this one as well – don’t worry, I get better!

The thing about wide bodies is that you really don’t need to use any zoom at all! Operating flight 12 from TPE.

But this plane is definitely in the landing, or dirty configuration!

Asiana 777-200ER as flight 204 from ICN

Whole plane in the old colors

I definitely messed up this AF 773

Here’s N583AS operating flight 564 from PDX, where I was standing just a few feet away from its left winglet a few hours ago!

WN 737-300 – N669SW’s wings are a sharp contrast to the 737NGs

WN 737-700 – N455WN

UA 767-300 – N668UA operating flight 934 from HNL

At this point, Reed wanted to move to the area directly under the threshold for runway 24R to see what pictures were like down there, and to also get a St. Maarten-like experience with the noise and the aircraft zooming from right overhead!

US A321 operating as flight 1580 to CLT

Centerline lights on Sepulveda Blvd.

Unfortunately, the plane that flew overhead was a rare Air New Zealand 767-300 with winglets, and I was so pissed that I wasn’t in the park to catch it! I blamed it on Reed, but the noise was cool.

But since that area was terrible for spotting and only good for the noise which you can get at the park, we quickly decided to go back to where were earlier.

Volaris A319 to Toluca as flight 917

The ‘Arizona One’ is leaving again

And at this point, WN was getting very repetitive and bland, so Reed didn’t care about shooting these. I only shot these for practice.

United Express CR7 – I believe this is N708SK

AS 734 – I think this is flight 562 from SEA, subbing for the 739 that is on this flight.

VX A320 – I’ll be flying in one of these too!

By now, traffic landing on the 24s had dropped off a bit, and we had been waiting at least 15 minutes for each plane to land. Check-in for the hotel started at 3:00, and the hotel was kind of a ways away and we had no mode of transportation, other than to walk. So at 2:50, we decided to call it a day here and go to the Hilton on Century Blvd.

There was a car parked next to the park that had this bumper sticker.

As we were walking down Sepulveda, this plane came in:

Here are the famous pillars all around the airport that LAX is known for – they light up and they change color.

And the various LAX signs around the airport – taken on Century Blvd.

So after about 20 minutes of walking, we got to the hotel. As we were walking on Century, we went past various airlines’ freight buildings, and we could see planes parked behind these buildings, and we knew we were definitely close to the airport. This would be even more realized when we got our room:

Yes, we could see all aircraft on approach for runway 25L and all aircraft departing runway 25R!

Allegiant MD-80 at a remote stand

Runway 25s

Century Blvd, looking west to the theme building

This took several tries to get to look even remotely clear, and it’s still quite grainy.

DL 757-300 landing on 25R

This was a 777-200LR, and it later parked at a remote stand right behind the US Airways Cargo building in the picture above I took of the threshold for runway 25L and R. But at that point, it was way too dark to grab a picture.

UA 757

Again, this took several tries to get even remotely clear, with full optical and digital zoom. Reed on the other hand, had all this special camera equipment and the photo came out clear for him!

LH 744 taxiing to runway 25R

A little clearer with less digital zoom

Beginning of the evening rush – an AA MD-80 and a DL 737-800 are in line for takeoff

Here is a particularly special AA 767-200 – N320AA, the “Flagship Independence” operating as flight 180 to JFK.

AA 767-200s are special, since you can only find them here, JFK, and SFO.

Look at the lineup later – a UA 777, EK 777, and an AA 757, and that’s an Asiana 747 parked next to the Allegiant MD-80.

At this point, it totally got way too dark to take any more pictures. So we just sat, talked, and watched the traffic depart for about an hour. We were tired and didn’t want to do much more, so we just went to the Carl’s Jr. next door to the hotel for dinner. Their burgers are good too, but nowhere as good as In N Out!

Our hotel room that faces runways 25L and R. This room is kind of loud as well, since you can definitely hear all the planes taking off. In fact, it seemed like some of the AA MD-80s that were departing were almost as loud as some of the 747-400s! Noise was not an issue for us though, as we slept right through it and we of course enjoy it. However, as I was getting out of the shower, I could still hear a 747-400 taking off, even though I was in an enclosed bathroom.

