Sacramento Flight and LAX Plane Spotting

To maintain my status with Delta, I like to plan creative routes when traveling. For my trip to Sacramento this week, I opted to fly from Raleigh to Atlanta, Atlanta to Los Angeles, and Los Angeles to Sacramento (instead of to Salt Lake, and from there directly, for example… or directly from Atlanta… or many other options).

737-900 First Class

My first flight of the day was on one of Delta’s 737-900s. Though the seats are quite comfortable, and the in-flight entertainment console is crisp, the air-flow in the cabin is horrendous. Older 757s and even 717s have much more directed air pressure, allowing you to remain cooler. Extremely important when you’re in the South!

First Class on a 737-900
First Class on a 737-900
737-900 In-Flight Entertainment
737-900 In-Flight Entertainment
Outlets, outlets everywhere!
Outlets, outlets everywhere!

757-200 Thrust Reversal

My second flight, the longest leg, was on a 757-200. Unfortunately I didn’t get upgraded on this leg (I didn’t really expect to, since I was flying out of Atlanta). The nice thing about this was my seat was immediately in front of the engine. This allowed me to capture the thrust-reversal upon landing in LAX!

All 757-200s use one of two engines (one of which has two variants):

According to the Delta Museum, and using FlightRadar24 to cross-check the tail-number based on flight number, I confirmed that my 757-200 was using the PW2037.

Now for some background on thrust reversal! The purpose of thrust reversal is to take some of the engine’s thrust and direct it forward instead of backwards. This allows for shorter landing distances, less wear on brakes, and make for an all around safer flying experience. If you listen after landing, you will hear a loud woosh – that is the thrust reversal process. The Wikipedia article above identifies three types of thrust reversal mechanisms available for jet engines:

  • Target
  • Clam-shell
  • Cold Stream

Purdue released a very helpful visual guide to differentiate between the three, as well as an explanation of where the thrust actually goes! Since the PW2000 series is a high by-pass engine, the cold stream type is what we would expect, and as you can see it is indeed what is happening:

757-200-Engine1
At the gate in ATL
757-200-Engine2
Thrust Reversal!

Arizona Meteor Crater

And now, a brief reprieve from AvGeekery. 😉 Very brief.

En route to Los Angeles, we crossed just south of the Barringer Crater! You can see it up and to the left of the engine intake, below.

Barringer Meteor Crater
Barringer Meteor Crater

Plane Spotting!

Upon Arrival at LAX, I made my way to the SkyClub in the middle of Terminal 5. From one of the seats along the window, I was able to see planes arrive and depart. Given LAX’s traffic, I got to see quite a few wide-bodies, as well as one of Alaska’s 737-900ERs! Lucky, on his blog “One Mile at a Time”, has a very nice guide on differentiating between different variants of wide-body aircraft. Simply put, it largely comes down to the number of wheels, engines, or doors they have. 😉

I tried to find the right version of their seat map on SeatGuru, and have provided links to those, as well. If you find something amiss, please let me know!

AlaskaAir-737-900ER
Boeing 737-900ER
AirTahitiNui-A340-300
Airbus A340-300
Alitalia-777-200ER
Boeing 777-200ER
American-777-300ER
Boeing 777-300ER
Qatar-777-200LR
Boeing 777-200LR
Lufthansa-A380
Airbus A380

After an hour and a half, because the inbound flight was a little late in arriving, I was on my way to Sacramento. It’s not a true visit to LAX without catching a glimpse of the Theme Building!

LAX Theme Building

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