For Pilots

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Pilot Deviations - Santa Monica Airport

Notice Number: NOTC7676

KSMO Runway Safety and Operational Update

There continues to be a significant number of surface pilot deviations at KSMO since the runway length has been shortened. Pilots must use only marked exits when entering or exiting the runway at KSMO. Operations on closed taxiway/runway surface are prohibited. Please note, and avoid, the following situations, which could lead to the filing of a Pilot Deviation:

Pilots are still exiting the runway anywhere along the runway between runway lights, which is NOT authorized.

Pilots sometimes taxi beyond the runway end after landing, onto the yellow chevron-marked surface. Taxing on the surface beyond the runway ends is NOT authorized.

The yellow chevron-marked surface beyond each runway end is NOT a displaced threshold. Landing or take-off from that surface is NOT authorized.

When taxiing out for departure, some pilots are taxiing onto the closed portions of parallel taxiways Alfa and Bravo, which is NOT authorized.

Please review the hyperlink for photographic examples, and refer to the included airport diagram to familiarize yourself with appropriate intersections and taxiways:

For additional information on airport signs and markings, please refer to the Aeronautical Information Manual, Section 3. Airport Marking Aids and Signs.

Please contact, Robert Russ, SMO ATCT, at <> or <tel:(310)%20398-4525>310-398-4525 ext. 2, for any questions or additional information concerning this information.





The Jet That Crashed Before Takeoff


Bierne Lay, Jr.                                                                                    Harper’s Magazine, September 1957

A precautionary Tale & A fictional account-based on the record of many military flying accidents-of the tiny mishaps which can lead a pilot into disaster.


     JET fighter Number 313 taxied onto the end of the runway, cleared for takeoff. The Pilot, a young major, fastened his safety belt, set his brakes, and ran up 100 per cent rpm on his engine-a huge, long corncob that made up nearly all of his airplane. Then he released his toe brakes. The wheels rolled the first inch. And in that first inch, the Pilot of Number 313 was doomed. In effect, he was already dead.

     A mile and a half of smooth, white concrete runway narrowed into the distance in front of the nose of the gleaming, javelin-sleek, swept-wing fighter-8,000 feet of it, more than ample for the (5,700-foot take-off distance calculated in the flight plan.

     The weather was good, a clear bright morning with a hot sun beating down on the shimmering California desert. Surface winds were nearly dead calm. The 1-79 engine was in perfect condition and turning up normal thrust. No mechanical defect lurked anywhere within the complex innards of the aircraft. The Pilot was highly experienced and could point to a spotless safety record and superior past performance. The mission, like every mission in the Air Force had been minutely planned: gross weight at take-off figured to the pound; runway temperature, surface-wind velocity, and every other factor to insure the mathematical certainty that the wheels of Number 313 would unstick from the runway after a roll of 6,700 feet. No one connected with the planning or preparation for the mission was guilty of a fatal blunder.

Only one thing was wrong. A series of minor errors, already irrevocably committed, not one of which was fatal in itself, when added together spelled out a stark fact: Number 313 could not possibly get off the 8,000-foot runway safely. She needed 8,100 feet, instead of 6,700 feet.

Why?How could this happen in a precision organization like the United States Air Force, where hundreds of heavily loaded jet aircraft take off every day without incident? The Air Force emphasizes “flying safety” second only to accomplishment of its primary mission and has achieved a consistently lower accident rate each year since World War II.Part of the answer is that each “routine” take-off is not really routine. Rather, it is a kind of triumph, endlessly repeated, over an unseen enemy always lying in wait to prove that an accident is “no accident." It is a triumph, illustrated in reverse, so to speak, by the case of Number 313, which highlights one of the new facts of life in the jet age: a jet take-off is more critical than the familiar take-off in a propeller-driven aircraft. Far more so.

     Perhaps the simplest way to visualize the situation that confronted Number 313 is to think of the Pilot’s safety margin-that 1,300-foot surplus between his estimated 6,700-foot take-off distance and the 8,000-foot runway-as money in the bank. As long as he had any or all of those 1,300 feet, he was in the black. But a series of petty thefts could conceivably put him in the red.Number 313 was the victim of four such thefts, plus two other contributing factors.

     Theft number one: As the fighter was taxiing out, the control tower reported practically adead calm, a zero wind, as forecast in the flight plan. However, by the time Number 313 actually started her take-off, she had a four-knot tailwind. This was so small a change that the tower operator either did not notice it or did not consider it important enough to relay it to the Pilot. Certainly this was no drastic windshift. But it cost the Pilot 310 feet of added take-off distance required. Unknown to him, it brought his bank balance down to 990 feet. Still plenty of margin.

     Theft number two: Take-off had been planned for 11:15 A.M., at which time the run-way temperature was forecast to be, and actually was 97 degrees. But Number 313 had taxied out half an hour late because of a valid delay while the crew chief double-checked a malfunctioning fire-warning light and replaced a bulb. During this delay and later, while the fighterwas taxiing for over a mile from the parking ramp to the end of the runway, the temperature rose slightly to 101 degrees. A prolonged delay, say of an hour, would have automatically necessitated a revised flight plan, but the Pilot followed common procedure, in view of the shorter delay, when he followed his original flight plan. This unforeseen and seemingly negligible rise of four degrees of temperature robbed him of another 190 feet, since hotter air adds to the take-off roll of a jet in two ways. The engine develops less thrust, and the wings need a higher take-off speed in the thinner air. As he released his toe brakes, the Pilot did not know that hisbank balance was now down to 800 feet.

     Theft number three: The Pilot was executing his first take-off from an unfamiliar air base, having arrived the previous day as a transient. Therefore he was unaware of an optical illusion that confronted him as he stared down the runway at the desert floor, rising gradually from the far end of the runway toward a distant mountain range. To his eyes, the runway appeared to slope slightly downhill in contrast with the rising ground beyond, Actually, there was an imperceptible uphill grade, placing the far end of the runway 260 feet higher than where he sat, and requiring a take-off roll-under existing conditions of a tailwind and high temperature-of an additional 550 feet. Now, unknown to the pilot, his bank balance had shrunk to 250feet. It was still enough, but it was getting close to bankruptcy.

     Theft number four: Lack of sleep for the pilot, as a result of an unexpected change inthe weather during the previous night, became a pertinent factor. Confident he would be weathered in for a couple of days until a cold front passed, he had left the base on the evening before to enjoy a night on the town with a clear conscience.


      His family and his girl lived not far from the air base, and their convivial reunion lasted into the small hours. He was awakened after three and a half hours of sleep by a call from the base notifying him of a break in the weather. Since he was under orders to return to his home base as soon as possible, there was nothing for it but to bolt a cup of black coffee,hustle on out to the base, and start wheeling and dealing.

     You don’t just leap into the cockpit of a supersonic jet fighter and take off, unless you are an interceptor pilot on twenty-four-hour alert duty. This was an extended navigational mission requiring careful planning, preflight inspections, and attention to the check lists. And there is where the lack of sufficient rest led to the final withdrawal from the already slim bank accountof Number 313.

     The Pilot arrived to find that the Assistant Operations Officer, an old pal, had lent a hand and figured the weight of fuel in the main tanks and the auxiliary wing-tip tanks, based on servicing performed the night before. It had been a cold night-an important factor. In arriving at the correct weight, it is necessary to apply a correction for temperature. This his friend haddone, but inadvertently he had applied the correction the wrong way, subt