Can you guess what this is?

It’s the roof of this gigantic gingerbread house!

Front of said house.

When we got back, we decided to walk around the hotel and see what was there. Internet was at a premium, as it costs $12.95 for 24 hours, or $5.95 for an hour of use, so that was definitely not an option. Even the business center has those same rates. And these prices did not stop there, because if you ordered a 1 liter bottle of water, it costed $6. This was a real fancy hotel, and it showed! So having nothing else to do, we just decided to go back to our room, talk, and keep watching the traffic, and ‘guess’ what airline and what aircraft since it was dark. We think there were a lot of American Eagle ERJs departing, and I also saw what I believed to be a CO 777, which was unusual since they do not come to LAX. It was not departing, but rather it parked in one of the remote stands beyond Terminal 8, and from there I saw it was a UA 777 in the ‘new’ paint scheme. This 777 was an imposter, and is a big reason why I hate the new merger livery!

The next day, we woke up around 10:30 since we had been doing a lot yesterday. We needed to checkout, but we didn’t want to leave because of our really nice room. In fact, housekeeping already tried to come twice. But first, we watched the traffic from our really sweet room!

AA 757

China Eastern Cargo MD-11

Other angle of our room

A look down Century Blvd towards LAX to the west

Looking northwest – this is also the approach pattern for runways 24L and R

This is a Continental 757-200 followed by a United A320 right?

Wrong! It’s an imposter 757!

You would not think that these two planes belong to the same operating brand!

Big 777-300ER, operating flight 218 to DXB

The DL 777-200LR was parked in the remote stand in the lower left hand corner, but it left before I woke up.

Departing for another 16 hour or so flight!

Notice the difference in size between the 773 and the 738

A look west to LAX

After the EK 777 left, we decided that it was now time to get going and we checked out of the hotel. We had planned to go to Imperial Hill, but without a convenient mode of transportation, we figured going there would not be worth it because we also did not know what kind of spotting we could do. In contrast, In N Out was closer, and was a tried and true spotting point that was really close to the airport, so we decided to go there again. Reed did not want to walk the whole way again, as it took at least 20 minutes and he had a heavy backpack. So we instead went to the airport to print our tickets, and take the shuttle back to In N Out. We waited in the front of the hotel for about 5 minutes, and the shuttle picked us up and took us to Terminal 3 for Virgin America.

Even the ticket counter is cool! There were kiosks where you printed your own ticket, and that was the area that you went to check-in a bag.

After that, we went to the arrivals level and took the Sepulveda Parking Spot shuttle back to In N Out!

LAX theme building taken from the shuttle

The theme building is also home to the Encounter Restaurant, which is space-era themed.

And they just got done remodeling it for structural updates.

Once we were at the garage, we went out the ‘In N Out Access’ door and we were there! Since it was about 11:00 or so, we decided to do some spotting first at the park across the street from In N Out, then have lunch later.

Special – Shanghai Airlines Cargo MD-11

I’m actually pleased to say that I’ve seen quite a few trijets on this trip: several MD-10s and MD-11s from FedEx, an MD-11 from China Eastern, and now this MD-11.

That’s what’s going on at Terminal 3 right now.

There’s plenty of WN to go around…

Had the zoom in a little too much… China Airlines 747-400 as flight 6 from TPE.

In the dirty configuration for landing on runway 24R

With the “Free Bags Fly Here” titles

I was real mad that I messed this one up – I had the zoom in too much (I was thinking full zoom for regionals, ¾ for 737s and A320s, ½ for 757s, and ¼ or less for wide bodies, depending on the model) and my camera was slow, but what can you do? This A330 was subbing for the usual 767-300 from YYZ as flight 791.

Another special LAX plane – Air Pacific 747 over at the Tom Bradley terminal

United Express CRJ-700 – I later decided to move to the In N Out side of the street and away from the park to get a better angle since you can’t very easily see the reg. – you’ll see this soon.

This one came out well – N549UA. While editing this picture, I realized that zooming in perfectly at the time the picture is taken is not important, because you can crop out the picture and edit it, and you’ll get a higher quality plane without the risk of chopping out part of the plane.

