Aviation in Early Los Angeles

Historical Photos of Aviation in L.A.
1 2 3 / next / single page
 
(1910)* - Composite photograph of early-model biplanes, a monoplane, a dirigible, and a hot-air balloon passing by bleachers filled with spectators at the 1910 Dominguez Field Air Meet.  

 

Historical Notes

The Los Angeles International Air Meet (January 10 to January 20, 1910) was among the earliest airshows in the world and the first major airshow in the United States. It was held in Los Angeles County, California at Dominguez Field in present day Carson, California. Spectator turnout numbered approximately 254,000 over 11 days of ticket sales. The Los Angeles Times called it "one of the greatest public events in the history of the West”.*^

 

 

 
(1910)^* - Photograph of dirigible race in the Dominguez Air Meet, Dominguez Field, Los Angeles, 1910. Two football-shaped zeppelins race across the skies, flying at low altitude. Each of them has single pilots. The pilots stand on a skeletal structure consisting of metal bars that is attached to the balloon with wires. Spectators (or judges) stand below on the plain field watching the zeppelins race. Further in the sky is a hot-air balloon with the phrase "all in the Examiner."  

 

Historical Notes

Following the Reims International Air Meet of 1909 (France) enthusiasm for aviation began to increase in the United States. At an aviation meet in St. Louis fellow enthusiasts discussed the possibility of holding an air meet in Los Angeles. This group, which included Charles Willard, Roy Knabenshue, and Glenn Curtiss, followed through on the proposed project and sent Dick Ferris to Los Angeles to make the preliminary contacts and finalize the plans for the proposed Air Meet. After arriving in Los Angeles Ferris met with various contacts and an International Air Meet was proposed which would include Louis Paulhan-a renowned French aviator. The location was selected, Dominguez Field, which was part of one of the original Spanish land grants-The Rancho San Pedro. - Peter Bergen^*

This site, Dominguez Hill Field, as been designated as California Historical Landmark No. 718. Click HERE to see more of California Historical Landmarks in LA.

 

 

 
(1910)* - Lincoln Beachey is seen flying an airship; the number "2" can be seen on the rudder.  

 

Historical Notes

An airship or dirigible is a type of aerostat or "lighter-than-air aircraft" that can be steered and propelled through the air using rudders and propellers or other thrust mechanisms. Unlike aerodynamic aircraft such as fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters, which produce lift by moving a wing through the air, aerostatic aircraft stay aloft by having a large "envelope" filled with a gas which is less dense than the surrounding atmosphere. The first lifting gas used was hydrogen, although this had well-known concerns over its flammability. Helium was rare in most parts of the world, but large amounts were discovered in the USA. This meant that this non-flammable gas was rarely used for airships outside of the USA. All modern airships, since the 1960s, use helium.*^

 

 

 
(1910)* - Hamm's (otherwise unidentified) balloon in front of the grand stand of the 1st Aviation Meet. On the ground are three concentric rectangles serving as take-off and landing area.  

 

Historical Notes

There were two International Aviation Meets held at Dominguez Field, Los Angeles. The first ran from Jan. 10-20, 1910; the second from Dec. 24-30, 1910-Jan. 1 and 3, 1911.*

 

 

 
(1910)* - Thousands watch a biplane in low flight over Dominguez Field.
 

 

Historical Notes

An estimated 254,000 tickets were sold, and gate receipts were roughly $137,500. During the time the meet was running, streetcars ran to Dominguez Fields every 2 minutes from the Pacific Electric station in Los Angeles. The great crowd turn-out, averaging more than 20,000 spectators per day, made it possible to return $1.25 to "the subscribers to the aviation fund for every dollar advanced". Probably not the only future-notable person to see the show, 9-year-old Florence Leontine Lowe, later better known as "Pancho" Barnes, was brought by her grandfather, aviation pioneer Thaddeus S. C. Lowe. It was here that she was inspired to begin her own later career in aviation.*^

 

 

 
(1910)* - Aerial view of Dominguez Field with biplane flying low over a large crowd of spectators. Note the extent of open space in the background behind the stands.  

 

 

 

 
(1910)^* - Photograph of aviator Louis Paulhan making his record flight at the Dominguez Hills Air Meet, 1910. Paulhan's Farman airplane is climbing at low altitude at left. It is a biplane with a biplanar tail and a canard fore plane. There is no real fuselage, and the aircraft is held together with wooden beams. A large crowd is gathered and is seated in bleachers at right. There is an American flag hanging at the top of the grandstands. A small group of people is standing around at table in the foreground at right.  

 

Historical Notes

Over the ten-day period of the air meet spectators were thrilled by the performances of aviators Louis Paulhan, Glenn Curtiss, Charles Willard, and others. Paulhan was the 'star attraction' at the air meet. Invited by the organizers to participate, Paulhan brought with him to the event two Bleriot Monoplanes, Two Farman Biplanes, and an entourage, which included his wife and black poodle dog.^*

 

 

 
(1910)* - Nine famous aviators at Dominguez Field. From left to right: 1. Hilary Beachey; 2. Col. Johnson (FH or FR); 3. Glenn H. Curtiss; 4. Louis Paulhan; 5. Charles F. Willard; 6. Didier Masson; 7. Lincoln Beachey; 8. Roy Knabenshue; 9. Charles K. Hamilton.  

 

Historical Notes

The 1910 Air Meet drew many famous aviators, most of whom were American. Glenn Curtiss, American aviation pioneer and founder of the Curtiss Aeroplane and Motor Company was the most famous. Other participants included Roy Knabenshue, Charles Willard, Lincoln Beachey and Charles K. Hamilton, Howard Warfield Gill, and Clifford B. Harmon, many of whom are listed among the Early Birds of Aviation. French aviators at the event included Louis Paulhan and Didier Masson.

The Wright brothers did not take part in the event, but were there with their lawyers in an attempt to prevent Paulhan and Curtiss from flying. The Wrights claimed that the ailerons on their aircraft infringed patents. Notwithstanding their allegations, Paulhan and Curtis still made flights. As part of the larger Wright brothers' patent cases, the Wrights actually won monetary damages in U.S. courts for Paulhan's public performances that day.*^

 

 

 

 
(1910)^* - Elmer Cooke at the controls of a Curtiss biplane at the Dominguez Hills Air Meet. Cooke is at center and is facing the right. He is holding a control wheel in front of him and his other hand is reaching for another control. He is wearing a heavy jacket and gloves, as well as a hat with ear covers and goggles. His plane is a biplane with canvas-covered wings and the engine is mounted directly behind the pilot. There are two men holding a long rod attached to the plane at left, and another biplane is visible in the distance at right.  

 

 

 

 

 
(1910)^* - Photograph of Louis Paulhan making his record flight, flying at 4,600 feet, in his Henry Farman biplane, Dominguez Field, Los Angeles, January 12, 1910. Paulhan is sitting at the center of the front wings in this primitive biplane. He holds onto the nearest supporting bar as he pilots the airplane. The nose is triangular shaped with a wing (or flap) in the center of the nose. A propeller spins just below the wings and between the two pairs of landing wheels. The rear of the plan consists of two square wings with a flap that runs perpendicular to the wings.  

