Reader and aircraft photographer Chris Hall has sent this trip report in from his recent visit to take in some spotting at Van Nuys Airport. All of the pictures are his own.
Here’s a handy map to help you work out the layout of the roads around the airport.
We started by driving to the 94th Aero Squadron Restaurant which is on Raymer Street in the north east corner of the airport. This seemed like a logical starting and finishing point as it meant we could do a clockwise circuit of the field, making right turns all the way. We got there at about 9am to find that the restaurant doesn’t open until 11am – not a problem as this meant that we could get some lunch at the end of our circuit. The restaurant has large windows giving clear views across the runways and all traffic taxiing for take off or landing on 16L/R can be seen easily from either inside the restaurant or the shaded garden area outside. A couple of Skycrane helicopters were also visible on the west side of the field.
The restaurant car park is adjacent to the CL-415 water bombers, four of which could be seen and read off easily through a gate. Views can be had from here of some of the biz jets and across the runways.
From the restaurant, a simple plan of action would be to take every right turn and see what you can see. The next major stop would be the official public observation area. Go to the end of Waterman Drive and there is ample parking on the left. Several helicopters use an apron to the right as you approach the observation area. There are tables and chairs here as well as some shade (it was touching 80 degrees even at 10am on a November morning). The authorities have recently put two camera holes in the fence here although one of them seems to have been placed with small children in mind as it’s way too low for even a short adult like me! The other camera hole is visible in my photo. ATC is piped through a speaker.
All of the other photos, with the exception of the Boeing 727, were taken through this hole.
Next, a drive to the end of Byrd Street will reveal biz jet aprons both to the north and south. Between Byrd and Saticoy Streets there are two large hangars with doors facing Woodley Avenue although stopping is prohibited here so if there’s anything of interest, you may want to make a quick stop at the FlyAway Bus terminal’s car park to read them off, as we did.
Keep right on Saticoy which becomes Valjean Avenue. You’ll pass an opening with large gates from where I got the shot of the 727, N727AH. There is space to park here for a few minutes. From this spot, you’ll be able to read off more of the biz jets on the other side of the airfield. Further down Valjean is the Airtel Plaza Hotel. I made a point of popping in and having a word with the front desk about potential views from their rooms and was told that good views are possible from some of the west facing rooms (there are three floors) although rates can be pretty high (he quoted rack rates of approx $159 per night). Apparently there are two buildings, the second of which has rooms with balconies but, of course, at a premium – these were quoted as from approx $199. You will read off some more reg’s from the car park behind the hotel.
A right turn on Vanowen takes you across to the western side of the airport from where you work your way northwards on Hayvenhurst Avenue, turning right into Hart Street for a view across to the aprons and hangars in the south east corner and more biz which were not visible from the other side.
After Sherman Way is the entrance to Signature’s car park – views here though gates and over the fence, then make sure to take Hayvenhurst Place a one way street which passes more biz aprons on both your left and right. More biz on an apron at the very end where you can do a U-turn. Then back on to Hayvenhurst Avenue. A right on to Saticoy will bring you past the small museum which has a Clay Lacy Gulfstream 2 on display (N264CL) along with a 125, a former US Coastguard Falcon 20 and a couple of smaller prop aircraft.
After passing a row of AT-6 Texans, the road will eventually double back slightly on to Stagg Street, where a series of right turns will bring you on to Roscoe Road which runs along the northern perimeter of the field. A right after the railway lines on to Woodley puts you back where you started, at the 94th Aero Squadron Restaurant and just a couple of minutes from the entrance to the freeway.
See all of Chris’s photos on his Flickr site here https://www.flickr.com/photos/drunkenwhistler/