Summer is unofficially here, and that can only mean that our annual #SpotLAX2021 event is right around the corner! This year, the event will be held Friday September 17 through Sunday September 19. Once again, this weekend also coincides with Cranky Flier’s annual Cranky Dorkfest on Saturday morning at 11am. Best of all, most events are FREE!
With the ongoing pandemic, there is always the chance that we may have to cancel/change events. We suggest that you book with maximum flexibility. Out of an abundance of caution, some events have not been confirmed yet but, we are working on them in accordance with CDC and local health guidelines.
What else is going on that weekend? Lots of planespotting, great food, and hanging out with other aviation enthusiasts from across the country. LAX sees a great assortment of airlines from around the world, along with some very special planes that call it home. Bring your camera and plenty of batteries because we guarantee you will have plenty to photograph. Right now, the only thing that is certain on the schedule is that we will have some great planespotting events as well as Cranky Dorkfest.
We have a limited room block available for the weekend at the H Hotel Los Angeles at LAX. Join us here to take advantage of their spectacular rooftop deck, perfect for catching that early morning or late night arrival. Or visit the H Hotel website and use code: NYC. Rooms in the block are limited so we recommend that you book sooner rather than later. The rates in the room block are good for Thursday-Sunday nights, however the hotel will extend them to the days before and after by special request. If you’re interested in extending your stay before or after the event, email us and we will put you in touch with the hotel. Also, if you’d like to upgrade your room, you can contact us about that as well.
Below are just a few of the great events we have planned. We’re also working on finalizing the details for a few others, so be sure to check back here.
Arrival and Evening planespotting
For early arrivals, the Flight Path Learning Center and Museum at LAX is open from 10am-3pm.
11am: Cranky Dorkfest at In N’ Out Burger. Join other aviation enthusiasts to, as host Brett Snyder puts it, eat burgers, watch airplanes, and talk shop. There will also be a raffle.
2pm: Planespotting at a location TBD
6:30pm: Evening event TBD based on safety protocols
8am: Doughnuts on the Deck—If you’re staying at the H Hotel, come join us for breakfast and planespotting. Bring your camera and we will supply the coffee and doughnuts!
Other LA Attractions
If you want to get away from LAX for a bit, there are tons of aviation themed activities within driving distance of LAX. Here are a few suggestions:
If you want to venture further from LA, there are some awesome destinations in the desert surrounding LA:
- The March Field Air Museum is located about 90 minutes west of LAX and offers an extensive collection of military aircraft on display. They also have bleachers for planespotting set up in the shade of a Boeing KC-97L Stratofreighter’s wing! It is open Tuesday through Sunday (closed Monday) from 9am to 5 pm.
- The Joe Davies Heritage Airpark in Palmdale has a collection of military and civilian aircraft near the famed Air Force Plant 42 and Lockheed Skunkworks. Located about 70 miles north of LAX, drive time ranges from 75-135 minutes depending on traffic. At this time, it is only open on Saturdays and Sundays from 9am to 1pm. The adjacent Blackbird Airpark is also open, following its neighbor’s schedule. It is the only place where you can see a Lockheed A-12 Oxcart and SR-71 Blackbird side by side, along with a U2 and a D-21 reconnaissance drone.
LAX is obviously a large airport, so even if you aren’t leaving the vicinity you’ll still want a plan for how you’ll get around. Rental cars are the most convenient option. However, rental costs are unusually high this year. Additionally, you can expect to pay for parking at nearly all hotels in the area including the H Hotel. Ridesharing services are another good option that many attendees have used in the past. Public transportation options around LAX are quite limited, so relying on the bus might take much longer than you want to spend and involve a long walk.
This event is open to planespotters and aviation enthusiasts of all experience levels. If you’re just getting into the hobby, or want to improve your skills, this is a great time to learn techniques from more experienced spotters. Bring whatever equipment you have, from a smartphone to a professional camera. With that being said, here are some recommendations on what will give you the best experience:
- A DSLR or mirrorless camera body with a telephoto zoom lens that goes to at least 200mm (35mm film equivalent) along with a standard zoom lens. Or,
- A “point and shoot” or “superzoom” camera with at least an 8x optical zoom. There are plenty of options in this category from Canon, Nikon, Sony, and many other manufacturers, including some for under $200.
- LAX is very photogenic after dark. To take advantage, you’ll want a sturdy tripod to mount your camera on at night. If your camera is capable of remote shutter release, you’ll want a wired or wireless remote as well.
Before arriving in LA, we recommend you familiarize yourself with our LAX Planespotting Guide. At certain times during the weekend, we may have pre-planned meetup spots. For those, check back here the week of the event. At other times, smaller groups will form and you’ll be able to choose which location you’d like to utilize. However, since specific aircraft movements can dictate which spots we use, these spots may be subject to change. Be sure to follow us on Twitter and Instagram for all of our latest location and event updates. Please use the hashtag #SpotLAX2021 if you’re posting from the event so attendees can find one another on social media.
We will continue to update this post in the coming weeks with any additional information as well as safety precautions for the event. As restrictions are lifted in California, this is a rapidly changing environment.
Remember to use the hashtag #SpotLAX2021, get vaccinated, and we will see you in September!
(Top image by Stephanie Gehman)