 

Historical Notes

At the air meet Louis Paulhan set a new altitude record (4164 ft.), endurance record (64 miles in 1 hr. 49 mins. 40 secs.), and won $14,000 in prize money. Glenn Curtiss won two events-fastest speeds with a passenger (55 mph) and quickest start (6 2/5 secs. covering 98 ft.). Curtiss took home $6500 in prize money. Charles Willard was credited with the most accurate takeoff and landing skills for which he receive a prize totaling $250.^*

 

 

 
(1910)^* - View of the airfield at the Dominguez Hills Airmeet. W.R. Brookins is shown airborne in his Wright Model A biplane, which is visible in the right sky as it executes a turn. Two other biplanes are visible on the ground. A group of five people can be seen standing around the plane on the left, while a lone pilot stands near the plane on the right. In the foreground at the center of the picture, two people are walking towards the grounded planes. On the horizon, two more small groups of people can be seen.  

 

 

 

 
(1910)* - Lincoln Beachy landing a biplane on Dominguez Field.
 

 

 

 

 
(1910)^* - Louis Paulhan flying with a passenger (Mrs. Dick Ferris?) in his Henry Farman biplane, at the Dominguez Field Air Meet, Los Angeles, January 1910.  

 

 

 

 
(1910)* - Charles K. Hamilton at the controls of a plane on the ground.
 

 

 

 

 
(1910)* - Biplane in flight low above the ground, possibly during take-off.  

 

 

 

 
(1910)* - Charles F. Willard in a Curtiss aircraft "Golden Flyer" during landing at the 1st Meet, January, 1910. Aircraft had 4 cylinders, 22-25 hp and a speed of 40 mph.  

 

 

 

 
(1910)* - Louis Paulhan and his wife are shown during take-off in their Farman biplane during the 1st Meet in January, 1910.  

 

Historical Notes

Paulhan gave William Randolph Hearst his first experience of flight. However, William Boeing, who had been enthused by the new invention of the airplane, was unable to get a ride on any aircraft at the air meet. While attending the first American Air Meet in Los Angeles, Boeing asked nearly every aviator for a ride, but no one said yes except Louis Paulhan. For three days Boeing waited, but on the 4th day he discovered Paulhan had already left the meet. Possibly, one of the biggest missed opportunities in Paulhan's life was the ride he never gave Boeing.*^

 

 

 

 
(1910)* - Louis Paulhan and his wife are shown in flight in their Farman biplane.  

 

 

 

 

 
(1910)* - Spectators watch as Louis Paulhan flies a Bleriot monoplane at the nation's first Air Meet.  

 

 

 

 

 
(1910)* - A monoplane and a balloon are seen against the sky.  

 

 

 

 

 

 
(1910)* - Side view of a monoplane. Men are gathered around, gazing at the plane, including one holding a camera.  

 

 

 

 

 

 
(1910)* - A close-up of the propellor and front end of a French monoplane on the Dominguez Airfield.
 

 

 

 

 
(1910)* - Professor J.S. Zerbe stands in front of his multiplane, an 8 cylinder, aircooled airplane, with 5 planes and 2 props.  

 

Historical Notes

One of the more unusual planes seen at the Dominguez Air Show was Los Angeles resident Jerome Slough Zerbe's so-called "Multi-plane,"  a construction which boasted five separate "planes" of wings attached to an elaborate chassis. Unfortunately for Zerbe, his creation hit a hole in the field and collapsed during take-off, ruining several of the wings and making filght impossible.*^

 

 

 
(1910)* - Professor Zerbe's multiplane is attempting to take-off on Dominguez Field, with a hot air balloon in flight in the background.  

 

 

 

 
(1910)* - This photograph depicts the aftermath of Zerbe's multiplane crash just after it hit a hole on the runway during its take-off attempt.  

 

 

 

 
(1910)^*# - View showing two men running toward the “multiplane” after its crash.  

 

 

 

 

 
(1910)* - Five different modes of transportation are shown: airplane, balloon, blimp, horseback riding and a team of oxen pulling a wagon. All this in front of a large audience at the first U.S. International Air Meet.  

 

 

 

 

 
(1910)^* - A composite photograph of early-model biplanes, a monoplane, a dirigible, and a hot-air balloon hovering above or flying by bleachers filled with spectators at the 1910 Dominguez Field Air Meet, January 1910. Most of the spectators have their head turned to the right, including people who are seated beyond the planes that are passing overhead. "All in the Examiner" is an advertisement that is painted on the hot-air balloon (at left). Flags are placed at intervals at the top of the bleachers. Caption reads: "Great Aviation Meet, L.A.".  

 

 

 

South Pasadena (Raymond Hotel)

 
(1905)#* - View of Roy Knabenshue landing his dirigible on the Raymond Hotel grounds, surrounded by a large crowd of people.  

 

Historical Notes

A. Roy Knabenshue made outstanding contributions to aviation as an aeronaut making balloon flights. He was among the first to pilot a steerable balloon, one of the pilots of the first successful American dirigible, a builder and exhibitor of dirigibles of his own design, manager of the Wright Brothers’ Exhibition Team, and a leading builder of observation balloons during World War I. ^***

 

 

 
(ca. 1910s)* - View of the second Raymond Hotel looking across the grounds at the western facade, the main entrance to the hotel. In the background are the San Gabriel Mountains.  

 

Historical Notes

Located atop Bacon Hill, renamed Raymond Hill, which lies between Pasadena and South Pasadena, the first Raymond Hotel burned down in 1895 and was replaced by a second in 1903.*

Click HERE to see more in Early Views of Pasadena.

 

 

 
(1913)#* - A view showing Roy Knabenshue flying his new multi-passenger dirigible with the Raymond Hotel in the background. There are people in the undercarriage which runs the length of the airship.  

 

Historical Notes

Roy Knabenshue was the first to make a dirigible balloon flight over the skyscrapers of New York back in 1905, one year after his original lighter-than- air powered flight at the St. Louis Exposition. After several years of barnstorming and a stretch as general manager for the Wright Brothers, he went west and built a 13-passenger airship in Pasadena for passenger flights. ^***

 

 

 

 
(1913)**** - Roy Knabenshue flying his 13-passenger dirigible over the Raymond Hotel. He offered aerial tours of the City of Pasadena.  

 

 

 

Burdette Airport

 
(1925)* - Aerial view of Burdette Airport, located at 9401 S. Western Avenue at the intersection of 94th Street and Western Avenue in what is now Inglewood.  

 

Historical Notes

Burdette Field was home to the famous stunt team, "The Black Cats", a company of Los Angeles-based stunt pilots in the 1920's.*

 

 

 

 
(1928)* - View of a large crowd standing near hangars as a plane takes off at Burdette Field.  

