The military air space west of Los Angeles International Airport will remain closed longer than originally expected, officials said, meaning South L.A. residents will have at least a few more nights of late-night flyovers.
Originally scheduled to end Thursday, the closure has been extended until Sunday, the Federal Aviation Administration said. The mandate means that from midnight to 6:30 a.m., flights that normally fly in from the west over the ocean will instead fly in from the east, over thousands of residents.
The east-to-west landing pattern is standard for daylight hours, but it changes at night to limit the noise for residents west of the 110 Freeway and east of the airport, LAX officials said.
The change affects 50 to 55 commercial, cargo, military and private nightly flights, or about one landing every seven minutes, according to the FAA.
The only other time flights change their approach during the year is during Santa Ana winds, which typically occur 10 to 20 times a year, said LAX spokeswoman Nancy Castles.
Flights still can take off to the west and ascend over the ocean.
Although LAX officials notified the media about the change last week, Castles said her office didn’t receive a flood of questions about it until Saturday night, when people from San Diego County to the Bay Area noticed a mysterious white cone of light streaking across the night sky.
It was a test of an unarmed Trident II (D5) missile off the coast, the Navy said.
John Daniels, a public affairs officer for the Navy’s Strategic Systems Programs, said that the test Saturday and the others scheduled are classified and thus not announced in advance. Although notice was given to aviation officials and sailors in the area, it did not detail the exact time or location of the launch, he said.
Witnesses across Southern California and Arizona posted video on social media and reported seeing the light. Many used hashtags such as #ufo and #comet as they speculated about its source.
Video blogger Julien Solomita was on a rooftop parking lot in Van Nuys shooting traffic and sunset scenes when he looked up and saw a bright circle of light in the sky. He followed it with his camera and at one point, he said, it looked like it was exploding.
“For a brief moment, when the cloud got bigger, I was wondering, ‘Should we run?’ It looked so close,” he said.
The Trident II (D5) missile is a centerpiece of the U.S. military’s ability to deter a nuclear attack, and an ongoing effort to modernize the weapon is a top priority, he said.
Los Angeles Times staff writer W. J. Hennigan contributed to this report.
For breaking California news, follow @JosephSerna on Twitter.