More on the Flight Path

LAX - Los Angeles, Miscellaneous

I know I briefly mentioned the Flight Path Museum at LAX in my post last week, but I decided it deserved a post of its own. The museum really is a fantastic place.

It’s awesomeness begins with its location. I mean, is there a better place for an aviation museum than in a former terminal? LAX’s Imperial Terminal hasn’t been used for years, but it’s most famous resident was probably MGM Grand Air which flew DC-8s and 727s between LAX and JFK. You can still see the baggage claim areas outside.

Once you’re inside, you’ll be overwhelmed with exhibits. If you grew up in LA as I did, it just brings back so many fond memories. There’s the history of LAX which takes place along the walls and has tons of great photos. Then there are small areas dedicated to the histories of individual airlines that have made a big impact at the airport. My favorite exhibits had to be the PSA and Western ones. Below, you’ll see a shot of the Mexicana one that I snapped when I was there last week. I still remember seeing those golden DC-10s roll off the runways.

07_12_03 MXFlightPath

The amount of memorabilia they’ve collected over the years is impressive, but that’s not everything. If you used to visit the California Museum of Science and Industry (now the California Science Center) back in the 80’s, you might remember seeing a DC-3 painted in Union 76 colors in the shadow of a United DC-8. Well, that plane has now made its way to the Flight Path and it sits right outside in all its glory.

In a way, it’s also a living museum. Once you’re done with the exhibits, you can just look out the big glass windows to see a great view of aircraft departing and arriving on runways 25L and 25R. They even have some old airline seats in which you can sit to take a break.

Still not convinced it’s worth a visit? It’s free. Yup. No cost at all. And parking is free too. Shocking, I know. But that should be enough to convince you to go if nothing else. The museum is open from 10a to 3p Tuesday through Saturday. To get there, just hop on the 105 West until it turns into Imperial Highway. The entrance will be shortly afterwards on the right hand side.

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14 comments on “More on the Flight Path

  1. Any idea if there’s an easy way to make it to the museum from LAX? Is the entrance within walking distance? (I know the general area, but with all the freeways and fences, it could be quite a hike) The museum would be a great trip in a long layover (or when arriving early for a flight).

  2. You definitely can’t walk it from the terminals since you have to go all the way around the runways. (I don’t think there are sidewalks in the Sepulveda tunnel, and if there were, I still wouldn’t use them.)

    You can always take a cab, of course, but there is a better way, I think. I’m not sure how strict Embassy Suites is with their shuttles, but if they aren’t too strict, this is a great option. Take the shuttle to the Embassy Suites LAX South (make sure it’s the south one). That drops you off just a couple blocks away from the Flight Path.

  3. Hey CF,

    Is there any way you can post an address or the museum website? I just moved here to LA from DC and have been longing for a replacement to my beloved Air and Space museum. I’d love to give this place a go and see how I like it. Thanks!

  4. If you ask nicely they will actually let you go out in the DC-3, I’ve been in it 3 or 4 times now. And on occasion they will open the doors and let you take pics from the fenced area that faces the runways. All in all they are really awesome people there at the Flight Path, one of my friends volunteers there on a regular basis.

  5. CF
    I grew up on Center Street in El Segundo. The Imperial Terminal was just down the road, and we could see the tails of all the “nonskeds'” DC-7s. You mention Mexicana’s DC-10s, but I remember their Comet 4Cs at LAX–talk about loud, even admid all those “straight-pipe” smoke-belching turbojets. Back to the Imperial Terminal. Before the charter carriers moved there from the old Century Blvd terminals, North American used the facility to deliver their Saberliners and then Carrol Shelby assembled his Mustang GTs there. One of my classmate’s fathers was the official photographer for LAX, and I would imagine his photos are in the new collection.

  6. I just came across your website. What a TREAT!

    One of my first jobs was working at West Imperial Terminal as a Ticket Agent for Mercury Services (The Ground Handler at West Imperial). I believe they were located in the “Mercury Building” at 6664 W. Imperial Hwy.

    I worked all the Non-Skeds/Charters: ONA, World, TIA, Laker (Pre Skytrain), Capitol, BCAL, etc. Eventually I was hired-on Part-Time by TIA (later Transamerica), as well as World. This was from 1976-80 (approx). I LOVED working at West Imperial. I flew out of there as a passenger (as a child), and ended-up working there in my first REAL job. It was an AWESOME time in Aviation, and I made lifelong friendships there as well.

    I moved on in aviation to Pan Am, then Continental and eventually working overseas with a Middle East carrier and then British Airtours in LGW before returning to the States; but Charters were my passion.

    In the early 90’s I was lucky enough to be a passenger on MGM Grand Air (Formerly Regent Air). I remember walking into that terminal in 1991 in awe……I could not believe it was the same place I had spent my “youth” working delays on DC-8’s & 707’s delayed for 24hrs at a time….the place had been transformed, and here I was sitting in the “lounge”, next to the likes of Barbara Eden, Robert DeNiro and Arnold Schwarzeneggar……what a trip it truly was!

    Fast forward; I am now a “seasoned” flight attendant for one of those “flaky” charters…..yes, still in business after 63 years. I have come full circle. But EVERY time I land on either runway 25 L or R at LAX, I glance over, looking at the (old) Pan Am Cargo Building, and right next to it, West Imperial…….and I smile.

    I GUARANTEE, the next time I have a LAX layover….I WILL be visiting your Museum!!!!! I have pictures, memorabilia and memories I would LOVE to share!

    THANK YOU for being online!

    Best regards,

  7. Ah, one of my favorite places here in LA. Do you still go once in a while, CF?
    I go there quite frequently.

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