Torrance – Zamperini Field: KTOA

Zamperini Field, like many of the other Southern California airports, was built and used by the United States Army Airforce during World War Two. It was completed on March 31st, 1943 and was formally known as Lomita Flight Strip until it was closed at the end of World War Two. The airstrip was turned over to the local government and the name was changed to  Torrance Municipal Airport and then to Zaperini Field in honor of Louis Zamperini, a well-known athlete, war hero, and subject of the movie “Unbroken.”

The flight from Hemet Ryan to Zamperini Field takes you through the various complex and busy airspace of southern California. A quick glance at the Los Angeles Sectional chart below demonstrates what I mean.

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There are a couple resources and systems in place that actually make this flight relatively easy. First, the airspaces on this route are set up in a manor that provide an east/west corridor that could be flown without any clearance. Using a Terminal Aeronautical Chart (below) highlights these corridors much more clearly than the Sectional charts do. While this flight could be conducted without entering controlled airspace (except the destination), it is much easier and safer to fly this route using VFR Flight Following. Contacting SOCAL Approach provides traffic advisories and clearance through all airspaces in route.

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Landing KTOA

Longer video with SOCAL Approach audio.

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Lone Pine: O26

Lone Pine airport is located in the Owens Valley on the eastern side of the Sierra Nevada mountain range. Like many airports, Lone Pine was used as a contract flying school by the United States Air Force to train pilots from 1942 to 1944.  The airport sits at an elevation of 3,680 with two runways. The longer primary runway 16/34 is asphalt while the shorter 13/31 is dirt. Some points of interest of Lone Pine are the Alabama Hills and the Mount Whitney Portal. The Alabama hills host a series of unique hills and rock formations and since the 1920’s 150 movies have been filmed here. Mount Whitney is the highest summit in the contiguous United States at 14,505ft.

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Lone Pine O26

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Abandoned Manzanar airport

Independance: 2O7

For this flight, I rented a 180hp Cessna 172 from Black Mountain Air Service and departed from Bishop (KBIH) to Independence (2O7). Independence airport is located in the Owens Valley boarder by the Sierra Nevada Mountains to the west and Inyo and White Mountains to the east. The Owens Valley is one of the deepest valleys in the United States with a floor elevation of 3,556ft  with neighboring peaks reaching above 14,000ft on both sides. The tallest peak in the contiguous United States is Mount Whitney to the west at 14,505ft. Independence is one of three airports in the Owens Valley. Bishop to the north and Lone Pine to the southern being the other two. Like many other airports it was built during World War Two to help train pilots from a flight school in Lone. Pine. The airport is located along Highway 395 at an elevation of 3908ft. There are two runways 14/32 and 05/23. Runway 14/32 is the primary runway as 05/23 is restricted to use only during extreme crosswind conditions.

KBIH-2O7

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Hawthorne: KHHR

Hawthorne Municipal Airport is also Jack Northrop Field. Jack Northrop, the founder of Northrop Aircraft Corporation built a number of different aircraft such as the P-61 Black Widow, F-89 Scorpion, F-5 Freedom Fighter, and the T-38 Talon. Hawthorne was built during World War II and used to modify and transport aircraft to various units. Hawthorne airport is a tower controlled located in class D airspace and approximately 4 nautical miles to the East of Los Angeles International.  There is a lot of controlled airspace on this flight but navigating it all is made easy by receiving VFR flight following from SoCal approach.

KHHR

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Los Angeles and KHHR on Downwind Departure

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Long Beach and Catalina Island In The Distance

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Compton: KCMP

Compton Airport is unique in that its a non controlled tower airport with parallel runways. Both 07/25 L and 07/25R are 3322ft long which is relatively short compared other airports but contain very long thresholds that can be used for takeoffs but not landings. Compton Airport is located in the middle of very busy airspace but contacting SoCal approach for VFR flight following makes the airspace clearance and navigation easy.

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Brawley Municipal: KBWC

Brawley Municipal Airport is located in the Imperial Valley south of the Salton Sea at an elevation of -128ft msl. Other than being surrounded by numerous agricultural fields, military restricted airspace and military operation area airspace there isn’t much at this airport. Brawley airport appears to be a major hub for the agricultural spray operation in the area as there were a number of Piper PA-25 Pawnee aircraft on the tarmac.

KBWC

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Cliff Hatfield Memorial: KCLR

Cliff Hatfield Memorial Airport is located in Calipatria, a city about 5 miles from the south east shore of the Salton Sea. Hatfield airport is located in the Imperial Valley, large desert land that borders Mexico. Despite being a desert, this regions economy heavily depends on agriculture.  Hatfield is rather unique in that it’s field elevation is below sea level at -128 MSL.  There are no facilities on the field and it pretty much seems abandoned. According Airnav.com statistics in 2013 the airport averaged 29 transient aircraft a week. So I gave it a try!

KHMT - KCLR

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