Santa Monica Airport

Although it’s hard to believe, there really is a general aviation airport right in the center of Los Angeles, in Santa Monica to be exact.

Santa Monica Municipal Airport (KSMO) is a general aviation airport located in Santa Monica, California. It serves as an alternative for smaller aircraft and is situated just 6 miles north of Los Angeles International Airport. The airport diagram shows two runways, with the longest measuring 5,000 feet in length.

Other nearby general aviation airports include Whiteman Airport and Douglas Airport. However, Santa Monica Municipal Airport has been a source of controversy in recent years due to its location and land use, see below.

The air traffic at Santa Monica Municipal Airport consists mainly of private planes and helicopters. It provides an essential service for those who need quick access to Los Angeles or other destinations in Southern California.

In the terminal building, you will find one of the best airport restaurants in California, the Typhoon, serving mostly Asian cuisine. If you’re planning to eat there on the weekend it’s best to reserve a table beforehand. On the opposite side of the road from the terminal building, there’s a second restaurant called the Spitfire Grill. This is a great place to have breakfast. Right next door to this restaurant is the Museum of Flying, a place that’s really worth a visit.

Early history of Santa Monica Municipal Airport

During its more than a century of existence, Santa Monica Municipal Airport (formerly known as Clover Field) has played an important role in the history of aviation. Established in 1917 as the first airport in Los Angeles County, it quickly became a hub for aviation enthusiasts and professionals alike. In this section, we will take a closer look at the early history of Santa Monica Municipal Airport and explore how it evolved over time.

Training Ground for Pilots

During World War I and II, Santa Monica Municipal Airport served as a training ground for pilots with the Army Air Corps and Navy utilizing the facility. The airport’s strategic location on the coast made it an ideal spot for training exercises that simulated real-world scenarios. Pilots would practice takeoffs and landings on short runways while also learning how to navigate through challenging weather conditions.

Hollywood Celebrities

The airport was also a popular destination for Hollywood celebrities during the 1920s and 1930s. Many stars owned their own planes and used the airport as a convenient means of travel. Some notable names included Howard Hughes, Amelia Earhart, Clark Gable, and Jimmy Doolittle. These celebrities helped to raise awareness about aviation and inspire others to pursue careers in this field.

Controversy Over Noise Pollution

During the 1960s and 1970s, Santa Monica Municipal Airport faced controversy over noise pollution and safety concerns. Residents living near the airport complained about excessive noise levels caused by aircraft taking off and landing at all hours of the day and night. This led to increased regulations and restrictions on flight operations, including limits on the number of flights allowed per day.

Despite these challenges, Santa Monica Municipal Airport remains an important part of aviation history. It continues to serve as a hub for private and corporate aircraft, providing essential services such as fueling, maintenance, and repair. The airport also hosts numerous events throughout the year, including air shows, fly-ins, and educational programs for aspiring pilots.

Due to the complicated airspace structure, it’s always advisable to obtain flight following for landing at Santa Monica. Pilots approaching from the south can take the Mini Route directly across the threshold of LAX’s runway 25. For detailed information about the VFR routes through LAX’s airspace, please consult the Los Angeles TAC. Make sure you also comply with the noise abatement regulations governing take-offs. You will need to pay a landing fee to use this airport.

World War II history of Santa Monica Municipal Airport

Santa Monica Municipal Airport played a significant role during World War II as a major aircraft manufacturing center. The Douglas Aircraft Company, which later became McDonnell Douglas, produced over 10,000 aircraft at the airport during the war. These included military planes such as the C-47 Skytrain and A-20 Havoc, as well as civilian airliners like the DC-3 and DC-4.

The airport was also used as a training base for pilots and aircrews, including the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASPs). The WASPs were a group of female pilots who flew non-combat missions during the war, freeing up male pilots for combat duty. They were stationed at Santa Monica Municipal Airport from 1943 to 1944 and trained on various types of aircraft.

In 1942, the Army Air Corps took over the airport for military use and built additional facilities, including barracks and hangars. This allowed for increased production of aircraft and more efficient training of personnel. The airport’s location near Los Angeles also made it an ideal spot for testing new planes and technologies.

