Best shuttle viewing spot in LA?
September 18, 2012 5:45 PM   Subscribe

Where should I try to see the shuttle fly over Los Angeles on Friday morning?

Detail on exactly where the shuttle will be visible from, is sketchy. The latest I have found today says "Once the shuttle reaches the Los Angeles area about 10:30 a.m., the orbiter will be carried over landmarks including the Getty Center, the Griffith Observatory, Malibu and Disneyland before landing at Los Angeles International Airport.". Previously it was scheduled to land at LAX at 11am. So I guess I have a 30 minute window to be somewhere to watch it. Disneyland and Griffith Observatory are too far from where I work (Santa Monica). I'm considering driving to the LAX area, and finding a tall parking structure with rooftop parking.

A friend suggested a parking lot he knows over on the south side of LAX, just after the sepulveda tunnel. If the shuttle is going to land on the northern runways though, this is quite far away. I was thinking of going into the airport and parking at the lot opposite the Tom Bradley tunnel, so we are in the middle of the airport, and can theoretically see both runways with ease. Google maps suggests that lot has rooftop parking, but I don't know if its tall enough to see the runways.

Any mefites been on top of the Tom Bradley parking lot, and know if you can see all the runways? Any really sweet plane-spotter spots I don't know of, that would hypothetically give a great view of the shuttle when it is on approach? Do planes always approach from inland to land, or does it depend on wind direction or something? Any other great suggestions on where to hang out Friday morning?
posted by Joh to Grab Bag (8 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Allegedly a great plane spotting location is the parking lot of the In and Out just north of the airport. I think it's on Sepulveda. I haven't been there personally but friends say you can see a lot from there.
posted by BlahLaLa at 6:15 PM on September 18, 2012

How about Encounter (auto-playing music)? Or would that be packed/too difficult?
posted by carsonb at 6:33 PM on September 18, 2012

I've seen some sites that say it will land on the southmost runway. (e.g.)
Not sure how credible this is.
posted by kidbritish at 7:40 PM on September 18, 2012

According to the LAT

The Anaheim park (sic: Disneyland) is one of several Los Angeles-area landmarks that space shuttle Endeavour will fly over before landing Friday morning at Los Angeles International Airport, according to NASA. Also on deck: the Getty Center, Griffith Observatory and the California Science Center, the retired orbiter's new permanent home.
posted by Ideefixe at 7:50 PM on September 18, 2012

I don't know much of LA, but based on the shuttle Discovery flyover and landing at Dulles outside Washington DC back in April:

An airport location sounds good, but for safety reasons, the actual landing might not be visible --- when the Discovery landed at Dulles, they did it on a somewhat hidden-from-view runway, and made sure to have NOTHING but support and emergency personnel anywhere near. Aim for seeing it fly over you, instead.

Assume that nearby parking decks, parks and other good viewing spots will be popular with LOTS of people, and expect a lot of traffic from other shuttle watchers --- people will be getting into viewing positions HOURS ahead of time. If I recall, don't a couple of the LA airport runways end very close to some major streets? If so, there's a very good possibility that there will be street closures, both before and for a period after the landing.

Your 30-minute window really isn't very practical; besides traffic, you've also got to remember that just because they SAY the shuttle will fly over at 10:30am, does not mean it will ACTUALLY fly over then: they told us 10am for the Discovery flyover, but it was actually around 11:30am. And watch the weather: if the weather is at all unfavorable (and that includes ANY fog or precipitation, including extremely light drizzle!) they will not fly that day. NASA has picked a day that, based on LA weather history, will be clear and dry, but of course that's no guarentee.
posted by easily confused at 6:14 AM on September 19, 2012

I also saw that it would land on the southernmost runway (this is the longest one, so that makes sense). I'd be interested in knowing about that parking garage your friend mentioned, if you're willing to share -- I'll be going to, and that honestly sounds like the best bet. My current plan is to park in the houses south of the airport, and then walk to a parkbench I know on a berm overlooking the runway (after the 105 turns into a regular street). I'm bringing a lawn chair, since as some stated, other people will have the same idea.

Other ideas are the Proud Bird restaurant, which takes reservations for weekend brunch, don't know if they are normally open that time of day -- but you'd need a window seat (or hang out in the yard). Maybe they are having a viewing event, I might call them.

I don't think you can see the runways from the parking garages - the terminals are about the same height as the parking garages, so they would be in the way.

As for street closures, don't know. If there are, then Sepulveda tunnel is a good bet to close, but I don't see them closing too much else just for the landing, in the middle of the day on a week day, without a bunch of publicity about it. LA is pretty good about that.
posted by bluesky78987 at 8:48 AM on September 19, 2012

Updared info, 11:40 fly overs in LA area
posted by silsurf at 10:26 AM on September 21, 2012

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