This one is also special, since these won’t be around anymore. N712HQ is operating as Frontier flight 1737 from MCI operated by Republic. At this point, I now had a new spotting location, and it was standing on one of the stone seats of an In N Out table outside, across the street from the park.

This may be the last time I see a plane in the Midwest livery.

Eagle ERJ

One of WN’s earlier 737-700s that used to be in the beige livery and used to be without winglets

Another Air New Zealand 747-400 – I like this livery too. NZ is a very common visitor here, but this plane is quite uncommon in other places.

A newer WN 73G – WN’s blue paint scheme makes photographing these planes in this type of weather hard, since they become backlit much easier than a white plane.

A321s were also hard for me to photograph because whenever I looked to see what was coming, I thought these were A320s, since you can’t really tell the difference from a half a mile away. I would set up my camera with the appropriate amount of zoom, then get onto table, only to realize that it was a much longer A321 and by then it’s too late.

Eagle ERJ—these are easy to shoot because you can’t screw up with the zoom since they’re so small!

Terminal 1 is full of WN

Operating as flight 797 from YUL

I’m not going to lie; I have no idea what kind of plane this is.

Fellow spotter from CWU across the street

Yet another WN 73G – N746SW

United Express EM2

Here’s N754AS again, just it saw before my QX flight. I think it is operating flight 712 from YVR.

This picture is so good compared to the other one that you can actually see the tail number on this EM2.

At this point, there was another China Eastern A340-600 taxiing for takeoff, so I ran over to the far west side of the park by the road to shoot it and watch it leave. But while I was there, the “Arizona One” 737 was on approach so I had to run out to the sidewalk to catch it.

At least I got other shots of this plane.

Here’s the A340 in line for no. 2 behind the WN 737

Another plane landed while I was waiting for the A340 – VX A320 operating as flight 89 from IAD

This is indeed a long plane – B-6053

Taken with only full optical zoom

Holding in position on runway 24L – this was a great plane to watch, complete with noise from 4 engines!

Nevada One

LH 747-400 D-ABVE operating as flight 456 from FRA

CX 777-300ER operating as flight 882 from HKG, arriving almost an hour early

After shooting that CX wide body, we were now satisfied enough to have lunch as we had now been spotting for almost 2 hours. So we both put away our cameras and walked over to In N Out, which was by now quite crowded. While waiting in between landings, we have seen many people come and go at In N Out, and a lot of the usual California driving as a result; people gunning it to get to the stop sign, and people taking the turns quickly. It is a deep contrast to all of the Washington state drivers who all drive like old people. Drivers in California don’t mess around and they get the job done! Once we were inside, the line was almost to the door, but it moved pretty quickly, because this restaurant has very good service as I had saw earlier.

Behind the counter at In N Out – those French fry fryers all have timers to cook for 5 minutes

Orders awaiting delivery

This restaurant was still kind of hectic, just getting over to the soda machines, especially because I had my backpack on, so I met Reed outside. About 10 minutes later, they called my number. If you thought the burger I had before was big, then you ain’t seen nothing yet:

It was delicious! A 4x4 animal style with in theory, extra pickles hiding behind the tomatoes. Biggest In N Out burger I’ve had to date, and it was so large that I could not get the whole thing in my mouth at first.

After 15 minutes of pure heaven eating my last In N Out for a while, it was a quick trip to the bathroom to wash all of the burger fluids off my hands, and back to spotting down the street. Reed now joined me on my side of the street, instead of hanging out at the park.

Another WN 73G… the only reason why I kept shooting these was because I wanted to practice.

Something a little more exciting – an AM 73G in their old, but really cool paint scheme. No idea why they had to change it because I, as well as many others on a.net, think it’s a great livery. Operating as flight 647 to MEX.

Taxiing to 24L for takeoff

KLM 747-400

C-FMYV operating as flight 552 from YVR

United Express EMB-120 departing on 24L

US Airways Express CRJ-900 departing on 24L

Volaris A320 operating as flight 912 from GDL – my camera was late on this one

The only negative about spotting at In N Out is that you get a lot of WN 737s, which get very repetitive after a while.

