747 Flies Low Over Manhattan Beach

Residents are alarmed when they hear the jumbo jet flying so low over their homes late Monday night.

A United Airlines Boeing 747-400 plane leaving Los Angeles International Airport bound for Australia flew over Manhattan Beach along Rosecrans Avenue and out over the ocean at an altitude of 1,450 feet Monday night around 10:38 p.m., according to an online flight tracking system.

Residents in Manhattan Beach tweeted about the plane:

jeez, a jumbo jet just flew over my house! What the heck is going on?! 

jet over our house terrified us. Any idea what the heck?!

Hello; I live in Hawthorne right off Aviation/Rosecrans and that jet was LOW.

The online flight tracker shows the jet taking off to the east at LAX, then making a right turn to go over the 105 freeway and then the 405 freeway before straightening its course to essentially head down Rosecrans Avenue out over the ocean.

Bruce Nelson, operations officer with the FAA Western-Pacific Region, told Patch the flight pattern is unusual. "Yeah, they don't do that too often [fly over MB]," he said. "They want every little bit of wind they can get."

Planes need to go against wind to get more lift, said Nelson. Typically, heavy cargo planes are the ones flying this sort of pattern, he noted.

Reads the LAX website: "On those nights when the land cools faster than the ocean, a slight offshore wind occurs blowing from east to west. For aircraft departing to the west this wind is called a tail wind as it comes from behind the aircraft as they are departing. This condition is a safety factor for the departing aircraft and it is left up to the pilot to determine whether the tail wind component is too great for that type of aircraft and its weight to depart safely over the ocean. These sporadic east departures usually occur because the pilots determine it is not safe and request to depart into the wind that is blowing from the east."

As shown on the tracker, as the UA Boeing 747 reached the ocean, its altitude climbed from 1,949 feet to 2,336 feet and higher.

Nelson said FAA regulations allow a jet to fly as low as 1,000 feet. He said the UA 747 was "pretty low."

The jet's scheduled departure time was listed as 10:10 p.m. on United Airline's website. The flight was headed for Sydney, Australia, followed by a trip to Melbourne.

According to UA's website, the Boeing 747-400 aircraft specifications are:

  • Capacity: 374 (12 United Global First, 52 United BusinessFirst, 310 United Economy)
  • Cruise Speed: 647 mph
  • Propulsion: Four Pratt and Whitney PW4056-III engines, rated at 56,750 pounds of thrust each
  • Wingspan: 213 feet

Did you hear the Boeing 747 when it flew over Manhattan Beach? What did you see, hear or feel? were you scared?

