December 01, 2013

Photo Essay: Long Beach Airport's 90th Anniversary Fly-In

There are plenty of places around Southern California to go look at planes that have been grounded, but usually they're of a historic, military variety. Though many of those planes were experimental at the time (to the peril of some test pilots), there's a whole community of private plane ownership that you usually don't get to meet: aircraft aficionados who build their own experimental planes out of kits, fly them around, and rent them out for recreation and air tourism. Their aircraft range from small planes to biplanes to helicopters and even amphibious seaplanes.

In celebration of its 90th Anniversary, Long Beach Airport opened its gates so planespotters like me could meet some of these private plane owners (including some of the more non-military, municipal variety, like the Sheriff and Police) and get up close (and, in some cases, inside) to their flying machines.

Amazingly, we were set up right next to the runway...

...only a flimsy barricade separating us...

...from commercial jets taking off and landing (and some private and possibly experimental planes doing some loop-de-loos).

Amongst the more utilitarian vessels...

...bearing the branding of their jurisdiction or agency...

...were the sleek, stylized, often homebuilt aircraft...

...primarily designed for sport pilots.

Others were single engine, fixed gear planes for private flight...

...which hold a few passengers and can actually travel a few hundred miles in a few hours... about half the altitude of a commercial airliner.

Despite the modern nature of many of the new planes featured, there was also plenty of history to explore, with older planes like the Catalina Flying Boats' DC-3 which was built in 1945 and is still in cargo service.

It can be chartered to carry up to 7500 pounds of freight.

It was cool to be on an actual runway...

...and get up close and personal with so many planes you would probably never otherwise see... the air or on land.

More photos:

Personally I would have also liked to have seen some behind the scenes of the airport itself (having flown in and out of there a few times, and having missed the Van Nuys Airport open house earlier this year) but the planes themselves provided a nice opportunity to fantasize about how I might see more of this world...from a cockpit.

Related Posts:
Photo Essay: Planespotting at Santa Monica Airport
Photo Essay: The Planes of LAX's Flight Path Learning Center Museum

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