Best Time to Watch Airplanes Land with Kids?

Question & Answer (Edhat)

I have three young kids who are all interested in airplanes. I thought it would be fun to park at the pickup area at the Santa Barbara Airport and watch the planes take off and land.

Does anyone know what a good time to do this would be? Or if there’s a better location? Thanks in advance.


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    • Pretty sure that’s just the lower level of the airport, which is open to the public (TSA checkpoint is upstairs). Head straight back from the main doors and there’s a patio with that ball machine sculpture thing that’s been there forever.

  1. What’s the most fun to see? Your answer favors different locations. For example, as a kid, I liked the small planes and in late teens it was jets. Sometimes ground operations, but mostly takeoffs and landings – plus a few times the thundering roar of jets taking off or screaming overhead for landing just before touchdown. Now I like it all. 🙂 The observation area, though less immediate and engaging, could be a good place for all of it with the benefit of low risk for hearing damage (without good ear protection). Look at the airport on Google maps for places to park and walk to good viewing locations. As for time, check the SBA schedule for commercial jets. FlightAware’s good for everything and fun to watch & compare (delayed some) with what you see in the air

  2. This page has their live arrivals/departures schedule Around noon are the most flights in the shortest time and also some departures.

    It’s hard to predict when they’ll land from the east or the west… an app like FlightAware can be used to see the approach paths of the flights. If they’re landing from the east, the “small parking lot” that @sacjon mentioned is good viewing, the signs call it the “Cell Phone Lot”. It has a number of plaques showing the history of the airport as a military base in WW II.

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