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Operating into Los Alamos Municipal Airport (KLAM)


Why Fly Into Los Alamos?

LAM was selected for this presentation because it is a local airport (less than 25 nm from Santa Fe) that combines many operational aspects found at other non-towered fields, while also providing a number of unique considerations
Community has a rich history, of which the atomic bomb program is merely a small part, with several museums and cultural sites throughout the city and surrounding area. Pajarito Ski Area (a 30 minute drive from LAM) offers a fun fly-in skiing venue in winter Los Alamos is home to a large EAA Chapter that organizes many events, including an upcoming Young Eagles flight day on June 15. (

The Basics
Field Elevation 7,171 MSL Runway 9/27: 6000 x 120

1.5 degree upslope Rwy 27

CTAF: 123.0 AWOS-3: 124.175

All landings on Rwy 27, takeoffs on Rwy 9

Right traffic for Rwy 27 for go-arounds Radio communication REQUIRED R-5101 lies IMMEDIATELY south of runway

Continuous, from surface up to 12,000 MSL NE boundary begins immediately south of Runway 9/27 DO NOT FLY THERE! In addition to radar surveillance, spotters along boundary watch for straying aircraft

In addition to national security concerns, this Restricted Area is also in place due to explosives and munitions testing and, recently, UAV operations at Los Alamos National Labs

The Details
Location atop the Pajarito Plateau means frequent crosswinds, turbulence and updrafts 2-Light PAPI (3.00 degree GS) left of runway, windsock to the right Rwy 27 uphill, Rwy 9 downhill Traffic sequencing relies on position reports relative to local landmarks Quartering tailwinds are common, especially on landing Traffic departing Runway 9 lacks options for emergency landing

Flying into LAM from the South

Follow the river
Staying over the Rio Grande keeps you out of R-5101 and away from overflying the community of White Rock

First reporting point is the radio telescope at the far NE corner of Bandelier National Monument, south of the bend of Hwy 4
Telescope is 15 nm from runway threshold when following the described flight path

Flying into LAM from the South

Antenna dish may point in any position, including straight up It may help to identify White Rock first, then look down along the mesa ridge to find the telescope This telescope is part of the Very Large Baseline Array (VLBA) and one of 10 located across 5,351 miles in the CONUS and Hawaii. Another is located in Pie Town; the array is controlled from the Domenici Science Operations Center in Socorro

Flying into LAM from the South

Second reporting point is adjacent to the ball fields northeast of White Rock, along the edge of the mesa Multiple baseball, softball and soccer fields hard to miss! 10 nm from the airport when following the described flight path

Flying into LAM from the South

Third waypoint is the Otowi (AW-tah-wee) Bridge over the Rio Grande at NM Hwy 502 Highway bridge is north of the smaller Otowi suspension bridge, as described in The House at Otowi Bridge about Elizabeth Warner and the early days of the Los Alamos atomic bomb program. Bridges are ENE from the runway Turning inbound just south of bridges will put you on a 6 nm final for Rwy 27 Traffic must stay at least 5 nm east of airport until turning final to stay clear of R-5101

Flying into LAM from the North

First reporting point is Black Mesa, 5 nm south of Espanola and 9 nm from runway on the described flight path

Flying into LAM from the North

Second waypoint is the Otowi Bridge over the Rio Grande at NM Hwy 502
3 nm SW of Black Mesa, follow river to the bridge

Turn inbound south of bridges for a 6 nm straight-in approach to Rwy 27

Traffic must stay at least 5 nm east of airport until turning final to stay clear of R-5101

Flying into LAM on Final Approach

The final reporting point for both approaches is the Y formed by the intersection of NM Hwys 4 and 502. Minimum altitude at this point: 8,000 MSL (field elevation 7,171) 3 nm from runway

Flying into LAM on Short Final

Visual cues from up sloping terrain may result in lower than optimal approach path 2-light PAPI left of runway, 3.00 degree glideslope. Windsock at right 1.5 degree upslope Rwy 27, looking towards the end of the runway in the landing flare will assist with depth perception

Multiple buildings beneath and adjacent to approach path to Rwy 27

These obstructions will produce mechanical turbulence on final

Landing at LAM
Be prepared for changes in wind direction, velocity, and up/downdrafts through approach, touchdown and rollout Go around if you do not touch down within 1st third of runway (or the length of eight 200 centerline stripes) Tailwinds are common on landing if the tailwind component exceeds 10 knots, consider going somewhere else!

Parking at LAM
Limited parking and tie-down space available
Self-serve fuel (100LL) Courtesy car available on first-come, first-served basis Do not perform engine run-up west of terminal building for noise abatement

Taking off from LAM

All departures from Runway 9, 1.5 degree downslope at departure end Be prepared for crosswinds and quartering tailwinds on takeoff Fly 3 nm to Y at or below 7,500 MSL to avoid incoming traffic, then turn heading 045 (N departure) or 135 (S departure)

Taking off from LAM

Check density altitude! Frequently above 9,500 in summer If you havent broken ground on takeoff by halfway point, ABORT Lack of emergency landing options theres an emergency landing field immediately north of the runway in the canyon, but this has become overgrown with small trees, etc.

Why is Proper Reporting Important?

November 6, 2006: Two Beechcraft Bonanzas on approach to Runway 27 from the North
NTSB: Approximately 10 feet above the runway, the pilot [of top aircraft] began to initiate his landing flare when he heard a "clunk" sound. The airplane began what the pilot thought was his landing roll; however, his airplane was still 6 to 7 feet above the runway. The pilot then noticed his airplane begin to turn to the right and he attempted to correct to the left. Subsequently, the pilot observed another airplane underneath his airplane.

Why is Proper Reporting Important?

N102H landed on top of N5368E as the latter aircraft touched down on 27. Aircraft veered right and came to rest on runway - no injuries! NTSB determined both pilots were at fault for failing to maintain visual separation, adding that the pilot of N5368E was reporting his position on 122.8. What is the LAM CTAF, again?

Familiarize yourself with area before takeoff Know the proper reporting points and traffic callouts Verify youre on the correct CTAF! Be proficient in crosswind operations, taking into account that you may also need to take off and land with a quartering or direct tailwind Ensure your aircraft is well-maintained, and properly loaded for hot and high operations (again, there arent many options for an emergency landing)


This presentation was compiled from information and images courtesy of: FAA Los Alamos Airport ( Los Alamos Daily Post Google Maps AOPA Aero-News Network (