Trip Information

United States
A Passenger's View...
A Passenger's View... (14)
Trip Date:2003-03-31 - 2003-04-12
# Photos:37 [View]
Countries visited:Denmark, Germany, United States
Viewed: 4598
Around Christmas time 2002 I received a wedding invitation from a friend in Los Angeles. At that time I was only five, six months away from my retirement as an Air Traffic Controller at an Airport Tower and Radar Contol Center in southern Sweden. So at that time it seemed very inconvenient, but as I had never been to the United States and was very keen on going, a strategy started to form.

If I could make this a study tour to various Air Traffic Control Towers of Southern California, and combine it with a sort of final gratuity for more than 30 years of service, I'd be home free. I'd get to go to USA and meet collegues of various kinds in their working environment; I'd come to the wedding and meet my friend and her husband-to-be and their friends and relatives; and - the best part of it - I wouldn't have to pay for it.

Now the lobbying began. I found out there was money (from Norwegian students we'd had in on-the-job-training) ment to be used at such occations, however you need to justify the purpose of the tour. Also such journeys only rarely were to be made outside Europe.

Luckily the situation concerning Air Traffic Control in southern California has a lot in common with the future situation in southern Sweden/eastern Denmark, so it wasn't that difficult building a strong case. Permissions were granted by a nice CAA-lady in Washington, although the country was at the brim of war. Tickets, rental car and accomodation were arranged by a local travel agent and at the end of February 2003 - finally - my superiors decided that, considering the lack of alternatives, I could go!

So on the last day of March I drove my car across the Íresund Bridge to Copenhagen Airport and flew away with Lufthansa's Boeing 737 to Frankfurt and from there with their Boeing 747 (and imagine, this is the first time I'm inside a 747) to Los Angeles. I picked up my rental car (an Oldsmobile Alero) and drove to my hotel (The Biltmore) in downtown Los Angeles! And I felt like coming home!

Ever since I was a young boy I've dreamed about this! I've grown up with American culture: films, music, books, food, posters, computers, everything. From Voice of America and Music U.S.A. with Duke Ellington's "Take the A Train" to the tanks at the Berlin Wall and Checkpoint Charlie; via M*A*S*H and "Catch 22" to "Friends" and David Letterman; from the first man on the Moon to InterNet and the Mars Rover...

Anyhow now it was reality. Finally I remembered the camera and began to shoot. From the first night at the hotel till touch-down at Copenhagen again. I went to Hollywood, to Beverly Hills, to San Fernando Valley, to Angeles Crest, around Downtown, to Santa Monica, to Venice, to Marina del Rey, to Long Beach, to Newport, to Santa Ana! I drove the Freeways, the Sunset Boulevard, the Hollywood, the Melrose, La Brea, the Wilshire, Grand, Olive, Broadway, Mulholland Drive and the Pacific Coast Highway. It was a dream come true and tried to document it to the best of my knowledge.

I made my study visits to the Control Towers of LAX (Los Angeles International), Van Nuys and Burbank. I attended the most beautiful wedding at the Athenaeum of California Institute of Technology in Pasadena on the Saturday evening, later dancing the night away. Spent a lazy Sunday afternoon at the newly wedd's house in La Ca˝ada. Then back to business with a drive down to Summer city San Diego and the Lindbergh Field Control Tower. A couple of more casual visits to Santa Monica Airfield, the Western Museum of Flight at Hawthorne and finally Grand Central Air Terminal - Los Angeles' original Air Terminal and Control Tower from 1928, now abandoned in an industrial area - rounded up the week and the visit.

On the 11th of April, after 12 days, I packed my stuff and went to the airport (now very familiar) and a rigorous safety check, which left me for a couple of hours in one of the least inspiring transit halls I've ever come across. The only thing I could do was write my friends a letter. However there were no stamps to obtain. Released from this near-death experience by, once more, Lufthansa's Boeing 747, I was relieved to return to Europe and the Frankfurt transit hall, where they had stamps but no mailbox.

The last leg to Copenhagen was performed by Scandinavian Airlines, which was a nice change - although linguistic shocking. And at last I had a seat by the window, which allowed me to take some photos during take-off and landing. A left hand approach to runway 22L in Copenhagen gave a splendid view of the Íresund Bridge and the Saltholm Island, so seldom seen from above.

After landing and a long walk through the very pleasing transit hall - with shops, bars and restaurants - to pick up my luggage, I focused on buying a (this time Danish) stamp and finding a nice red mailbox, sending that letter back across the Atlantic and the States to Los Angeles.

And then in my car, I almost hit the lamppost in front of me - I had forgotten how to drive with a clutch! One inch of air saved me! But on the other hand, these were the only "snags" of the entire journey. The journey of my life!

About three weeks later I did my last working shift...