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San Diego -Landing Over the Parking Structure

Adventurer B
For some reason, San Diego gets a lot of chatter about the approach over the parking structure located on the approach end of Runway 27. This structure sits literally across the street from the end of the runway. The following picture San727.jpgshows what it looks like from the ground with another jet landing after an instrument approach.  At first glance it does look like an odd place to put a multi-story building.... From the air, you can see that the building is really of no consequence to arriving airliners. Lindbergh Field is nestled right up to the edge of the foothills and everything to the east of the garage is even higher. You'd never really notice this except from the air, and in the air, only Pilots have windows that face forward (usually!). Here is a shot I took while my partner landed in San Diego. As you can clearly see, the parking garage (last building before the end of the runway) presents little, if any, threat to arriving planes. From the ground however, it looks imposing. Notice the touchdown point for the runway (the "hash marks") is well down the runway. Guess this is another example of "a picture being worth a thousand words." WebSANVMC27cockpit.jpg (click on the photos to enlarge--the photo of the landing was taken from the cockpit jumpseat)
Frequent Flyer B
Captain Ray -- Thanks for a very informative post! I agree that perspective makes a huge difference in people's perceptions of reality. I've been fortunate enough to share your front-facing view fairly regularly when flying on our company plane (not the Southwest 'Company Plane'), a Falcon 50. Our flight crew gladly welcomes passengers to join them up front in the third seat, and I can readily attest to the fact that things look quite different from the front than out the side windows of a plane. But, if you think about it, these concerns and criticisms often come from a very vocal segment of the public, which sometimes are the same people who buy a new house 4/10's of a mile from the end of a runway and then complain about the airplane noise in their neighborhood! Growing up in Dallas, I can well remember the placement of the future D/FW Airport as being out in the middle of twenty miles' worth of cow pastures with no discernible roads leading to it. The new facility opened when I was in high school, and the memory of my first trip out there is vivid because of its remoteness. Of course, now there are high dollar developments (Irving's Las Colinas next to D/FW, for example) that spring up next to airports all over the country, and then when those airports need to expand by lengthening a runway or adding a new ones, there is great hue and cry about the threat to the houses below. Even in-town airports are not exempt from these attacks. Folks in Dallas regularly point out the constant stream of planes as an argument against repealing the Wright Amendment for Love Field. As you know, SWA pilots are required to use noise abatement procedures when departing DAL because of this. Homeowners verbalize forcefully about the danger to the area from all of the planes. And yet, what is often overlooked is that Love Field has been there since 1918, and most of the people who are complaining are ones who didn't move to the area until at least fifty years after Love Field arrived. If some of these same people could see the view out the front of planes departing from El Paso's airport, they'd probably also insist that the City of El Paso move the Franklin Mountains, too! Thanks again for your always interesting and informative perspective! Kim
Explorer C
A very interesting approach. It's also quite weird how perspective is playing here: the first picture taken from the ground really has the feeling of the building being very close to the approach path of the runway, while everything changes from the air. As always: world is better viewed from up there ^_^
Explorer C
That looks neat!I think the only people that complain about airplanes and noise pollution are those who don't appreciate these neat birds. I luv it when planes fly over our house,especially Southwest.
Adventurer A
Calling ALL Photo Hounds! Does anyone have any pictures of landing near the old Hong Kong airport to post? I believe that you can post them to the BlogSouthwest Flickr website. I've seen a few, but can't remember where I found them. As always, Ray...a GREAT post! James Malone MDW FA
Explorer C
For pictures of the old Hong Kong airport (I think it's Kaitak you're referring to) go to You'll find some interesting photos of even more interesting approaches.
Adventurer A
As a San Diego resident I often wonder about that building. Thanks for showing us the view from upstairs.
Adventurer C
As one who can only look out the side windows, I must say that landing in San Diego is the best as far as looking out the window. When sitting on the right side the view of Balboa Park is stunning and as we pass over interstate five it feels like we are about ten feet above the freeway. San Diego is my absolute favorite approach by far. Do I remember correctly that once upon a time San Diego wanted to raise that parking garage, and SWA was instrumental in having the project declined?
Explorer A
Hasn't there been a lot of talk about replacing this airport? I believe it is the busiest single-runway airport in the US.
Explorer C
I'd like to see a picture of Springfield/Branson MO airport. Actually, I'd just like to see Southwest fly there. Its an up and coming airport & destination.
Explorer C
I live in San Diego, and I recommend that if you really want to get a "feel" of the approaching plans, go to the parking garage, the top floor. Rumor has it if you stand on the roof of a truck, one can touch the wheels of the plane as it's coming in for a landing! Ha! It's a beautiful sight to watch the planes land, especially Southwest, as they are so colorful from the harbor, right across from the runway. If you really want some excitement, try landing in the fog in San Diego. Last November, we were coming in for a landing, saw the runway, and then the pilot couldn't see a thing and had to pull up really really fast, and off we went to LAX. We had to be bused down to San Diego, that was an experience I will never forget. So close and yet so far from my beautiful San Diego. The best place to live and land in.
Explorer C
I am also a fellow San Diegan who has heard much of the gripe about the San Diego airport being one of the worst airports worldwide to land at because of that parking garage. It can look intimidating but I have to say that I can think of two other airports that can make a frequent flier cringe, let alone someone who doesnt fly often. How about flying into Las Vegas?? You have to fly right over a cemetary ( seen from the right side of the plane ) Yikes!! Or how about landing in Oakland?? That airport makes you feel like you're landing in the ocean and the plane needs floaties not wheels! When my husband and I land here in our beautiful city, ( we are SW frequent fliers ) we always sit on the right side and play the game of hide and seek with the garage to try and find our car parked on the roof just to make sure its still there....maybe its our warped sense of humor.
Explorer C
Gee, Traci, I guess it's that perspective thing again. I just LUV flying low over water and the approach to OAK (or, when I'm stuck flying someone else to MSP because SWA doesn't go there, to SFO) is one of my favorite things about flying. On the other hand, although I know in my head that safe landings at SAN number as the stars in the sky, my gut does *not* like landing at Lindbergh Field!
Explorer C
I first encountered that parking garage flying for SWVA and grew to dislike it. Granted, I had never flown into that airport before on the sim and I was low, not knowing about the displaced threshold, but that parking structure does bother me. I guess the solution is not to park there. Maybe they will go out of business. It is good to get a pilots perspective on it though.
Explorer C
I Fly for Southwest Virtual in flightsim and am based in San Diego. I can Fly the approach to 27 in my sleep. I'll swear the parking garage is bigger in Flight sim. Amazing pictures. SWVA 7071