Santa Monica was once famous for the Douglas aircraft factory that - amongst others - produced the DC-2 through the DC-7 series of aircraft. However when the jet age arrived the city of Santa Monica refused to lengthen the runway and Douglas focussed on Long Beach. So nowadays Santa Monica is a general aviation airport receiving quite some executive traffic, especially as it is close to Beverly Hills, Belair and Santa Monica itself. On regular days it should be possible to log say two dozen bizjets and bizprops in a few hours. Light aircraft enthusiasts can also find what they look for here, as the number of small general aviation aircraft is significant at Santa Monica. Last but not least the airport seems to have kept the enthusiasts in mind as there are excellent facilities for us without anyone bothering. This makes it a quite relaxed place to hangout for a while enjoying aircraft movements.
The airport is quite small regarding the area it occupies, with a single 1500 m runway. It is completely surrounded by residential areas. Therefore the airport has one of the most stringent noise regulations of the United States. Nearly all of the airport is paved and taxiways are only distinguished from the runway and ramps by yellow lines painted on the surface...
The easiest way to travel to Santa Monica is of course by car. Pending on traffic its about a 20-30 minutes drive north from LAX, via Interstate 405, exit National Boulevard. At the end of the National Blvd you hit the airport, although at this point it is somewhat elevated.
Around the Airport
The best place at Santa Monica to be up close and personal with the action is the airport administration building. This is rather new and offers superb photo opportunities. It has a small viewing area at the right side of the building that is somewhat elevated and offering picnic tables and benches. There is even a speaker broadcasting the local ATC frequencies. You are so close to the runway that not much more than 200-250 mm is needed for a Cessna Citation. So with some heavier equipment even smaller aircraft - if that is more to your liking - are within reach. After about 3 pm the sun transits the runway centreline, so best photography is in the morning. Finally most of the aircraft parked at the other side can be read from the viewing area. At the left side of the building there is an Asian (Japanese?) restaurant with terrace, one level higher. Both locations can be accessed from outside the building. There is ample free parking in front of the administration building.
This is the most remote area from spot 1 and you need to get here for spotting the aircraft parked around this location. These cannot be read from spot 1 due to the distance (heatwaves!) and aircraft being parked in front of others. Spot 2 can be reached from spot 1 via the Airport Avenue, 23rd Street and Ocean Park Boulevard. It is at the end of 25th Street, next to some baseball fields at Clover Park. Parking is easy here in the residential area. The airport authorities have provided some telescopes here for more viewing pleasure. Photography is difficult due to the fence and back light from the sun.
Most of the Supermarine FBO ramp can be seen from spot 1, but some aircraft are hidden behind buildings and hangars. No worries, just drive to spot 3 past the FBO building where the missing aircraft can be identified. Photography is difficult here because of the position of the sun and probably nervous security staff. So a hit an run is the best you can do here.
From the viewing area of the administration building nice shots of aircraft on the runway can be made. (Leo Hoogerbrugge)
|Tower||120.100 / 257.800|
|SoCal Approach||124.300 / 124.900|
|SoCal Approach||125.200 / 128.500|
|Trans-Exec Air Service||G-III, G-IV, G-V, G550|
|multiple||at Museum of Flying, just south of Airport Ave, close to spot 1|
|Edwards AFB   subscribers only|
|El Centro NAF   subscribers only|
|Fresno Yosemite Intl|
|Hemet - Ryan Field   subscribers only|
|Imperial Beach NOLF|
|Lemoore NAS - Reeves Field   subscribers only|
|Moffett Federal Airfield|
|Palmdale Regional - Air Force Plant 42|
|Point Mugu NAS   subscribers only|
|Sacramento - Mather|
|San Francisco - Intl   subscribers only|
|Santa Monica - Municipal|