 

Historical Notes

The Burdette School of Aviation was established in 1925 by Burdette Fuller and partner Jack Frye to create a base for Burdette Airlines. Eventually Fuller sold the field to Jack Frye, who founded Aero Corp, which later became TWA. Charles Dycer bought the field from Jack Frye in the late 1920s, renaming thge field Dycer Airport.*

 

 

 

 
(n.d.)*# - An illustration of a performance of the "Black Cats" at the Burdette Airport.  

 

Historical Notes

The Black Cats were involved with motion pictures and received lots of publicity in the 1920's. Footage of the Black Cats doing their various stunts appeared in many early movies.*^

 

 

 

 
(1928)* - A Siemens tri-motor (one at the propeller; one on each side) Brown Mercury plane at Burdette Field.  

 

Historical Notes

Designed by Larry Brown and built in 1927 by the Brown Mercury Aircraft Co. of Los Angeles, the craft was of conventional construction with a wire-graced welded steel tube fuselage, welded steel tube tail surfaces, and a wooden wing, all of which were covered in fabric. The market for this type of plane was small and although reports indicate that it was a good flying machine, production of the aircraft was discontinued during the Great Depression.*

 

 

Mercury Aviation (DeMille Field #1)

 
(1920s)* - View of the original Mercury Aviation Field located on the southwest corner of Fairfax Avenue and Melrose Avenue, across the street from where Fairfax High School stands today.  

 

Historical Notes

Cecil B. DeMille founded the Mercury Aviation Company (aka Mercury Air Lines ) in 1919. Mercury was the first American airlines to carry air freight and passengers commercially on regularly scheduled runs. It scheduled service to Santa Catalina Island and San Diego, later San Francisco, with Junker-Larsen JL-6 monoplanes. Inaugurated five months before KLM began operations in Europe.^^

 

 

 
(ca. 1925)^* - Photograph of an advertisement for Mercury Aviation Company, located at DeMille Field.  

 

Historical Notes

At the time there were three DeMille Fields in Los Angeles. A bi-plane with people looking out the windows is depicted centrally. Above are the words, "Flying", in large block letters with wings atached and the words "The New Industry". Below, a map features Los Angeles with arrows pointing three different directions, each with one of the following locations, San Diego, San Francisco, and Chicago. Further below is what appears to be a silhouette of an industrial city with smoke stacks, powerlines, and oil derricks, with the words "Mercury Avation Co., De Mille Field, Los Angeles, California".

Photoprint reads: "As illustrated in the picture, DeMille operated three fields in the LA area. #2 (not shown) was north of the Wilshire/Fairfax intersection. At the time (early 1920s), DeMille was the largest aviation operator in the LA area and his thoughts began to turn toward the establishment of a scheduled airline to San Francisco and San Diego".^*

 

 

Chaplin - Rogers Airport (DeMille Field #2)

 
(1920)^* - Aerial view looking southeast on crowds at Sid Chaplin's airport at the intersection of Wilshire Boulevard and Crescent Avenue (now Fairfax Avenue). Dozens of cars are parked in rows in the foreground, with several airplanes parked behind them in the more open field, around which crowds of people move about. A vendor tent is visible farther up the image, near more parked cars. A billboard to the left reads "Racine Tires".  

 

Historical Notes

Chaplin Airport opened in 1918 as Chaplin Airdrome. About 1920 it was called Rogers Airport when it came under the ownership of Emery H. Rogers, owner of Rogers Aircraft Inc.*

Sid Chaplin, the original owner, was also Charlie Chaplin's brother.^*

 

 

 
(n.d.)*# - An undated painting by Ted Grohs of Omar Locklear during a headstand on the wing of a Jenny above the De Mille & Chaplin Airports on Wilshire Boulevard & Crescent Avenue (now Fairfax Avenue).  

 

Historical Notes

Chaplin Airport (also known as Chaplin Airdrome) became Rogers Airport circa 1920.

 

 

 
(1920)^* - Aerial view of the intersection of Wilshire Boulevard and Fairfax Avenue looking north during an aviation fair. Automobiles are parked off the roads at the fringes of the open fields that skirt them. Oil fields are visible along with mountains in the background, while at center, people crowd around a collection of airplanes that are situated next to small vendor booths. In a field in the left background, a building shows a sign which reads "Mercury Aviation Company".  

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1922)^^#^ - Ground view of Rogers Airfield on the northwest corner of Fairfax and Wilshire. The Mercury Aviation Company sign can be seen on a hangar in the upper left of photo. Oil derricks can be seen in the background.  

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1919)^*# - View looking northeast showing the Rogers Airfield at Fairfax and Wilshire. Three planes sit on the field in the foreground while a blimp hovers just beyond them. Oil derricks belonging to the Gilmore family are seen in the background.  

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1922)^#^# - View looking north over the wing of a plane showing the intersection of Crescent Ave (Fairfax) and Wilshire Blvd. A crowded airfield is seen below. In the distance oil derricks straddle Fairfax where 6th Street is located today. In the far background at the foothills can be seen a built-up Hollywood.  

 

 

 

 
(1920)* - Aerial view of Crescent Avenue (later Fairfax) and Wilshire Boulevard showing undeveloped land with many oil derricks as far as the eye can see. Wilshire is the tree-line street running from lower left to upper right in the photo while Crescent Avenue runs from upper left to lower right. Rogers Airfield can be seen in the northwest corner of Wilshire and Crescent Ave.  

 

 

 

 

 
(1922)*# - View looking west down Wilshire Boulevard at Crescent Avenue (later Fairfax Ave). Rogers Airfield can be seen in the lower right on the northwest corner of Wilshire and Crescent. The diagonal street would become San Vicente Boulevard.  

 

 

 

 

 
(1922)* - Aerial view of Carthay Center, looking west across field of the first Rogers Airport at Wilshire Boulevard and Fairfax Avenue (lower right of photo). Wilshire Boulevard is the tree-lined street seen in the center of the image. The diagonal line running from lower left to upper right is the San Vicente line of the Pacific Electric Railway, later to become San Vicente Boulevard.  

 

Historical Notes

In 1922, J. Harvey McCarthy developed an upscale residential district along the San Vicente Boulevard line of the Pacific Electric Railway, bounded by Wilshire Blvd. on the north, Fairfax Avenue on the east, Olympic Blvd. on the south and Schumacher Drive on the west. McCarthy originally named the district Carthay Center (Carthay being a derivative of the developer's last name). The areas to the south of Olympic Boulevard remained undeveloped until 1933, when developer Spyros George Ponty built several hundred homes in two districts later named "South Carthay" and "Carthay Square." *^

 

 

 
(ca. 1922)^#^# - View looking north shows numerous cars parked on a lot (center of photo) near the airfield as well as along Wilshire Blvd. and Crescent Ave (Fairfax). Large sign on building in the lower-right center at the intersection of Fairfax and the San Vicente line of the Pacific Electric Railway reads: Albers Oats.  

