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[When is] SAN Landing Reversed (West to East)

[When is] SAN Landing Reversed (West to East)

Old Nov 25, 12, 11:53 am
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[When is] SAN Landing Reversed (West to East)

Flew into SAN last night and after passing under the marine layer, realized that I was not looking out the window at downtown as I should have been. As we touched down, it hit me that we had landed from west to east. A quick check of our flight pattern online confirmed that we went a few miles out over the Pacific, circled back, and landed to the east.

I've never landed any way in SAN except the usual east-to-west over downtown. Anyone know exactly why this happened - weather related, I'm assuming? There really didn't seem to be much fog last night, but the marine layer height was fairly low.
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Old Nov 25, 12, 11:58 am
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Planes land into the wind. You benefit from the wind as "free" airspeed allowing you to land "slower" in terms of speed relative to the ground, using less runway.

Last edited by Doc Savage; Nov 25, 12 at 12:04 pm
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Old Nov 25, 12, 2:30 pm
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Originally Posted by Doc Savage View Post
Planes land into the wind. You benefit from the wind as "free" airspeed allowing you to land "slower" in terms of speed relative to the ground, using less runway.
SAN is not a windy city and prevailing breezes are usually "Westerlies" off the sea, calling for landings to the West. The main runways are designated 9/27 of thereabouts, indicative of their geographic orientation (which is a little off due East/West, but close enough for government work). If memory serves, the area South of the runways was during WWII a giant aircraft manufacturing complex, complete with seaplane ramps allowing seaplanes and amphibs to drive on/off the Bay (no 'fill" islands back then)

In all honesty, I always preferred the occasional landing to the East, to avoid that feeling of descending between tall buildings on the high ground east of the airport.
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Old Nov 25, 12, 3:59 pm
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Looking at the metars for the past 24 hours, the winds were light and southerly. It's more likely the Rwy 9 approach was due to low visibility;
San Diego Runway Use program

San Diego Lindbergh Field shall normally use runway 27 for departures and arrivals unless the wind is out of the east at 10 knots or greater, at which time runway 9 shall be the active runway, regardless of visibility.

If the reported ceiling drops below 700' and/or the visibility decreases below 2 statute miles, then San Diego shall use runway 9 for arrivals and departures.

If the reported ceiling drops below 300' and/or the visibility below 1 statute mile, San Diego will use runway 9 for arrivals and runway 27 for departures. During this situation, arrivals and departures will both occur west of the field, and delays should be expected. When required, SAN APP should advise CTR of any needed flow restrictions.
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Old Nov 25, 12, 4:17 pm
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west coast reversal

Thank you for posting the unusual event. I have always noticed that all of my landings at SAN were from east to west. The same is generally true at LAX where I have only taken off from west to east once and it felt very strange.
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Old Nov 25, 12, 5:44 pm
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SAN Landing Reversed (West to East)

I've landed in from the ocean a couple times out of about 300 landings in SAN. It's pretty rare and has always been due to visibility in my cases. Sort of scary the first time it happens if you are used to landing to the west.
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Old Nov 25, 12, 7:34 pm
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As this topic is specific to one airport, we'll shift this over the appropriate Destination forum. Thanks! /JY1024, TravelBuzz co-moderator
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Old Nov 25, 12, 9:08 pm
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We flew into SAN last night at about 7:30, and I'm surprised that we landed to the west (runway 27/normal flow) - the fog was thick.

As much as I've flown in and out of SAN, I could count on one hand the times that I've experienced a reverse takeoff or landing.
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Old Nov 26, 12, 10:17 am
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Originally Posted by Scooter View Post
We flew into SAN last night at about 7:30, and I'm surprised that we landed to the west (runway 27/normal flow) - the fog was thick.
25-Nov 07:51PM MVFR Calm Broken 1200 10 15 59 12 53 83% 29.96
25-Nov 07:04PM MVFR 230/5kts Broken 1200 10 15 59 12 53 82% 29.95

(Visibility bolded) "Officially" still marginally VFR so likely just the marine layer encroaching as usual.
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Old Nov 27, 12, 2:26 am
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Originally Posted by Scooter View Post
We flew into SAN last night at about 7:30, and I'm surprised that we landed to the west (runway 27/normal flow) - the fog was thick.
Thick fog in the air? At the surface it was 7-8 mi vis and 900 ft ceiling, well above the 660 ft that necessitate Rwy 9.

KSAN 250351Z 18004KT 8SM BKN009 16/13 A2998 AO2 SLP152 T01560133 $
KSAN 250251Z 19003KT 7SM BKN009 16/13 A2998 AO2 SLP150 T01560133 51006

Last edited by HkCaGu; Nov 27, 12 at 2:27 am Reason: added METARs
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Old Dec 7, 12, 7:21 pm
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The same thing happened to me last month. It's very disorienting to not see the downtown to the left!
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Old Dec 16, 12, 10:42 pm
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Low ceiling requires ILS approach to SAN which means Rwy 9.

I've flown into and out of SAN for 30+ years now and have landed on 9 ONCE.

Have never taken off on 9.
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Old Feb 4, 13, 3:02 pm
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Question about landing at SAN

I fly into SAN about a dozen times a year so not that much in the big scheme of things. However, whenever I do go to SAN the landing is always "down the hill" and it always seems that if you talk to anyone about landing at SAN, the conversation seems to include the "down the hill" approach and seeing the parking garage, etc.

So it was a pleasant surprise this morning when we landed to the southeast and it got me wondering how often that happens at SAN. Perhaps it's not all that unusual but it was a first for me so I was curious to see if it's more common than I think or if it is something that happens very infrequently.
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Old Feb 4, 13, 3:05 pm
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It has to do with wind direction and sometimes visibility, so occasionally will land as you did today.
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Old Feb 4, 13, 3:53 pm
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Landing gets reversed at SAN during Santa Ana conditions. Also, sometimes storms will change the direction of the winds necessitating the change.

The reverse landing cuts a good 10-15 minutes off of the flight time. Of the several hundred flights I have taken out of SAN, I can only remember 2-3 reverse landings. I can't recall a reverse take-off.
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