Whether you're a planespotter or a jet-setter, most aircraft you get to see are actually in the sky... and in one piece.
On this Atlas Obscura adventure with Field Agent Sandi Hemmerlein, you'll get up close and personal with a variety of aircraft at eye-level—and maybe even before they're assembled!
We'll start our journey by taking a tour of the Robinson Helicopter Company, a factory which was designed and built specifically for manufacturing non-military helicopters for the civilian market. Whether it's a newscaster, a police helicopter, or just a lightweight, affordable chopper for personal use, Robinson helicopter models have broken records in both speed and altitude. In fact, in 1997, the first woman to ever circumnavigate the globe in a helicopter did it successfully in the Robinson model R-44.
And the first "whirlybird" that the company designed, tested, and produced in 1979, the R-22, is still in production (and in flight) today.
Equipped with state-of-the-art machinery, most manufacturing operations happen right here at their Torrance Airport facility, including production, assembly, and testing. Depending on the production schedule of the day, we may witness anything from welding and machining to painting, avionics, and more.
Each attendee will receive their own commemorative souvenir to take home!
While we're at the historic airport—on the site of the old Weston Ranch, which became the Lomita Flight Strip used by the U.S. Air Force during World War II—we'll also stop by the Western Museum of Flight, operated by the Southern California Historical Aviation Foundation.
The museum is dedicated to preserving and displaying aircraft history and artifacts of Southern California's aviation heritage—and their collection includes numerous Warbirds like a Douglas A-4A Skyhawk, a Grumman F-14A "Tomcat," and the 1942 Northrop JB-1 "Bat" World War II "Buzz Bomb," one of only three of Jack Northrop's flying wings left in the world.
We'll also get to peruse their collection of World War II-era instruments; aircrew accessories, aircraft engines, components, and ejection seats, plus an extensive model aircraft collection.
Notes for this adventure:
- Please note this tour occurs on a weekday afternoon, specifically on a Thursday. The factory and museum are located in Torrance, approximately 25 miles south of Downtown Los Angeles. Leave plenty of time for traffic.
- Please arrive promptly at 12:45 to check in and get equipped with safety gear before our tour starts at 1 pm.
- All attendees must wear CLOSED-TOED SHOES and LONG PANTS. No shorts or skirts!
- Please be advised that the tour involves a considerable amount of walking.
- No Children under the age of 12. All minors must be accompanied by a ticketed adult.
- Photography will only be permitted in the flight-test hangar and not during the super-secret factory tour.
- Please note this is an active manufacturing facility with potentially loud sounds, strong smells, sharp objects, and other things that could put you in harm's way or make you uncomfortable. Please keep your hands to yourselves so you can walk out with as many fingers as you walked in with.
- No food / drink or smoking.
- Handicap Accessible, although wheelchairs are not provided. Please let us know about any special needs when you purchase your ticket.
- Let us know if you plan to arrive by aircraft (which, technically, you could do).
- There are 2 stops on this tour that are very close to each other. You will provide your own transportation between the 1st and 2nd stops.
- A signed liability waiver will be required from all attendees.
Advance Tickets Only. All Sales Final. No Refunds or Exchanges.
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