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1920)^#^# - Parking lot is full as crowds attend what appears to be an air show. The sign on top of the structure with the large American Flag reads: De Mille Field No. 2  

 

Historical Notes

Chaplin Airport (De Mille Field No. 2) opened in 1918 and was also known as Chaplin Airdrome. About 1920 it was called Rogers Airport when it came under the ownership of Emery H. Rogers, owner of Rogers Aircraft Inc.*

 

 

 
(1922)^* - View of Rogers Airport, located at the corner of Wilshire Boulevard and Crescent Ave (now Fairfax), looking west toward the general office and hangars. Rogers Airport sits in the center ground, with a large sign reading "Rogers Airport. The Center of West Coast America. Fly City and Cross Country Flights. Instruction" at the right edge of the image. The small clapboard building at the left edge of the image bears a sign reading "General Offices. Rogers Aircraft Inc." Two men stand on the building's steps, one of whom may be Jim Webster, the airport manager. Two airplanes sit at center, in the open land behind the sign, while the hangar sits in the left background.  

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1922)^* - Airplane parked at Rogers Airport with Rogers Aircraft Incorporated building in the background.  

 

 

 

Arcadia Balloon School - Ross Field

 
(ca. 1918)^* - Photograph of a large airship being held down by men, perhaps at a military "balloon school" in Arcadia, ca.1918. Hovering several feet above the ground, the airship tilts toward the left slightly. Below it to the right, several people hold onto a rope connected to the ship, anchoring it. Behind the people are a series of barrack-like buildings. Beyond this, an arborous area can be seen, followed by the mountains in the distance.  

 

Historical Notes

Opened in 1918, the Arcadia Balloon School was built to train U.S. Army balloon observation troops for World War I. Before any graduates arrived in Europe, the war ended.^^#

 

 

 
(ca. 1918)^* - View of a large airship being held down by cables as spectators surround it at a "balloon school" in Arcadia. The aircraft hovers slightly above the ground, pointing right, with several passengers on board. A crowd of spectators gathers around the craft, and two young girls in light-colored dresses and bonnets stand in the foreground. Several men on the left pull a cable to keep the ship on the ground. A structure is visible in the distance, while the foreground is composed of a grassy field. The background is neutral.  

 

Historical Notes

In November 1918, the base was renamed Ross Field, honoring Lt. Cleo J. Ross of the U.S. Army 8th Balloon Company, killed in action in France. U.S. Army balloon operations continued at Ross Field for a few years, but by the mid-1920s, the base was closed. Today it’s the site of Arcadia County Park and Golf Course.^^#

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1918)^* - View of four dirigibles at the balloon school in Arcadia, ca.1918. The four large airships can be seen lined up across the image. They are floating low to the ground and are tethered down by large ropes. Uniformed soldiers can be seen on the ground beneath the large balloons. In the background, a line of tall trees stretches across the image, while tall mountains can be seen further in the distance.  

 

 

 

 

 
(1921)^^# - Three U.S. Army balloons prepare for launch from Ross Field.  

 

 

 

Brand Field (Glendale)

 
(ca. 1920)* - View of El Miradero and estate grounds, once home to Leslie C. Brand. Three vehicles are seen parked next to one another where the driveway and path to the front door meet. Brand built an airfield on his property to fly in guests for his elaborate partys.  

 

Historical Notes

Born in Missouri in 1859, Leslie Coombs Brand became the sole provider for his family at age 11. In 1886, Brand came to California to take advantage of its first boom period.

Brand was a major figure in the settlement and economic growth of the Glendale area. He had purchased land on the lower slopes of Mount Verdugo overlooking the city, and in 1904 built an imposing residence that became known as Brand Castle (aka El Miradero), which today houses the Brand Library. He also built his own private airfield.*^

 

 

 
(1921)^ - An aerial view of L. C. Brand's airfield in front of his home, El Miradero in Glendale. The airplanes took off downhill toward Kenneth Road.   

 

Historical Notes

Brand established a grassy, well-manicured airfield in front of the mansion. The airfield consisted of a 1,200' rolled dirt runway, with a white hangar at one end and a putting green on the other. The hangar matched the architectural style of the mansion - with turrets atop each of the 4 corners.*#

 

 

 
1923)*# – Aerial view looking north at Brand Field, showing the hangar and 10 aircraft on the field, and the mansion across the street. Note the steep terrain – obviously takeoffs to the north wouldn't be advisable.  

 

Historical Notes

Only 3 aircraft are known to have been actually based at Brand Field.  However, Brand apparently bought many war surplus Jennies, some to tinker with and fly as a sport, although most languished in storage buildings.*#

 

 

 
(ca. 1920s)^**^ – View of Brand Airfield from ground level.  Both the Moorish-style mansion and hangar can be seen in the distance.  

 

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1920s)*# – View of millionaire Leslie C. Brand mowing the lawn in front of the Moorish-style hangar at his private Airfield.  

 

Historical Notes

Brand built his first hangar in 1916 and put together a fleet of planes, and held fly-in parties. The only requirement was that guests had to arrive in their own planes and bring passengers.*^

 

 

 

 

 
(1921)^**^ – Several airplanes and guests arriving at Brand's fly-in luncheon party on April 1, 1921. El Miradero Mansion is seen in the background.  

 

 

 

 
(1921)^**^ – View of Leslie C. Brand and pilots at fly-in party.  

 

Historical Notes

Leslie C. Brand helped develop the city of Glendale.  Together with Henry E. Huntington, he brought Pacific Electric to the town to develop it. The 'Brand Library' section of the Glendale Public Library is named in his honor. Brand Boulevard in Glendale is also named in his honor.*^

 

 

 

 
(1921)^**^ – View of Leslie C. Brand is his plane preparing to take off at Brand Airfield.  

 

Historical Notes

Brand Field was no longer depicted on a 1931 street map, but “Brand Park” was depicted, so the airfield may have ceased operation by that point.*#

 

 

Vail Field (Montebello)

 
(1926)^#* - Typically for its day, Vail Field featured unpaved runways. Unlike many of the smaller airfields, it did have hangars for storing planes, and it was used for some commercial flights. The hangars were basically gambrel-roofed barns with an open end. The smoothly curved Quonset roof seen on many hangars did not come about until World War II.  

 

Historical Notes

Vail Field was historically important as one of the first airmail contractors. Western Air Express, had its origins there. Western Air Express was incorporated during 1926 by Los Angeles entrepreneurs for the purpose of bidding on airmail contracts to be awarded under the 1925 Kelly Air Mail Act which provided for the transfer of airmail routes from the Post Office's Aerial Mail Service to private carriers.*^

 

 

 
(1926)^* - Photograph of pilots readying an aircraft for the first air mail flight by Western Air Express, April 17, 1926. A line of four identical Douglass M-2 biplanes starts at center and extends into the distance at left. In front of the foremost plane, a group of men is standing near a pile of large mail sacks, and still more people are standing in front of a large mail truck at right. The truck is an early-model vehicle with a cargo area enclosed with wire. The ground is covered with rough grass.  

 

Historical Notes

Western Air Express initially purchased six Santa Monica-built Douglas M-2 mail planes. They also purchased land to build the airport from some well-known cattle ranchers, the Vail brothers.*^

 

 

 
(1927)^* - Photograph of the Inauguration of the Air Express Service of the American Railway Express Company at Vail Field, August 31, 1927. Two men in suits stand at the back of the truck at center with packages to be transferred to the pilot, Maurice Graham. The small plane stands at right with "Western Air Express" printed on its back side. The air field lies in the background.  

