The "Sepulveda" Approach

Posted 07/09/04

From Ona Gieschen

Turned up by Ona Gieschen, TWA’s unofficial "historian," this tale by Lee Flanagin recounts an approach in Ford Tri-Motor N-414H before launching a transcontinental trip in 1963 to recognize the 25th anniversary of the Civil Aeronautics Act. Lee was one of the original cadre of TWA pilots at predecessor Aero Corp. and he, along with retired Hostess Thelma Jean Hiatt, were serving as honorary crew. John Louck, the pilot-owner of the Ford and Flanagin were conducting a test hop from Burbank to Los Angeles International, when the LAX controllers became impatient with their low-and-slow approach mixed in with jet traffic:

"Do you have omni?" inquired LAX.

"Negative," Flanagin replied.

"Do you have a directional finder?"

"Negative."

"November 414, what are you using for navigation?"

"Just a compass," Flanagin advised.

"A compass? How are you going to find LAX?"

"Well," Flanagin growled, "before you started all those questions, we were just gonna follow Sepulveda Boulevard right into the airport."

N-414H was to cross the country again in 1985, when Scenic Airlines joined with the United States Travel and Tourism office and TWA to film a flight based on the 1929 Transcontinental air Transport (TAT) air-rail service, following the old TAT route ending at New York. TWA’s Ron Reynolds flew the Ford from Lancaster, Pa. to JFK, but there’s no record of his approach "profile."

Ona Gieschen (1946 – 1988) served in Advertising, Reservations and In Flight Services based at MKC, KIDL and STL.

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