LX 41 – From Los Angeles to Zurich in the Boeing 777 cockpit!
“My name is Dick, and I flew around the world!” – Mojave Air & Space Port
Welcome to part two of my journey on board of LX 40 and LX 41. This second part is dedicated two our layover and the subsequent flight back from Los Angeles to Zurich. Enjoy the ride.
After a relaxing evening in Long Beach and a hearty breakfast, we decided to rent out a small Cessna 172 at the local airport, namely LGB. Today’s destination: Mojave Air and Space Port (KMHV), which primarily acts as a cemetery for old short-haul and long-haul aircraft. The dry desert air and an ever shining sun offer the perfect conditions to store discarded heavy metal for future owners, or to scrap the poor birds.
In the picture below, which I have taken from aboard our Cessna 172, one can see the very same US Airways A320 model which was also used as the “set” for the Sully movie, which pictured the successful water landing in the Hudson River of US Airways Flight 1549.
The Air and Space Port not only has lots of interesting aircraft, but also has a decent snack bar with rather delicious burgers and countless props from the brothers Burt and Dick Rutan. In the 1980s, Burt designed the legendary Rutan Voyager, which his brother Dick used in 1986 to fly around the world in exactly nine days, three minutes and 44 seconds. To our great delight, an older gentleman spoke to us while we ate at the local restaurant. It was Dick himself! “Hi, my name is Dick and I flew around the world”, he said and proudly told his story.
After an exciting day of flying, the sun sets into the ocean in the West and we enjoy the sunset from above. Night falls and the light of the sun is replaced by an ocean of artificial lights that never seems to come to an end. We depart once again, in order to capture the evening view on another short flight with our Cessna from Hawthorne back to Long Beach.
We fly over the Port of Long Beach. After the port of Los Angeles, this is the largest container port in the entire United States of America. It acts as a gate way of trade between North America and Asia and creates more than 316,000 jobs.Before we commence our landing on runway 30 in Long Beach, we have a quick look at Rainbow Harbour and our crew hotel. We eventually landed and after a large dinner, we realize it’s time to relax in preparation for the upcoming day. The return flight LX 41 is imminent.
Welcome to LX 41!
As I wait for the return flight at the gate at Tom Bradley International Airport, I can already spot the crew of LX 41 inside the cockpit. Time for a photo from outside!
Contrary to the outbound flight, Patrick will be “pilot flying”, and hence fly us back to Zurich while Sales and Thierry will assist him with this task in their pilot monitoring role.
Directly after take-off of our flight LX 41, runway 24L will lead us directly over the open Pacific Ocean. After that, we will turn left, in order to fly over the city to the North-East. The briefing comes to an end and off we go. We roll past numerous wide-bodied aircraft on our way to runway 24L.
We leave American soil with a speed of approximately 320 km/h and fly towards the ocean. Blue hour began, and the sun slowly sets, until Darkness accompanies us far across the Atlantic. On the way there, we fly over Las Vegas. At this cruising altitude, we are given an incredible view of Sin City.
We continue to fly in pitch black darkness for a few more hours and I go to sleep. As I return to the cockpit, the sun over Greenland greets us with all its glory. The blue hour once again shows itself from its most stunning side.
A few more hours fly by, until we reach Europe’s mainland over France. Once again, we become aware that pilots need to actively assess the situation at all times: we are now surrounded by a few thunderstorm clouds. These are displayed on the weather radar, wich is integrated into the navigation display in gradings of green, yellow and red depending on the intensity of the precipitation inside. It is important to find a path around or between the clouds.
The weather calms down, and we enjoy a wonderful approach over Basel, and land on runway 14 in Zurich.
The weather at home is warm ans kinda similar to the weather in California. Luckily! Captain Patrick gently lands his Boeing 777-300ER on Swiss soil and taxies to the gate. Another transatlantic flight comes to an end. Actually faster than the outbound flight because of the jet streams, strong gusts of wind above the ocean, which blow from West to East at extremely high speeds. This strong tailwind results in a proper speed increase. Time for the last aircraft selfie at the gate. LX 41 heavy out!
Now it’s time to say goodbye. Farewell to a remarkable aircraft and a weekend that I will never ever forget. I was able to learn about the pilot’s profession in an amazing detail. It’s a profession that cannot be compared with anything else and, in my opinion, it is still a dream job. Thanks to Sales, Thierry and Patrick and of course SWISS for making this unique experience possible. Happy Landings! Kind regards, Aaron