 

 

 

 
(1927)*#* - Charles Lindbergh flying the Spirit of St. Louis on his tour of the U.S., September 1927.  

 

Historical Notes

In 1927, Charles Lindbergh landed The Spirit of St. Louis at the Vail Field while on a nationwide tour following his transatlantic flight (May 21, 1927).

The Spirit of St. Louis was powered by a Wright Whirlwind J-5C 223-hp radial engine, and had a 46-foot wingspan.*^

 

 

 
(1927)*#* - Charles Lindbergh in his Spirit of Saint Louis preparing to land as spectators waive.  

 

Historical Notes

On June 1st, 1927, the U.S Post Office issued a commemorative 10-cent "Lindbergh Air Mail" stamp depicting the Spirit over a map of its flight from New York to Paris, and which was also the first stamp issued by the post office that bore the name of a living person.*^

 

 

 
(1927)*#* - Charles Lindbergh in front of the Spirit of St. Louis.  

 

Historical Notes

Charles Augustus Lindbergh (1902-1974), an Army reserve officer and U.S. Air Mail pilot gained instant world fame when on May 21, 1927, he flew solo on a non-stop flight from Roosevelt Field on Long Island to Le Bourget Field in Paris in the single-seat, single-engine monoplane named the "Spirit of St. Louis". Because of this historic exploit, Lindbergh - nicknamed "Lucky Lindy" and "The Lone Eagle", was awarded the Medal of Honor, the nation's highest military decoration. In his later years, Charles Lindbergh became a prize-winning author, international explorer, inventor, and active environmentalist.*

Lindbergh's New York-to-Paris flight made him an instant celebrity and media star. In winning the Orteig Prize, Lindbergh stirred the public's imagination. He wrote: "I was astonished at the effect my successful landing in France had on the nations of the world. It was like a match lighting a bonfire." *^

 

 

 

 

 
(1927)*#* - Three men are in the process of fueling the Spirit of St. Louis.  

 

Historical Notes

The Spirit of St. Louis had a fuel capacity of 450 U.S. gallons or 2,385 pounds which was necessary in order to have the range to make the transatlantic non-stop flight. The large main fuel tank was placed in the forward section of the fuselage, in front of the pilot, which improved the center of gravity. While locating fuel tanks at the front reduced the risk of the pilot's being crushed to death in the event of a crash, this design decision also meant that there could be no front windshield, and that forward visibility would be limited to side windows only. A periscope was installed to provide a forward view, as a precaution against hitting ship masts, trees, or structures while flying at low altitude. Lindbergh also used special navigation instruments such as the Earth Inductor Compass as its main instrument, allowing Lindbergh to navigate while taking account of the magnetic declination of the earth.*^

 

 

 

 
(1927)*#* - Mechanic priming propeller of the Spirit of St. Louis as Charles Lindbergh prepares to take off to continue his goodwill tour.  

 

Historical Notes

After his historic May 1st, 1927 transatlantic flight, Lindbergh flew the Spirit on promotional and goodwill tours across the United States and Latin America for over 10 months.*^

 

 

 
(1927)* - Charles Lindbergh and an unidentified man stand next to a Lockheed Air Express at Vail Field in Montebello.  

 

Historical Notes

The plane as seen above was the second aircraft designed and created by the Lockheed Aircraft Company after its founding in 1927. The design of the Air Express was based on the original fuselage of the Lockheed Vega, but the wing was raised to a parasol configuration above the fuselage and the cockpit was moved to behind the wing. Only seven Air Express planes were built.*

 

 

 
(1928)*#* - Lone Eagle CM-1 first flight at Vail Field Los Angeles, people gathered around.  

 

 

 

 
(1947)*# - Photo of Vail Airfield by Don Downie. The original caption reads, "Twenty-one A&E mechanics service the 220 planes based on this busiest airport in LA County. Seven miles east of the city, the port has a single 3,200' oiled runway no tower - and an air traffic problem. Tie-down is $15 monthly. Nearest transportation is 1/2 mile."  

 

Historical Notes

Montebello’s Vail Field gave way to more lucrative uses as large tracts of open land became attractive as real estate investments. It was evidently closed at some point between 1950-53, as a 1953 aerial photo showed that Garfield Avenue had been extended through the property, with the runway and hangars having been cleared and replaced by new streets.*#

 

 

 

Alhambra Airfield

 
(1930)^*# - Panoramic (left frame) view showing the dedication ceremonies of the new Western Air Express terminal at Alhambra Field on April 17, 1930.  The Good Year blimp is in the background.  

 

Historical Notes

The Alhambra Airport opened in April 1930, located south of Valley Blvd. between New Avenue and Almansor Street.  Western Air (the forerunner of Western Airlines) built the terminal, the passenger terminal, and the largest airplane hanger in the world at that time.

Western Air Express relocated from Vail Field to Alhambra Airport.*#

 

 

 

 
(1930)^*# - Panoramic (right frame) view showing a crowd of about 10,000 at the dedication of Western Air Express terminal at Alhambra Field. The crowd is centered around the new 12-passenger Fokker transport plane just purchased by Western Air Express (later Western Airlines). The Good Year blimp can be seen in the background. Photo Date: April 17, 1930  

 

 

 

 

 
(1930)^*# – Close-up view showing thousands of people around a Fokker F-32 aircraft at the Western Air Express terminal dedication.  

 

 

 

 

 
(1930)*# - Aerial view looking down at the Alhambra Airport during its opening dedication.  The Good Year blimp is visible overflying the field at a lower altitude. Two large hangars are seen in the upper-right. One is hexagonal in shape.  

 

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1930)*# - View of Alhambra Airport’s Hexagonal hangar with four Tri-Motors outside and in.  

 

Historical Notes

Western Air Express operated a fleet of six 12-passenger Fokker transports.  Their large maintenance hangar was shaped like a hexagon, and had doors on each face so that all six aircraft could be worked on simultaneously, a unique feature.*#

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1930)*# - Aerial annotated view of the Alhambra Airport looking north.  The airfield configuration was a 2,700' oiled northeast-southwest runway, with 2 hangars in the northeast corner.  

 

Historical Notes

The airport continued in operation until 1943 when the 157 acre property was put up for sale. The city of Alhambra took over the property the following year. In 1945, Harlow Aircraft Company purchased the airport from Western for $350,000 where they manufactured small airplanes. In 1946, Harlow sold off to real estate developers who subdivided the property, bringing an end to the airport.**##

Western Air Express moved its operations to the Grand Central Air Terminal in Glendale. Western Air Express later became Western Airlines, ceasing to exist following its 1987 merger with Delta Air Lines.**

 

 

 

 
(1930)** - View showing a chorus line on the wing of the big Fokker F-32 having their kicks.  