2 AS 737-800s departing

But this was definitely a real treat! N782UA is coming in from LHR as flight 935. It is somewhat rare to have a UA plane land on 24R, since the UA terminal is on the 25 side.

WN 737-300

I tried a little experiment with this WN – I tried to get it over the numbers with the line-up and the parked Porsche in the same shot.

I tried again with this FL 737 operating as flight 887 from MKE

Asiana 777 operating as flight 214 from ICN

Here’s the AC A330 operating as flight 792 back to YYZ subbing for the usual 767.

I wanted good shots of this plane since I messed it up when it landed.

Here is quite a special visitor – 9V-SPP, the Star Alliance 747

I was glad that I caught another special livery – SQ 747-400 operating as flight 11 to NRT, then SIN. Look at how big this is compared to the EM2 to the left.

I love shots like this that compare two planes from the opposite ends of the spectrum.

And while I was at the park watching this special 747, an EK 772LR was landing! So I sprinted out towards the sidewalk, but I still got quite an undershot from this cool beast:

Operating as flight 215 from DXB

Turning to runway 24L

I really wanted shots of this plane.

While this plane was roaring down 24L, I missed an AA MD-80 landing on runway 24R, which is also uncommon since AA’s terminal is again, on the 25 side. After that, I went back to my spot on the In N Out table across the street.

Cool shot of it landing nonetheless – operating as flight 2431 from DFW.

I was real happy with this shot! This 77W is operating as flight 12 from TPE.

N525AS operating flight 562 from PDX

N767AS – an AS 737-400… this picture and the one above really allows you to compare the two’s different wings!

United Express CRJ-200 in the old colors, reg. N939SW

AF 77W operating flight 66 from CDG

Here’s the same plane taxiing to Terminal 2 – traffic was really starting to die down, so I went back to the park to watch this plane.

FedEx MD-11 taking off of 25R

N268WN back on the In N Out side of the road

I was also very happy with this shot – N323AS and I have a history together. I’ve spotted this plane two other times already, once here at LAX, and the other last time in ONT.

Arrivals again were dropping off so I took this shot of our base:

Y4 A319 to TLC as flight 917

Y4 likes to name their planes with Spanish names, Pedro, Rafael, Christian, Melisa…

Arizona One departing for runway 24L

DL 757 – could be headed to SLC, LIH, JFK, or DTW, since all those flights are scheduled to leave within a 30 minute block and they are all on 757-200s.

Terminal 1 with plenty of WN as usual

United Express CR2

VX A320 operating as flight 928 from SFO

N434QX operating as flight 2187 from Mammoth Lakes

N229WN – I would later see this plane as we walked back to LAX

My last Air Canada E90 for this trip

Landing on runway 24R

At this point, arrivals really dropped off a lot. There was another spotter who had come just for lunch and he had a scanner to listen to the traffic, but no camera. He sat in one of the tables near where I was, so I could hear his scanner, and it was a little quiet, and most action was on the 25 side. We had been waiting at least 15 minutes between flights, whereas earlier we had been waiting 5 minutes at the max. Reed now wanted to get going for our flight, since we had to walk back to Terminal 3 instead of taking the shuttle. On the other hand, I was having such a great time that I didn’t want to leave. I used my phone to check flightaware, and there was a F9 A319 coming in from DEN, so I told him that we will leave after that plane comes. Fortunately, right after I said that, we saw the A319’s lights far out to the east. About 2 minutes later, it was here:

A good picture to end on a high note

And there it goes…

Now we started leaving In N Out for Terminal 3 after spotting from about 11:00 to 3:30. I really did not want to go back to Washington! SO I had to get some last pictures:

This sign was in the park

And this was on the other side

And also while we were leaving, this plane flew overhead, but it was just another WN 737:

Cool shot, would have been nicer if I got the left winglet in it too

Over the runway centerline lights

A KE 772 from ICN as flight 61

Too bad we weren’t still at In N Out, but after this plane, arrivals were pretty much now non-existent on this side of the airport.