Ruks December 05, 2012 at 08:40 AM
Sitting in my living room in my 33rd St home when I looked out the window to see a plane heading (what looked like) straight for my house... It was very surreal. I saw it pass over and quickly rose higher into the sky as it went over the ocean (we are blocks from the ocean with a view so I could see everything). Never thought to complain nor was I really worried but it freaked the crap out of me!
UncleE December 05, 2012 at 04:22 PM
Might wanna move the flight path away from one of the largest gasoline refineries in the country, herp derp
David Rosing December 05, 2012 at 06:33 PM
OK, guys, chill. If this happens once every 40 years you won't live long enough for it to happen again. Sounds like they did have to turn immediately to the downwind, most likely because of landing traffic coming from the east directly at them. Unfortunately because the airspace around LAX is a bit complicated, they HAD to stay low to avoid any traffic in the VFR corridor that crosses directly over LAX at 3500 feet. Trust me, the noise is far less than if a 850,000 pound 747 carrying 390,000 pounds of fuel landed in your back yard after a collision with somebody. So, sorry you had to change your undies, but it's not like it happens on a regular basis, and it sounds like they had to make the best of the situation they had. I know it was pretty scary, but at least you lived, everyone on the airplane lived and everyone is alive to gripe about it. You can gripe all you want, that's fine, but keep in mind they were actually doing the SAFE thing under the circumstances. I know it doesn't seem that way, but it's true.
Cameron Holbert December 05, 2012 at 06:56 PM
It actually happens a lot more than every 40 years. It looks like it is quite common for planes to take off into oncoming traffic. I didn't realize that myself till I checked out the reports online. In October there were 13 incidents of that happening (check out this pdf: http://lawa.org/uploadedFiles/lax/pdf/east_dep_report-201210.pdf). That being said, that plane was unusually low, I have heard them fly over, but they have never been anywhere as loud as the other night. That was crazy loud. So with this new knowledge I would like to change my previous consternation of "OMG a plane took off in the wrong direction!!" to "OMG the plane couldn't climb fast enough and almost took out everyone at the top of the dune!!". :)
Patricia Quagletti December 05, 2012 at 07:20 PM
I live on 35th and Maple and jumped out of bed when I heard the jumbo jet on Monday night. I have never heard anything like it before. My family was shocked and scared. I think our city officials have to come down hard on LAX and the FAA and let them know we will not tolerate "being in their flight path" ever again. Chevron is a huge refinery in case LAX and the FAA had not noticed.
Lu Johnson December 05, 2012 at 08:15 PM
Sez Denny Schneider: "LAWA is submitting a formal request to the FAA to prohibit these east departures." So then, if successful, you are forcing a plane to make an even riskier take-off? That sounds quite selfish of LAWA and it's members, and completely oblivious to the needs of the aircraft whose pilot ONCE IN A BLUE MOON may need this rare departure to live and be safe. Niiiiice thinking, and character, LAWA. BTW, remember that the airport was there before all the residential growth, so shut up and suck it up. Jeez. Try to develope some fairness, character and respect for the reality that surrounds you, and remember, it's NOT ALWAYS ALL ABOUT YOU.
Hans Laetz December 06, 2012 at 02:07 AM
"Make the big loud jets take off to the east, over Inglewood, Lennox, and the poor people who are used to such intrusions," Is that your message? Sure sounds that way.
Andrew December 06, 2012 at 02:28 AM
I live on 29th and had never heard a plane sound like this one. It was scary. I was thinking I hope that is not coming down. Very loud and very close.
scott December 06, 2012 at 04:33 AM
Boss....da plane...da plane!
me December 06, 2012 at 07:30 AM
Airport has been there longer than you have, deal!
John Murray December 06, 2012 at 06:17 PM
It appears that the internet trolls are out today. Evidently, the passing of the last election has left them with extra time on their hands. 1. Yes, the airport has been here a long time. That is not the point. 2. This is not whining. The plane was incredibly loud on Monday night. A review of the LAX flight site shows it dropped coming over the 405 and did not climb again until over the water. It was lower here than over Inglewood. 3. There is a very good reason why LAX is on the ocean. As such, I expect the planes to take off to the west (LAX even bought all of those houses along Vista Del Mar and demolished them years ago), even if United Airlines has to forego a couple of bucks by leaving some cargo behind (United could also buy some new planes like its competitors, so it does not have to fly those "bucket of bolts" noisy old 747s). The winds were very light on Monday night. It was an economic decision, not a safety decision. United's Tuesday flight, with the same weather conditions, took off toward the west. 4. When the planes have to take off to east, they need to climb so that they don't blow the shingles off of my roof. The residents to the east moved there knowing they are under the LAX flight path; we didn't as we are not under the flight path. Spare me the "class warfare" drivel. Also, those residents know that when planes fly over low, it is not an unusual event signaling that a plane was in trouble; we had reason to fear the worst.
