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How Do Pilots Take Off from Orange County?

While most cities have a run-of-the-mill takeoff protocol, Orange County’s John Wayne Airport does things quite differently. But why does this particular state have a unique departure profile?

Pilots taking off from the John Wayne Airport in Orange County California must cut their engines and pitch their nose down shortly after taking off. This is to reduce the amount of noise in the residential areas.

Orange County’s Unique Departure Profile: Exhilarating or Dreadful?

If you’ve ever experienced the joy or dread of taking off in a commercial plane from John Wayne Airport in Orange County, you know it’s a once-in-a-lifetime event. You will feel your stomach drop just seconds after takeoff as the aircraft makes a very abrupt pushover. This pushover will make you feel light in your seat, similar to what you might feel on a rollercoaster or a hilly backcountry road. Your seatbelt may even feel like it’s squeezing you.

The next thing you’ll notice is a change in the sounds in the cabin. They will, in particular, become much quieter. The roar of the engines that accompany all takeoffs will be significantly reduced. You will notice that the aircraft’s nose has dropped significantly. The incline, or deck angle, will have decreased from the usually steep angle used for most takeoffs to one that is barely distinguishable from level flight. And it will all appear to be happening much too close to the ground.

You may become aware of a bothersome thumping in your chest. Don’t be alarmed; that’s just your heart pounding. You may believe that this is the end of the game and wonder if you have enough time to send a final text message to your loved ones before plunging into the Pacific Ocean. But don’t worry, you’re safe. You will not perish. What you have just witnessed is referred to as a noise abatement takeoff. They happen hundreds of times per week at John Wayne and are FAA-approved and government-mandated maneuvers. If pilots and airlines do not perform this type of takeoff, they will be fined. (Source: AV Geekery)

What is the Reason Behind Such a Unique Departure Protocol? 

You may be wondering, why are you being subjected to an experience that should most likely be featured at the nearby Disney theme park? It’s actually quite simple; politics and, of course, noise. John Wayne Airport is the only one that requires such a drastic noise reduction profile. According to rumor, the Duke himself, the airport’s namesake, played a role in putting those restrictions in place.

The flight path from John Wayne Airport is nearly directly over Newport Beach. Newport Beach, as you may know, is a very wealthy community. Wealthy people are good at getting things done. Beginning with the arrival of the first turboprops and jets in the 1970s, community activism quickly followed. Lawsuits were eventually filed, and the restrictions were imposed. (Source: AV Geekery)

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