I wanted a picture of the signs

…And that concludes my spotting at In N Out! With the way we went from spotting at In N Out to immediately leaving for, and then arriving at the airport, I really don’t know a good place to break it except here. I had never really been spotting like this before, and it was really fun! I could compare it to the same thrills and enjoyment as going to Disneyland, or Six Flags, or any other place non-aviation enthusiasts would consider fun. After all, when I told everyone who was not in the aviation program about this trip, they definitely thought it sounded boring. However, if you are an aviation enthusiast, you’d likely love it too. LAX is also definitely one of the best places in America to go spotting, because you have such diversity, many wide bodies, and a great place to take pictures where the runway threshold is less than 1,000 feet away. Best of all, that place is In N Out, and you have great food across a small street whenever you’re hungry. This makes this a great California experience. We’ve had so much fun, that we have decided to make this an annual trip, provided that airfare is at a good price like it was when we booked it.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 12/24/2010 11:46AM by bluewhale. (view changes)
Re: Spotting at LAX (again, quite long)
December 24, 2010 07:13AM
I got your safety cards today in the mail after work. Awesome

And the various LAX signs around the airport – taken on Century Blvd.
I remember driving by that when I went to San Diego, but I was so exhausted that day because it was an early flight and I didn't sleep, so I was rather disoriented.

This would be even more realized when we got our room:
And pictures can never do those views any justice. I know the Marriott in San Francisco has spectacular views but you just can't tell in pictures. As it is in yours, they already look awesome, which leads me to believe it's nothing short of perfect!

it seemed like some of the AA MD-80s that were departing were almost as loud as some of the 747-400s!
They're pretty loud. DC-9's are even louder. You would never think those two airplanes would be close, but they are.

Internet was at a premium, as it costs $12.95 for 24 hours, or $5.95 for an hour of use
It's an unfortunate byproduct of staying in a nice hotel. Sometimes I buy it. Sometimes I don't. It kind of depends on how I feel and if there's something at home I might need to tend to.

Operating as flight 797 from YUL
I know it's not, but that really looks like an A318.

A 4x4 animal style with in theory, extra pickles hiding behind the tomatoes. Biggest In N Out burger I’ve had to date, and it was so large that I could not get the whole thing in my mouth at first.
Oh man, I feel like a 4x4 might be in my future the next time I visit the West Coast

an AM 73G in their old, but really cool paint scheme. No idea why they had to change it because I, as well as many others on a.net, think it’s a great livery
It's classy and simple, though I like the new livery quite a lot also.

DL 757 – could be headed to SLC, LIH, JFK, or DTW, since all those flights are scheduled to leave within a 30 minute block and they are all on 757-200s.
Depending on the time of day it could also be to ATL. I know they also fly some flights with a 763 and maybe a 772? Their new website drives me nuts, and I lack the motivation to look.

Proud Member Since 2003

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 12/24/2010 07:18AM by N776AU. (view changes)
Re: Spotting at LAX (again, quite long)
December 24, 2010 11:58AM

which leads me to believe it's nothing short of perfect!
Yes, it was definitely an aviation spotter's room! I could not have possibly gotten anything better!


really looks like an A318.
It kind of looked like that to me too if you one has an untrained eye, because I had the zoom out so much. Reed, who has the huge zoom lense on his camera, took a picture of it 2 miles away to see what it was, and he thought it was a 757 for some reason (he doesn't know stuff as well) so I was anticipating a much larger plane.


I like the new livery quite a lot also.
I agree, AM's new livery is still much better than many other airline's liveries.


I know they also fly some flights with a 763 and maybe a 772? Their new website drives me nuts, and I lack the motivation to look.
I used LAX's OAG timetables to look up the flights, and that is much better than going through DL's stupid, mangled website. They have 1 on a 738, 2 on a 752, 5 on a 763, 1 on a 77L, and 1 on a 332.

Re: Spotting at LAX (again, quite long)
December 26, 2010 01:27PM

I’m not going to lie; I have no idea what kind of plane this is.
Piaggio P180 Avanti
Re: Spotting at LAX (again, quite long)
December 27, 2010 08:37AM

Piaggio P180 Avanti
Quite an interesting plane... thank you very much!

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