John P. December 06, 2012 at 06:23 PM
So, you want them to fly over someone else's house, maybe Redondo or Long Beach? Possibly, you want them to not fly at all, that would certainly be popular with all those that work at LAX. This flight leaves every night, and on rare occasions, because of the wind, the FAA requires it to leave to the east. At least next time you will know all is well, but so long as your up, write a few self serving complaints.
EE December 06, 2012 at 06:48 PM
These comments are very amusing. With the exception of a few, these comments are the biggest bunch of whiners I have ever witnessed. Yes, you live in a very nice area. So sorry that a 747 flew too low over your nice homes and disturbed your peace. Go and sit at Dockweiler beach sometime underneath the flight path when they are taking off to the west (which is 99.9% of the time). The 747s and other "heavies" bound for Europe and Asia take off low. They are very heavy with fuel for the 10+ hour flights. If you have ever been on one of those flights, you have probably noticed that the take-off runs are very long. It takes a lot of runway to get a fully fueled 747 up to take off speed. What the other commenter said about that airplane doing the safest thing possible. They were flying so low because they had to. They were probably flying at full throtle trying to gain altitude. They also had to fly over your precious city to be out of the way of the other airplanes coming in from the ocean. It's been my experience that when airplanes are taking off to the east, the ones landing usually come in from the ocean. If you are so offended about an airplane flying over your city once in a while, try talking to someone who lives in Inglewood, they have landing airplanes fly over their homes every two minutes.
John Murray December 06, 2012 at 09:23 PM
There is no logical thread in any of these rebuttals, but let me try to refute: 1. It is noisier in Inglewood Yes, I know. The planes should take off only to the west to spare those people too. Besides, it has been noisy there for 40 years and those people made the decision to live there (yes, there are alternatives). 2. It is noisy on Dockweiler Beach Yes it is. That is why I don't live there and neither does anyone else (since LAX condemned the houses years ago). 3. The plane had to fly low No, United could have either offloaded some cargo or used a plane with appropriate performance characteristics (B777, B787, A340, A380, etc.). On Tuesday night, the same flight went west. 4. Quit whining as it was not that bad. Really? The decibel readings two miles north in El Segundo were in the red. Also, the plane dropped at the 405 (after 2 tight 90 degree turns) and then headed west over land higher than Inglewood (drive east on Rosecrans over Sepulveda and you will see the land drops for 3 miles+. The plane did not stop climbing again until over water.
Jack Offen December 06, 2012 at 09:42 PM
Wow, suddenly everyone is an expert on safe flight operations! Who knew so many pilots lived in Manhattan Beach? Look, should there be a cursory investigation into scaring the crap out of everyone? Sure. But should anything change, depends... You live in the South Bay, ten minutes from an International Airport. Planes are going to be a constant presence, as sure as the noise from waves crashing loudly if you live by the ocean. So unless you are an expert in flight ops and you know the air space restrictions and operational requirements of LAX -- quit whining about "unsafe" and "dangerous" and "how dare they make noise!" -- at least till you do the research.
Harold Sullivan December 06, 2012 at 09:43 PM
Wow, suddenly everyone is an expert on safe flight operations! Who knew so many pilots lived in Manhattan Beach? Look, should there be a cursory investigation into scaring the crap out of everyone? Sure. But should anything change, depends... You live in the South Bay, ten minutes from an International Airport. Planes are going to be a constant presence, as sure as the noise from waves crashing loudly if you live by the ocean. So unless you are an expert in flight ops and you know the air space restrictions and operational requirements of LAX -- quit whining about "unsafe" and "dangerous" and "how dare they make noise!" -- at least till you do the research.
Hans Laetz December 06, 2012 at 10:14 PM
"The planes should take off only to the west." And when winds shift, the planes should do what? Taxi to Ontario? United should have shifted aircraft? Are you daft? They would have needed two smaller planes, with shorter range. The cost would have been, quite literally, in the millions. Mr. Murray, it is not necessary for us to paint you as a whiner. You state the case eloquently.
John P. December 06, 2012 at 10:57 PM
Oh, I got it now, you thought because you do not live in Inglewood that you were exempt from airplane noise. I got news for you, there is no sign in the sky that says not to fly over the entitled, spoiled, beach city rich. You are fortunate to be able to live where you do, but check your property title, it does not say that airplanes are prohibited from flying over house. By your comment, you obviously know nothing about aviation, some of those airplanes would only make it to Fiji. The good news is that airlines hate departing east, it costs more time and more money and is a last resort.
