SpotLAX and Dorkfest are quickly approaching! I'll be there with JetTip swag a-plenty, and will be contributing JetTip smart flight alert memberships for both events' giveaways. JetTip's filterable LAX arrival/departure board will also be freely available.
I can't wait for September because LAX has some of the best aviation spotting in the country, and for many of my avgeek friends, this represents the one opportunity per year that we get to see each other "in real life."
If you've never attended an event like this before, and are interested at all in commercial aviation, I can't encourage you enough to give it a shot this year. Here's a quick outline of both events, which happen at the same time, but aren't quite the same thing.
At Dorkfest, nobody minds when conversation is briefly interrupted by the arrival of another A380.
Cranky Dorkfest LAX 2019
September 7, 2019, 11:00 AM - 1:00 PM (+ Bonus Events) - Full Details at Cranky Flier
Hosted annually by Cranky Flier's Brett Snyder, Dorkfest 2019 will be the ninth edition of the event at LAX. Held at the Airplane Landing View Point park across the street from In-N-Out Burger, you'll mingle with dozens (perhaps even hundreds) of other aviation enthusiasts, as inbound flights arrive overhead, and departure queue up ahead of you. If you're interested in meeting other folks interested in commercial aviation, there's no better event.
... and I can hear the comments about In-N-Out not being great for photography (and to be fair, it's not a great time or location for traditional, well-lit-profile shots of aircraft), but that's completely not the point.
There will be an airfield tour (space is limited; registration opens July 12 at 10:00 AM PDT), as well as an exclusive evening event (details TBD). Otherwise, no registration is required for the main lunchtime event near In-N-Out, just show up!
September 6-8, 2019 - Hosted by NYCAviation
SpotLAX, which is often held the same weekend as Dorkfest, is a longer event, based out of the H Hotel (more about that below) and a mix of ad-hoc "there's a group of us heading to location X now, if anyone wants to join," and scheduled dinner/trivia night, which will be held at the Proud Bird on Saturday, September 7, 2019, at 6:30 PM. There are rumors floating around of other events popping up - keep an eye on NYCAviation's Twitter account for additional details.
A Virgin Australia 777 arrives at LAX as a Hawaiian A330 prepares to depart; one of many great September views from the H Hotel.
H Hotel Los Angeles, Curio Collection by Hilton
Despite the ridiculously long name, the H Hotel near LAX is one of my favorite places on the planet. The view from their upper level observation deck, which is limited to hotel guests, is amazing. There are great elevated views of a large portion of LAX's operations, including nearly the entire north side, and a good amount of the south side, depending on how hard you strain your neck. Viewing certainly favors arrivals on the north side (which pass in front of you at nearly eye level), but a good amount of other activity is shootable there. I've stayed there twice, and loved it both times; if you'd like a more in-depth review, check out this piece at Airline Reporter. Here are a few samples of photos from last year's SpotLAX event from the hotel roof in September...
Fiji arriving on the north runway; In-N-Out Burger is just out of frame below and to the left.
Qatar inbound on the north runway, with Downtown Los Angeles visible (sort of) in the background.
The peak-a-boo view of traffic preparing to depart on the south runway. It's quite a distance away, and less than ideal, but, you still get to see it. Proud Bird is just out of frame to the right.
To orient yourself a little bit, the three locations mentioned here, In-N-Out, H Hotel, and Proud Bird, form a diagonal line east of the airport. Here's a photo demonstration, helpfully assisted by Air New Zealand's All-Blacks 777-300 ER.
Starting on the north end of the airport, looking southeast, the H Hotel is the blue building above and to the right of In-N-Out.
... and from the roof of the H Hotel, looking southeast, Proud Bird. Not too shabby! Note: this photo is from a June evening, the light is much less cooperative in September.
In summary, if you can swing a trip to LAX and think hanging out with a ton of other aviation enthusiasts sounds fun, please do! There were quite a few last year who made a day trip out of it on Saturday; if you have time to do a few nights at the H Hotel, even better!
See you in September!
Nick lives in Burnsville, MN with his wife and three children. He grooves on railroad and aviation photography, geography, weather, and LEGO. A freelance web developer, he started JetTip's smart flight alert service in 2017. He can frequently be found atop a step ladder at MSP's Aircraft Viewing Area.