The arrival to Brackett Field Airport (KPOC) takes you through the Pomona Valley south of the San Gabriel Mountains approximately 35nm east of LAX. Look down on the city of Baldwin Park and Interstate 10 and pay homage to the original location of In-N-Out Burger chain that opened in 1948. The San Bernardino Freeway (Interstate 10) built from downtown Las Angeles to the San Gabriel Valley, demolished this vital piece of fast food history. Take solace in the fact that a $100 Hamburger is minutes away.
The precision approaches to Runway 28L are a thing of beauty taking you down to just of 300 feet above TDZ. Even with the marine layer and urban smog drifting in from the west, Brackett rarely goes below landing minimums. Smooth air will accompany you down the glide slope allowing for a relatively worry-free landing. There’s a wonderful view of the sparkling Puddingstone Reservoir and the Pomona Raceway on final. After touch down, taxi to transient parking on the south side of the field just behind the main terminal complex and the long blue awning. The building contains a pilot shop, pilot’s lounge and Norm’s Hanger Coffee Shop, home of one of the best plane watching views anywhere.
For more than 25 years, Norm’s has offered American diner comfort food with a fantastic view of a fairly busy local strip. Run by Norm’s daughter Kathy Touche since 2004, the coffee shop is an institution. It has a lot going for it. First, patrons get to listen to Brackett Tower communicating with pilots over the restaurant sound system. Second, nearly every seat has a view of the action a few hundred feet away. Third, breakfast is served all day. Lastly, the LA County Fair Grounds with its ominous “Le Grande Wheel” are within walking distance from restaurant and airstrip.
Kathy supports as many local suppliers as possible. Her establishment is an old school diner that doesn’t make any excuses. This place is homey, friendly and seems to care about what and who it serves. Norm’s is a favorite hangout for flight instructors and their students conducting ground school over fluffy pancakes and juicy hamburgers. During fire season, you’ll find Erickson Aircrane 734 pilots and deputies from the Los Angeles Sheriff's Air Support Unit refueling their own tanks. On weekends, old time pilots can be seen passing the torch to the next generation of aviators.
Eggs and griddlecakes dominate the two-page breakfast menu for good reason. The Start ‘Em Up Breakfast section ($5.50- $9.75) basically allows you a choice of your favorite protein with two eggs, hash browns, home fries, fruit and choice of toast, tortilla, muffin, or ½ biscuit and gravy. “Protein” choices are varied and plentiful. Bacon, sausage or ham are staples. How about corned beef hash, a hamburger patty, Polish sausage, chicken fried steak, chorizo or a pork chop?