 

Historical Notes

The Fokker F-32 aircraft proved to be underpowered and costly to operate. Western Air Service retired them within a couple of years.**

 

 

 

 
(1936)^*^ - You could gas up your car beneath the wings of a grounded Fokker aircraft at Bob’s Air Mail Service Station on the n/w corner of Wilshire Blvd. and Cochran Ave. in 1936.  

 

Historical Notes

Bob’s Air Mail Service utilized a real twin-prop airplane to top its station, with the wings serving as canopies to shade its General Petroleum pumps. The plane was a Fokker F-32 aircraft operated by Western Air Express, circa 1930-31. The four engine F-32 was a design failure due to overheating of the two pusher engines and was only briefly in commercial service.

 

 

 

Hamilton Cove Airport (Catalina)

 
(1930s)#^^^ - Postcard view showing a seaplane arriving with tourists at Avalon Bay in front of the Catalina Casino.  

 

Historical Notes

Seaplanes were another popular and more expensive option of tansportation to Catalina Island. Charlie Chaplin’s half-brother Syd began the first seaplane service to Catalina in 1919. It operated only for a couple of summers, but other firms moved in to operate the service until 1931.

In that year, the island’s owner, Phillip K. Wrigley, began the Wilmington-Catalina Airline, Ltd. through his Santa Catalina Island Company.^*^^

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1931)* - Scenic view of Catalina Airport on Santa Catalina Island. Four planes are parked on a small runway, with three men, each standing by a plane. One man points to writing on the plane which reads, "Wilmington-Catalina Airline, Ltd."  

 

Historical Notes

In 1931, Philip Wrigley (son of William Wrigley, Jr.) helped design a unique airport at Hamilton Cove, the second cove north of Avalon. This airport was designed to accommodate the Douglas Dolphin amphibian planes of the Wilmington-Catalina Air Line, Ltd., a Wrigley-operated firm. The twin engine Dolphins landed just offshore and would taxi up a ramp to a large turntable mechanism. The airplane would then be rotated until it was facing the water and ready for a trip back to the mainland. A small Spanish-style terminal building welcomed residents, business people and tourists to Catalina.*^*

Catalina Airport was soon described as “the smallest airport with the longest landing field (the Pacific) in the world.”^*^^

 

 

 
(ca. 1931)*^* - William Wrigley's Chicago Cubs at the Hamilton Cove Airport.  

 

Historical Notes

William Wrigley, Jr. played an instrumental role in the history of Catalina Island. He bought controlling interest in the Santa Catalina Island Company in 1919 and with the company he received the island for free. Wrigley improved the island with public utilities, new steamships, a hotel, the Casino building, and extensive plantings of trees, shrubs and flowers.*^

In 1921 Wrigley moved the Spring Training site of his professional ball club, the Chicago Cubs, to Catalina.  That same year, he also purchased the Los Angeles Angels who he would build another Wrigley Field for in South Los Angeles (1925).  Click HERE to see more in Baseball in Early L.A.

 

 

 
(1931)^*# - Seaplane landing near the new "Two Million Dollar Casino" in Avalon.  

 

Historical Notes

Aircraft desinger Donald Douglas designed the main seaplane used by Wilmington-Catalina Airline, the Douglas Dolphin.  The twin-engined seaplane was the first of his planes to be used as a commercial passenger airliner.  Its interior was well-appointed and could comfortably seat 10 passengers for the princely fee of $5.00 for a one-way trip to Catalina in 1938.^*^^

 

 

 

(ca. 1938)^*^^ - Passenger receipt for a one way seaplane trip from Avalon to Wilmington on Wilmington Calalina Airline, Ltd. "The Fairweather Line". Fare - $5.00

 

 

 
     

 

Historical Notes

In August 1940, plans that had been made to expand aviation operations on the island to include land-based airplanes started to become a reality when construction began for an airport located on the island’s interior. The Airport in the Sky was completed in 1941, the airline operation was renamed Catalina Air Transport and the future looked bright.

Until December 7, 1941, when everything changed. Within a couple of weeks after the Pearl Harbor attack, the steamships were stopped from transporting passengers, and by September 1942, no civilian planes were allowed to land, effectively shutting down the entire island. It had become a closely patrolled federal military zone.

Eventually, several military outposts were established there to conduct training for the duration of the war. The Airport in the Sky was shuttered, though it would reopen as a full-service general aviation facility in 1946.
Unfortunately, the Catalina Airport at Hamilton Cove never reopened. Seaplanes continued to serve the island for decades, but they would land near a large platform in Avalon Bay, or at the inland airport when the weather turned rough.^*^^

 

 

Click HERE to see more in Early Views of Catalina

 

 

 

 

Miscellaneous Early Aviation

 
(Early 1900s)^* - A crowd of people looking up as a bi-plane flies overhead. It appears that some people are running to take cover....or just moving quickly to get a better view.  

 

 

 

 
(Early 1900s)^* - Photograph of a man and a small child sitting in an experimental plane. To the left, a man and a small child are seen sitting in a crudely made plane on a grassy field. The man is seen wearing formal attire and a small round hat. To his right, the young boy is seen wearing a darkly-colored cloak and a small cap. The man is seen gripping a small, round wheel that extends into the frame of the plane below. Next to the boy, a small wheel and bell are also visible. Above the man, the flat, rectangular wings of the plane are clearly visible. Also, a thin plane perpendicular to the wings is seen above the wings. Behind the wings, a part of a single propeller is visible. Below the man and child, four thin tires are seen balancing the plane's crude frame. In the extreme background, additional people and a building are barely visible. Description on back of the photo print reads: "Ed Davenport and father. 1467 Hehner St (?) Eagle Rock".  

 

 

 

 
(1909)*^*^ - The first pig to fly.  

 

 

 

 
(1918)*#^# - Walking over Santa Monica. Aerial view of a bi-plane flying over Santa Monica. A woman is standing on the wing looking down. Ocean Park Pier with its amusement park appears just below the plane and Venice Pier is seen in the distance. Click HERE to see more in Early Southern California Amusement Parks.  

 

 

 

 
(1927)*#* - You're never too old to fly!  

 

 

 

 
(1927)#*^ - The first Vega 1, NX913, Golden Eagle, nears completion at the Lockheed Aircraft Company, Hollywood.  

 

Historical Notes

Twenty-eight Vega 1 airplanes were built by Lockheed Aircraft Company at the factory on Sycamore Street in Hollywood before production of the improved Lockheed Vega 5 began in 1928 and the company moved to its new location at Burbank, California. #*^

 

 

 

 

(1927)#*^ – On July 4, 1927 the first Lockheed Aircraft Company Vega 1, NX913, Golden Eagle, made its maiden flight with test pilot Edward Antoine (Eddie) Bellande at Rogers Airport (The airport was at the present location of Wilshire Boulevard and Fairfax Avenue).

 

 

 

 

 
(1928)* - Seven men, identified as the "old gang", stand next to a plane at the Lockheed plant in Hollywood. From left to right: Frank Crane, Jimmy Gerschler, Dan Egger, Jerry Vultee, Dick Von Hake and Vard Wallace.  

