Monday, May 27, 2013

Up, up and away!

 If you're looking for a special getaway, with wide open spaces and a view that's rare in Los Angeles, why not go to the airport?

Santa Monica Municipal Airport began as the home of Douglas Aircraft. Today, it accommodates small planes and private jets. 

An open air viewing deck at the Airport Administration Building lets you watch the planes land and take off.  If you want refreshments, the Typhoon Restaurant on the second floor serves a Pan-Asian menu, with dim sum, noodles, and specialties from the Philippines to Szechuan. For those with more adventurous palates, sample the exotic Singapore scorpions, Taiwanese crickets, frog legs or silkworms. If you need a drink after contemplating that, don't worry - there's a full bar, and a Happy Hour to go along with the airborne entertainment. You can watch from the wide glass windows, or you can take your drink upstairs to the deck.

I forgot the sunscreen - look how red I am!
The view to the east takes in the Santa Monica Mountains and the skyscrapers of Century City. You can watch the planes bank around and approach the eastern end of the runway as they land.

To the west, you can see all the way to the ocean.

It's a great place to hang out and watch the airplanes. As we sat, we were joined by a woman who lives in the neighborhood who said she's been coming here since she was a child. A little while later, a family came with three kids, confirming that the entertainment power of airplanes still attracts. A couple on a date climbed up the stairs from the bar, and we overheard with amusement as he tried to impress her with his aeronautical knowledge.

The airport property is owned by the City of Santa Monica, and, typical of municipal politics in that town, it's been a point of rancorous contention between competing interest groups for decades.

Resident complaints vs. the rights of businesses, and a wrestling match between the City and the FAA spurred countless lawsuits, studies, and Economic Development Plans. The City has been pushing alternate use plans to buffer the impact on neighborhoods, including a new park, a Museum of Flying, and converting older buildings to artists' studios. The end may be near -  a 1984 agreement with the FAA may allow the City to stop aviation use of the airport in 2015.

But why worry about that now? Come to the airport and enjoy the view. Under a clear blue sky, on a sunny day, it's a great way to pass the time - but you better bring your sunscreen.


Anonymous said...

I haven't eaten there in such a long time! thanks for the reminder

smalltownme said...

And earplugs, perhaps?

Karen (formerly kcinnova) said...

I would have never dreamed there was such a place to go! As a child, I loved trips to the airport (mostly to ride the train system at SeaTac, which didn't rely on sunny weather) but what a great place for a date!

Glennis said...

You know, Heidi, it's actually shocking how much of a difference there is between the noise from the small prop planes and the noise from the small jets. No wonder the neighbors have been up in arms since the era of the small private jet began!

The small planes don't bother you at all on the view deck. The jets really command your attention when they are oriented the right way - really makes you think what it'd be like to have one pointed at your bedroom window.