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SW Aviator Feb/Mar 2001
SW Aviator Magazine is available in print free at FBOs and aviation-related businesses throughout the Southwest or by subscription.
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Santa Monica, California
Mooney M-20E at St. George

Story and photos by Marc Zorn

Flying in Southern California can be a daunting experience, if you haven't done it before. The airspace is complicated, and when it gets busy, controllers can deliver instructions as fast as auctioneers at a county fair. The terrain can be intimidating and the airports hard to spot across the densely populated city. But, it can be beautiful at the coast, and the payoff is worth the high pilot workload. That's why you need to plan to fly to one of the many interesting airports to relax with a really good meal. Santa Monica Municipal Airport (KSMO) is one of the best places in Southern California to do just that.

What makes this particular airport interesting? The names of adjacent streets such as Cloverfield Avenue and Donald Douglas Loop will give you some hints about it's venerable past. Without looking too closely, remnants of aviation's golden age are easy to find among some of the ultra-modern buildings. Santa Monica Airport was once known as Clover Field. It was home to the Douglas Aircraft Company, where they built one of the most recognizable and beloved planes of all time, the DC-3.

While noise abatement restrictions would prevent a DC-3 from regularly operating out of this airport today, there is no shortage of other interesting aircraft to spot. You can see anything from bizjets to helicopters to trainers to biplanes. Just don't expect to see them much after dark, when the noise limitations become much more restrictive.

Santa Monica is one of the favorite airports of the LA glitterati. It is not uncommon to see the familiar face of a celebrity looking out from behind the windscreen of a plane next to you in the run-up.

Southern California is also known for more than its fair share of great restaurants. It's not surprising that most of the local airports would have one. Santa Monica has a few just within the confines of the airport. Because this airport is situated on the west side of Los Angeles, where competition is fierce and real estate prices are high, restaurants have to be great to survive.

The great restaurant that we visited was Typhoon. It has the perfect location right alongside the ramp. You almost expect to throw your keys to a valet to park your plane for you, but instead, you can taxi right up and simply walk up the stairs and into the restaurant.
As soon as you enter, you realize that it serves the full spectrum of customers. The dark wooden furniture, big glass windows overlooking the field, skylights, and linen napkins give Typhoon a decidedly upscale feel. It is obvious that this is one of those hot spots for some Southern California stereotypes. When we sat down, we heard the conversation of the film execs at the next table talking about upcoming movie projects.

Mooney M-20E at St. George

Yet, despite some of the clientele, Typhoon is somewhat upscale without being pretentious. It has a meteorology theme, which fits very well at an airport. There is weather map symbology on the menu, the light fixtures, and even on the large etched mirror behind the bar. They use it the same way a steakhouse would use ranch brands.
So, what about the food? The menu at Typhoon offers an extensive mix of Asian cuisines. They have a complete selection of appetizers and entrees from seafood, beef, pork, poultry, noodles, soups, and vegetable dishes. If you have trouble deciding what to order when faced with such a selection, the very friendly wait staff will help.
We started with a Samosa appetizer, which is a crispy dumpling filled with potato and spiced with curry, and served with hot chili sauce and a yoghurt raita on the side. For a main meal, my friend Philip had the Pad Thai noodles. It was spiced just right and had a nice balance of flavors including egg, peanut sauce, bean sprouts, and green onions. I had the Thai Coconut Chicken Curry and brown rice. The large bowl had lots of chicken, carrots, and potatoes in a creamy, slightly sweet curry sauce. The amount of spice for my curry was marked as “sunny,” but I added a little of the hot chili oil from the Samosa to bring the heat up a little.
Everything was excellent. The prices for lunch with appetizer, a pot of green tea, and entree average about $15 - $17 per person, which is quite reasonable for food this good and restaurant this nice. Dinner is a little more, but also offers some additional items.
If you want that great Southern Californian experience with great views of Los Angeles and the coast, an historic airport, and a great restaurant, Typhoon at the Santa Monica Airport is the place to visit.
Typhoon is open for lunch Monday through Friday from noon to 3pm, and dinner Sunday through Thursday from 5:30pm to 10pm, Friday and Saturday until 11pm. Call 310-390-6565 for more information.
The material in this publication is for advisory information only and should not be relied upon for navigation, maintenance or flight techniques. SW Regional Publications and the staff neither assume any responsibility for the accuracy of this publication's content nor any liability arising fom it
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