Tuesday, July 21, 2009

LAX parking lot is home away from home for airline workers

For about 15 days a month, Alaska Airlines pilot Jim Lancaster lives in a motor home in Parking Lot B near the southernmost runway at Los Angeles International Airport.

Every four minutes, a jetliner or turboprop roars in -- 500 feet above his front door -- for a landing. The noise is so loud it forces Lancaster to pause during conversations. But he doesn't mind. Lancaster puts up with the smell of jet fuel and screaming engines to save time and money.

The 60-year-old aviator's primary residence is a cottage he shares with his wife overlooking a quiet bay off Puget Sound in Washington state. Living in Lot B while he's on duty means he doesn't have to rent a Los Angeles apartment with other pilots or spend 12 hours a day commuting to and from the Seattle area.

"As kids we used to ask our parents to take us to the airport to see the planes," Lancaster quipped. "Now I get to live at the airport."

He isn't the only one. Lancaster's 2001 Tradewinds sits among 100 trailers and motor homes that form a colony of pilots, mechanics and other airline workers at LAX, the third-busiest airport in the nation. They are citizens of one of the most unusual communities in the United States.
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