Aircraft Spotting Pages - Los Angeles
International Airport, CA
Aerial shot provided by Google Earth with textual modifications to show the spots and the roads around LAX.
About the Spots
Spot A: This is the In-N-Out Burger located on Sepulveda Blvd in the city of Westchester. The easiest route that I can see is to take the 405 Freeway to the Sepulveda Blvd exit. Turn right (or bear right). You'll go under Runways 7R/25L and 7L/25R. Once you reach where the In-N-Out is (and it will be on your left), drive past it and make the next left (Westchester). Following that, make another left, and park in the In-N-Out parking lot. Since the In-N-Out is on private property, do not take any photos from there. In fact, I highly suggest against it because it is a popular spot for EVERYONE and can yield to be dangerous because of how popular the chain is (think vehicle movements in the parking lot). However, there is a small park just across the way where you can take pictures and video from. You'll need all of your lenses, depending on what kind of photo you're after. Traffic will come from behind that big billboard on the other side of Sepulveda and come almost overhead as they land on Runway 24R. You will even see traffic taxi out to depart on 24L. You could park on the street between the In-N-Out and the park, but it is time-limited, and I'm sure is also enforced.
The light here sucks, as you're looking into the sun for the entire time, and I'm sure this would apply for the mid- and late-afternoon. I do recommend it for how close you can get to the traffic. Also, take note that most of the traffic arriving on 24L will be airlines whose terminals will be on the north side of LAX. I do not recommend visiting before 10:30 am, but again, I'll let the locals chime on on this one. However, you can get some very dramatic photos in the evening. Photographers have also utilized this spot for some dramatic views - doing so by walking towards various parts of the park and even venturing to the sidewalk alongside Sepulveda Blvd. I recommend against this, as it will draw more suspicion and a visit by LAPD.
Finally, while you are at this spot, PLEASE GET YOUR LUNCH FROM IN-N-OUT. I can't speak if they do like or don't like you parking in their lot but to show your appreciation, get a burger. I recommend this to anyone who does not live in the southwestern US. If you're used to Burger King, McDonalds, and/or Wendy's, you will notice that In-N-Out Burger's burgers and French fries are much different. Get a double-double with fries and make sure you go animal style and get one of their signature shakes.
Spot B: The locals call this Imperial Hill and it is located in the city of El Segundo. Take the 405 and make a left onto Main and then a left onto Imperial Avenue. There is a small "park" that is located at the intersection of Imperial and Sheldon. There are some chairs, tables, and benches and it overlooks LAX. You will need some long lenses here to get any photos. It is a decent spot for video, with the only downside being a lot of noise from the highway below you. For the most part, you will see arrivals on 25L (many do turn off towards the end of the runway, but many do not, so keep that in mind) and departures on 25R. The lighting is outstanding for most of the day. Imperial Hill is located on the southern side of LAX.
Other Spots: There are about four other spots where you can shoot arrivals onto 24R and 25R. You can get touchdown shots, side-on shots, and belly shots at those locations, but at this time, I have chosen not to include those spots, since you have a much higher chance of being asked to leave by either security, management, or law enforcement.
What You'll See at LAX
The key to either spot is to know what you want to get. Get to know the terminals, especially the Tom Bradley International Terminal, so you have an idea where certain airlines have their gates. Southwest Airlines, Alaska Airlines, and US Airways utilize the Northern terminals, while Delta, United, and American use the southern terminals. I can't speak for the international carriers that use the TBIT, as I saw one specific airline arrive on the north side and then depart on the south side. There are a lot of mainline aircraft and some regional aircraft, but there are a lot of heavies - domestic and international - that utilize LAX. My one and only visit to LAX had also yielded a lot of special paint schemes.
With regards to both Spots A & B, the locals have told me this is where LAX Airport Police and the LAPD recommend you take pictures and video from. There have been few, if any, encounters with law enforcement at both spots. The spots that I have not mentioned (and I do know where these spots are, but have not visited) are the spots law enforcement DO NOT want you visiting. You can search for those spotting locations from the regular LAX photographers or on other websites. As always, carry your ID.
In-N-Out Burger. 'Nuff said.