 

Historical Notes

Originally called the Alco Hydro-Aeroplane Company, Lockheed was founded in 1912 by brothers Malcolm and Allan Loughead. Its next incarnation was Loughead Aircraft Manufacturing Company and was located in Santa Barbara. In 1926, following the failure of Loughead, Allan Loughead formed the Lockheed Aircraft Company in Hollywood. The Great Depression greatly changed the aircraft industry and in 1934, Robert E. Gross was named chairman of the new company, the Lockheed Corporation, which had relocated to Union Airport (Bob Hope Airport) in Burbank, California.*

 

 

 
(ca. 1929)*^ - View of a Fokker F.10 buzzing over City Hall circa 1929.  

 

Historical Notes

The Fokker F.10 was first used by Richfield Oil (they had 2 F.10's) and later by Northern Airlines. It was destroyed on June 25th 1930 due to a hangar fire at Chicago.^^^

 

 

 
(ca. 1924)* - View of the Airplane Café, a restaurant in the shape of a plane, complete with wings and a propeller. The structure has wheels, but rests on raised slabs of wood. The sign on roof reads: REAL CHILI - GOOD COFFEE - SPECIAL PREPARED HAMBURGER.  

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1924)* - Front end view of the Airplane Cafe (address unknown). The sign in the window reads: “Girl Wanted”.  

 

 

 

 
(1929)* - "The Dugout" sandwich stand, which is surrounded by sandbags and has a plane crashed into its roof, located at 6157 E. Whittier Blvd. A sign outside reads: "The famous Dugout French dip sandwiches".  

 

 

 

 
(1920s)* - Close-up view of "The Dugout" showing a man in a soldier's uniform waving from behind sandbags in front of the restaurant.  

 

 

 

 
(1931)* - View of Zep Diner, located at 515 W. Florence Ave, near Figueroa St. A sign hanging from the stairs advertises lunch for .40 cents. The Zep was open “all night” and was the “Home of the Hinden Burger”. The location is now a McDonald’s parking lot.  

 

 

 

 
(1931)#^^ - View of two women standing on the stairway leading to the entrance of Zen Diner.  

 

 

 

 
(1929)^* - Graf Zeppelin over Leimert Park area of Los Angeles, August 1929.  

 

 

 

 
(1929)^* - Photograph of the Graf Zeppelin and the small Goodyear pony blimp floating (or parked?) next to each other, 1929. The Graf Zeppelin is about ten times the size of the Goodyear blimp. Both the blimps are on the other side of the fence in the foreground. Several warning signs are posted up including a no-parking sign.  

 

 

 

 
(1928)#* - Men refuel a biplane at the Glendale Airport. A sign on the top of the fuel truck reads "Floco motor demonstration using Western Gasoline : energy supreme". The truck has the business's name, San Fernando Valley Oil Co., painted on the side of the cab. Photo by "Dick" Whittington  

 

 

 

 
(1929)^ -  Biplane Sunbeam gets refueled in flight during the first women's endurance record on Nov. 12, 1929. Aircraft piloted by Elinor Smith, with Bobbi Trout as copilot.  

 

Historical Notes

On January 2, 1929, Evelyn "Bobbi" Trout flew out of Van Nuys Airport (Metropolitan, San Fernando Valley) and into aviation history, an historic flight that lasted 12 hours, 11 minutes, set the first women's record for an all-night flight and flew the aviatrix into the pantheon of aviation pioneers. Trout went on to set more world records, many of them from Van Nuys Airport.^

 

 

 
(ca. 1930)^* - Photograph of aircraft next to large-scale wind tunnel, ca.1930. To the left, a large darkly-colored aircraft is visible. The aircraft is seen supported from its tires and tail by four immense metal poles on a platform. A man is seen standing next to a single pole beneath the plane. To the right of the plane in the background, an enormous wind tunnel is visible. The interior of the tunnel appears smooth, and the edges of the tunnel point concave outwards. A large steel propeller sits at the end of the tunnel. A man is also seen kneeling within the tunnel. In the extreme background, metallic structures and stairwells are visible.  

 

 

 

 
(1931)* - A Travel Air "Mystery Ship" belonging to Florence Lowe "Pancho" Barnes (1901-1975) shown at Union Airport (Bob Hope Airport) in Burbank.  

 

Historical Notes

In 1929, the first sleek little black and red Model-R mono-plane was flown to Cleveland from Wichita just before the National Air Races and was immediately placed in a hangar and covered with a canvas tarp. This secrecy of the plane's identity resulted in it being nicknamed the "Mystery Ship." "Pancho" Barnes, grand-daughter of Thaddeus S. C. Lowe of Mount Lowe fame, was a pioneer of women's aviation and the owner of the celebrated Happy Bottom Riding Club located in the Antelope Valley. After her death, her Mystery Ship shown here was stored in a hangar at Mojave Airport, but was later sold to a private collector and is currently in the United Kingdom waiting to be restored.*

 

 

 
(ca. 1930s)^* - Aerial view directly over the Automobile Club of Southern California building on Figueroa St. in Los Angeles. Signs are painted on the building's roof indicating direction and distances to nearest airports.  

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1935)^* - Composite photo of  a small commercial airliner flying at night over the city. Photo by “Dick” Whittington.  

 

 

 

 
(1936)^*^ - You could gas up your car beneath the wings of a grounded airplane at Bob’s Air Mail Service Station on the n/w corner of Wilshire Blvd. and Cochran Ave. in 1936.  

 

Historical Notes

Bob’s Air Mail Service utilized a real twin-prop airplane to top its station, with the wings serving as canopies to shade its General Petroleum pumps. The plane was one of two Fokker F-32 aircraft operated by Western Air Express, circa 1930-31. The four engine F-32 was a design failure due to overheating of the two pusher engines and was only briefly in commercial service.

 

 

 
(1936)***^ - Another view of Bob's Airmail Service Station at 5453 Wilshire Boulevard.  

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1936)^*# - Bob's Airmail Service Station on Wilshire. It almost appears as if the plane's propellers are moving. In the background can be seen the Wilshire Tower with the name Desmonds just visible on the top.  

 

 

 

 

 
(1929)* - The Northrop "Flight Wing" X-216H at United Airport (Bob Hope Airport) in Burbank  

 

Historical Notes

Jack Northrop, who designed the plane, felt that going with an all-wing aircraft would significantly increase overall performance. By 1929 he had produced the X-216H which, while it still used a small twin-boom tail, included a more refined wing and became the first successful example of an all-wing plane.*

 

 

 

 
(1930)* - Jack Northrop stands next to his "Flight Wing" X-216H at United Airport in Burbank.  

