Freight trains in the sky (a.k.a. Fun with Air Traffic Control)

A post for airplane nerds only…

Mountains climbing nearly to 12,000′ separate the Los Angeles basin from the Palm Springs and Joshua Tree area.  A layer of clouds between 4000′ and 6000′ covered all of the Los Angeles airports.  Thus it was necessary to proceed from Sedona into Los Angeles on an Instrument Flight Rules (IFR) clearance.  The minimum enroute altitude on the direct airway from Twentynine Palms into LA is 13,500′ due to the fact that this airway goes straight over some of the tallest peaks.  I was flying along at 14,000′, breathing bottled oxygen, and got called by ATC:  “Fly heading 230 for a train.”

I banked the airplane and looked down wondering what kind of monster freight train they might have out West that would require an airplane at 14,000′ to adjust its course.

Then I realized that perhaps the call was “Flying heading 230 for terrain.”

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Downtown Los Angeles (including the new Walt Disney Hall)

We just had a perfect day in Los Angeles, starting with a drive from Pasadena straight into the heart of downtown Los Angeles and parking underneath the magnificent new LA Cathedral (see photos at the bottom of my Alaska 2002 trip report).  From there we walked two blocks to the new stainless steel-clad Walt Disney Concert Hall and took a self-paced 1-hour audio tour.  No need to go to Bilbao, Spain anymore to see a really large all-metal Frank Gehry and the audio commentary is very interesting.  From there it is only a 1-block walk to the LA Museum of Contemporary Art, a building designed by Arata Isozaki.  After all of that minimalism and modernism it seemed natural to have lunch at … Langer’s Delicatessen (see this New Yorker article).  [Did Donald Judd eat pastrami?]

We got into a conversation with a fellow dining alone in the next booth.  He was on his way to play poker at one of the traditional California card casinos.  What does he do when not at the gaming tables?  “I live in Venice.  I’m a screenwriter.  Nothing filmed yet but I’ve got a few projects in development.”

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