John Murray December 07, 2012 at 12:38 AM
Chevron and El Segundo have noise monitors set up to record the noise from the refinery. The FAA can subpoena that data. There appear to be cognitive deficiencies here. Read what is stated and respond to what is said, not the argument you invent so you can rebut.
Hans Laetz December 07, 2012 at 01:29 AM
Cognitive, meet deficiency, above post.
John Murray December 07, 2012 at 05:01 AM
As Bill Clinton said at the last Democratic Convention, “Listen closely because this is really important”. No, I do not advocate shutting LAX down, cancelling flights, prohibiting eastward departures when necessary for safety reasons, or swapping out smaller aircraft at the last minute. Instead, the options for United Airlines are: (1) leaving a couple of tons of freight for another day so that the plane can take off toward the west or, if needed for safety, take off to the east and climb safely; (2) plan ahead by swapping out your rust bucket 747s for planes that have the capacity to take off to the west (even dumpy Delta has 777s) or take off to the east with a full load and climb safely; or (3) plan a refueling stop in Fiji (there are no typhoons, tsunamis or coups this week in the news). This is a greed issue, not a safety issue. Let me draw an analogy: Assume I am walking down my street with my dog and a speeding car jumps the curb and transforms my dog into a pancake. I do not need to call a veterinarian to tell me my dog is dead or call a police officer to give me permission to file a criminal complaint and a civil complaint. Some things are within the grasp of people of common intelligence. Even you. Let’s talk to the members of the flight deck, the passengers and the people in the neighborhood. Let’s examine the plane computer, the control tower radar information, the Chevron/El Segundo security cameras and the Chevron/El Segundo noise monitors.
Hans Laetz December 07, 2012 at 03:35 PM
Oh, now we're assuming the mantle of Bill Clinton in our pious bleatings? "Leave a couple tons of freight behind." Which suitcases? "Rust bucket 747s." Tell you what, why doesn't Manhattan beach pass a tax to pay to retire perfectly good aircraft? "Refuel in Fiji." Thank you, captain aviation, for your expensive suggestion. "hjis is a greed issue, not a safety issue." Precisely correct. A few greedy Manhattan Beach "aviation experts" want to keep the noise out of their neighborhoods. Your analogy is as bad as your whiney attitude, and your sanctimonious insult. As Bill Clinton said, do the math ... which is as much of a gratuitous non-sequiter as your entire chain of logic.
Joanne Chiappinelli Hadley December 07, 2012 at 06:41 PM
John Murray, you have stated your ideas in a factual and logical way ...and restated them...(and clearly re-stated them again!) showing a great amount of patience for your rebutters who cannot argue about this sensibly. The residents affected by this unusual and unacceptable event agree with your views and understand this incident's real implications. I suggest you move on and I ask that you, please, use your skills and info you've gathered and notify the authorities on our behalf (if you haven't already done so). We'd really appreciate it.
Brian Jones December 08, 2012 at 09:13 AM
Is a 747-400 really that old....that that was a new version of the plane....not a rust bucket. I bet it looked cool going over Sand dune park. I hated running that bastard when I was attached to the Combat Engineer company next door to it ;)
Brian Jones December 08, 2012 at 09:15 AM
Either way I bet it wasn't fun for the people in that neighborhood so all you haters can shut the hell up!
bob jay December 08, 2012 at 11:28 AM
i live in MB and just want to say thank you to united. the timing could not have been better. was with my girlfriend, she said it felt like the earth moved!
Charles Martin December 09, 2012 at 08:04 PM
It happens more often than you think this particular flight just turned a bit sharp and headed west over Rosecrans. Usually they are heading west over artesia where the planes obviously are a bit higher since they made a slighly wider turn. And I have seen many over the years with most of them being Qantas.
Alfredo December 09, 2012 at 10:43 PM
Its funny that this is being reported as news. Ive lived in lennox my entire life, this happens every year. During rainy weather planes will take off going east, flying extremely close over residential areas. You don't like having a plane flying over your house? Try having several 747s taking off over your house every hour all night long setting off car alarms and rattling windows. Stop complaining about it, you will be fine!
Patrick Smith December 10, 2012 at 12:13 AM
I'm sorry, but most of the comments here only underscore the general public's total lack of understanding about commercial flying -- something the media only reinforces through ill-informed articles like this one. - Patrick Smith www.askthepilot.com
Gary December 17, 2012 at 04:31 AM
It was 1450 above sea level...that's about 1300 above the ground in Manhattan Beach


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