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Seeing the Pentagon when flying in from Chicago

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Gloucester, United...
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Seeing the Pentagon when flying in from Chicago

I will be flying into Washington DC's Ronald Reagan airport from Chicago and was wondering if anyone knew......

a) is it possible to see the Pentagon from the plane (it seems like we fly around it)

b) what side of the plane we should be sitting on to see it

I'm thinking it might be a bit of a dodgy question to ask when booking our seats as we would be flying on September 12th. Not sure how sensitive the airline staff might be about it

Cheers

DC
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1. Re: Seeing the Pentagon when flying in from Chicago

If you approach along the Potomac from the west (the River Approach), the Pentagon is on the right side of the plane very close to the airport. The view out of the other side is much better. The other approach is from the south and is used more often.

If you're flying UA and the pilot enables Channel 9, you may be able to determine which approach they're using for your flight.

Arlington, Virginia
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2. Re: Seeing the Pentagon when flying in from Chicago

As suggested by Eric, it all depends on the wind that day (and/or noise restrictions, depending on the hour). If you come in from the North / West along the river, you should have a very good view from the right side of the plane about 30 seconds prior to touchdown.

If you come up from the south, you won't have a view from either side of the plane (except if it is a very clear day AND they bring you in high over Arlington before banking south towards towards Mount Vernon, and then back up towards the North; on that route you'll see it off in the distance from the left side of the plane about five minutes before landing).

Alexandria, Virginia
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3. Re: Seeing the Pentagon when flying in from Chicago

It seems to me you generally get a better view when you are departing DC since the planes usally head West over the Pentagon. I want to say it's on the left, but perhaps others would recall better. The approach to Washington is generally the one coming North from Mount Vernon.

Olney, Maryland
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4. Re: Seeing the Pentagon when flying in from Chicago

Not true! You never know which way planes will be going. It's about 50-50 which way it's going. The Airport chooses one of two possibilities for its one runway: Land northwest to south and take off to the south, OR Land south to north and take off to the northwest..

If it happens to be the first, then you see it when landing on your right. If it's the second, you see if taking off on your left. The planes fly over the Potomac River and the Pentagon is on the southwest side of the river.

If all planes took off going north, then not too many people would be as interested in watching the planes land from Gravelly Point Park, which is north of National Airport

Sometimes you can see the green roof on the Lincoln Memorial, too, on the northeast side of the river.

Arlington, Virginia
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5. Re: Seeing the Pentagon when flying in from Chicago

If you are taking off to the north, the Pentagon will be on the left. But whether they take off north or south varies by time of day, prevailing wind, and probably other factors. For what it's worth my office window happens to face the flight path near Rosslyn, so I get to see the planes coming and going all week long. I've never counted or kept a log, but I'd estimate they spend about 60% of the time taking off towards the North, and about 40% of the time taking off towards the south.

6. Re: Seeing the Pentagon when flying in from Chicago

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