Despite its importance to the war effort, Santa Monica Municipal Airport was not immune to danger. In February 1942, just two months after Pearl Harbor was attacked by Japanese forces, Santa Monica was targeted in a bombing raid by enemy submarines. The subs launched seaplanes that dropped incendiary bombs near the airport but caused no damage or casualties.

After the war ended in 1945, Santa Monica Municipal Airport returned to civilian use but continued to be an important hub for aviation in Southern California. Many of its wartime facilities were repurposed for commercial use or demolished altogether. However, some historic buildings remain standing today as reminders of the airport’s wartime past.

One such building is Hangar One, which was built in 1928 and served as a production facility during World War II. It is now a designated landmark and houses a variety of aviation-related businesses. Another notable structure is the Control Tower, which was built in 1941 and used by military personnel during the war. It has since been restored and is now open to the public as a museum.

In addition to these buildings, Santa Monica Municipal Airport also has several plaques and memorials dedicated to its wartime history. One such memorial is located near the airport’s entrance and honors the WASPs who trained there during World War II. Another plaque is located on the side of Hangar One and commemorates the building’s use as an aircraft production facility during the war.


Post-World War II history of Santa Monica Municipal Airport

The post-war era saw a surge in activity at Santa Monica Municipal Airport as commercial aviation began to take off. The airport became an important hub for general aviation and served as a gateway to Southern California for many travelers. However, this growth was not without its challenges.

One of the biggest issues facing Santa Monica Municipal Airport during this time was opposition from local residents who were concerned about noise pollution and safety issues. Many residents felt that the airport was too close to residential areas and that the noise from planes taking off and landing was disruptive to their daily lives.

In response to these concerns, the city of Santa Monica implemented several measures aimed at reducing noise levels around the airport. These included restrictions on flight paths and operating hours, as well as requirements for quieter aircraft engines.

Despite these efforts, opposition to Santa Monica Municipal Airport continued throughout the post-war era. In 1973, a group of residents formed an organization called Concerned Residents Against Airport Pollution (CRAAP) in an effort to shut down the airport altogether.

Their efforts were unsuccessful, however, and today Santa Monica Municipal Airport remains an important part of Southern California’s transportation infrastructure. The airport serves as a hub for general aviation and is home to several businesses that provide services such as aircraft maintenance and repair.

Santa Monica Municipal Airport is an important part of the city’s history. Its role in World War II and its contributions to the growth of commercial aviation in Southern California make it a significant landmark. The airport’s legacy will continue to be remembered and celebrated by residents and visitors alike for years to come.


FAA and stakeholders’ response to city’s leasing policy changes at Santa Monica Airport

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) expressed concerns over the city’s leasing policy changes at Santa Monica Airport. The agency argued that the new policies could have a negative impact on safety and efficiency at the airport. Under the new rules, the city planned to lease out more of its land around the airport for non-aviation purposes, which would reduce space available for aviation services.

City officials faced opposition from pilots association and aviation services regarding the policy changes. They argued that reducing available space would lead to overcrowding, making it difficult for aircraft to take off and land safely. The reduction in space would also limit access to essential facilities like hangars and maintenance areas.

The aircraft operations faced limitations due to the city council’s decision to reduce the length of the runway. The move was aimed at reducing noise levels in surrounding neighborhoods, but it also meant that larger planes could no longer use the airport. This led some airlines to pull out of Santa Monica altogether, further limiting options for travelers.

Residents’ complaints about noise led to the implementation of noise abatement procedures at the airport. These included restrictions on nighttime flights and limitations on certain types of aircraft during certain times of day. While these measures helped reduce noise levels somewhat, they also made it more difficult for aviation businesses to operate profitably.

The city council’s decision to close the airport and repurpose the land was met with mixed reactions from stakeholders. Some residents welcomed this move as a way to reduce noise pollution in their neighborhoods while others lamented losing an important transportation hub. Aviation businesses were particularly hard hit by this decision as they had invested significant resources into operating at Santa Monica Airport.

The field’s historical significance as an aviation hub was a point of contention in the debate over its future. Supporters argued that preserving this history was important while opponents claimed that progress required moving past outdated infrastructure. Ultimately, the city council decided to close the airport and repurpose the land for other uses.