Santa Ana winds tracking out of the northeast make for interesting takeoffs and landings at Santa Monica Airport (KSMO) in Southern California. Prevailing winds there are normally out of the southwest, so Runway 21 is almost always in use. Runway 3 is rarely used.
One winter day, the Santa Anas came howling down into the LA Basin from the north, somewhere in the 340° to 355° range. Not just straight-line winds either — big gusts that kept pilots on the ground grounded.
It was dangerous. All of us in the FBO knew it the moment we saw a Learjet go around, twice. My commercial instructor flying a Cessna 172 still needed to land, though, due to low fuel. [Read more…]