 

Historical Notes

John Knudsen "Jack" Northrop (1895-1981) was an American aircraft industrialist and designer, who founded the Northrop Corporation in 1939.*^

 

 

 

 
(1929) - Northrop Aircraft Co. founder Jack Northrop, right, and pilot Edward Bellande in 1929 with the original "flying wing," a design that evolved into the B-2 stealth bomber decades later  

 

Historical Notes

Jack Northrop's career began in 1916 as a draftsman for Loughead Aircraft Manufacturing Company. He joined the Douglas Aircraft Company in 1923, where in time he became a project engineer. In 1927 he rejoined Lockheed, where he was a chief engineer on the Lockheed Vega transport. He left in 1929 to found Avion Corporation, which he sold in 1930. Two years later he founded the Northrop Corporation. This firm became a subsidiary of Douglas Aircraft in 1939, so he co-founded a second company named Northrop.*^

 

 

 

 
(1946)#** - Northrop's Flying Wing Bomber known as the XB-35 in flight in 1946. The XB-35 was an experimental heavy bomber developed for the U.S. Army Air Force during World War II.  

 

Historical Notes

The Northrop XB-35 and YB-35 were experimental heavy bomber aircraft developed by the Northrop Corporation for the United States Army Air Forces during and shortly after World War II. The airplane used the radical and potentially very efficient flying wing design, in which the tail section and fuselage are eliminated and all payload is carried in a thick wing. Only prototype and pre-production aircraft were built, although interest remained strong enough to warrant further development of the design as a jet bomber, under the designation YB-49.*^

 

 

 

 
(1946)*** - View of the YB-35 prototype, considered to be the "Grandpa" of the B-2 Bomber. It was designed by Jack Northrop and had its first flight on June 25, 1946.  

 

 

 

 
(1947)^#^ - Two camera crews with photographers standing on top of their cars take photos during the unveiling of the new Northrop YB-49 Bomber.  

 

Historical Notes

The Northrop YB-49 was a prototype jet-powered heavy bomber aircraft developed by Northrop shortly after World War II. Intended for service with the U.S. Air Force, the YB-49 featured a flying wing design. It was a jet-powered development of the earlier, piston-engined Northrop XB-35 and YB-35; the two YB-49s actually built were both converted YB-35 test aircraft.^#^

 

 

 
(1947)*** - YB-49 Flying wing, a heavy bomber prototype, takes to the air for the first time in 1947.  

 

Historical Notes

The YB-49 never entered production, being passed over in favor of the more conventional Convair B-36 Peacemaker piston-driven design. Design work performed in the development of the YB-35 and YB-49 nonetheless proved to be valuable to Northrop in the eventual development of the current day B-2 Spirit strategic bomber which first entered operational service in the 1990s.^#^

 

 

 
(1947)^#^ - A Northrop YB-49 Bomber on its test flight over the desert.  

 

Historical Notes

Paramount Studios' 1953 film, The War of the Worlds incorporates Northrop color footage of a YB-49 test flight, originally used in Paramount's Popular Science theatrical shorts of the era; in the George Pal film the Flying Wing is used to drop an atomic bomb on the invading Martians.^#^

 

 

 
(1949)* - Aerial view of Flying Wing planes, the Northrop XB-35, at the Northrop plant in Hawthorne.  

 

Historical Notes

In the end, the program was terminated due to its technical difficulties, the obsolescence of its reciprocating propeller engines, and the program being far behind schedule and over budget. Another contributing factor to the program's failure was the tendency of Northrop to become engaged in many experimental programs, which spread its small engineering staff far too wide. While the competing propeller-driven B-36 was obsolete by that time and had just as many or even more development problems, the Air Force needed a very long range, post-war atomic bomber to counter the perceived Soviet threat. It had more faith that the B-36's "teething" problems could be overcome, compared to those of the new and radical "Flying Wing", the unofficial name that was later associated with all the Northrop "all-wing" designs.*^

 

 

 
(1953)^## - A young “cowboy”, the son of a member of the Air Force Flight Test Center, Edwards Air Force Base, California, looks over the Convair built YB-60 during its visit at Edwards from the Fort Worth, Texas, plant.  

 

Historical Notes

The YB60 was a jet-powered prototype version of the Convair B-36 Peacemaker. Both planes – being integral to the defense of America during The Cold War – were designed to carry nuclear weapons. While the B-36 enjoyed a fairly long career (1946 to 1959), the YB60 never got past experimental stage.^##

 

 

 
(ca. 1954)*# - View of the full-size mockup of the massive Hughes XH-28 helicopter, pictured inside the former Spruce Goose assembly hangar at Hughes Culver City, shown straddling a cargo platform carrying a truck.  

 

 

 

 
(1954)* - Aerial view looking north of an upside down Air Force fighter plane flying over downtown Los Angeles. City Hall can faintly be seen in the upper right corner of the photo.  

 

 

 

Grand Central Airport (Glendale)

 
(ca. 1922)* - Aerial view of Grand Central Aiport in Glendale on U.S. Army Air Force Day. Planes are parked in front of hangers and on the field. A large number of cars are parked on a field below the airport. A crowd stands between the Grand Central Air Terminal building and the hangers. The terminal with its control tower was designed by Henry L. Gogerty.  

 

Historical Notes

The concept for this airport probably began with Leslie Coombs Brand (1859–1925), a major figure in the settlement and economic growth of the Glendale area. He had purchased land on the lower slopes of Mount Verdugo overlooking the city, and in 1904 built an imposing residence that became known as Brand Castle (which today houses the Brand Library). Just across the mostly dry Los Angeles River he could see the Griffith Park Aerodrome's grass field, built in 1912. Just three years later he decided to build his own grass airstrip below his mansion. He built his first hangar in 1916 and put together a fleet of planes, and held fly-in parties. The only requirement was that guests had to arrive in their own planes and bring passengers.*^

 

 

 
(1929)^* - Aerial view of Grand Central Air Terminal, Glendale, 1929. The airfield can be seen at center and a single runway is visible. Hundreds of cars can be seen parked near the runway at left, and planes are visible on the taxiways. Closely spaced houses can be seen in the foreground and in the background.  

 

Historical Notes

In 1923 the 112-acre Glendale Municipal Airport opened with a 100 ft. wide paved runway 3,800 ft. long, and came to be renamed "Grand Central Air Terminal" (GCAT) when it was purchased by other venture capitalists, who expanded it to 175 acres. On February 22, 1929 a terminal with a control tower had been built, and was opened to much fanfare. Designed by Henry L. Gogerty, the intention was to construct an air terminal along the lines of a classic railroad terminal. It combined a style consisting of Spanish Colonial Revival with Zig-zag Moderne influences (Art Deco). GCAT became a major airport of entry to Los Angeles and provided the first paved runway west of the Rocky Mountains. Within a year, the entire enterprise was sold to a group calling itself the Curtiss-Wright Flying Service, managed by Major Corliss C. Moseley, a co-founder of the future Western Airlines. It became the city's largest employer.*^

 

 

 
(ca. 1930s)^* - Birdseye view of a crowd along the runway at the Grand Central Air Terminal in Glendale. The runway goes from the foreground at right to the background at left. A large crowd of people can be seen around the entire periphery of the runway. It appears that they are waiting to see an air show.  

 

 

 

 
(1937)^* - Aerial view of Grand Central Airport in Glendale, February 28, 1932. The terminal is at center and is a large, rectangular, mission-style structure. A tall control tower sticks up from the upper right corner. Two small aircraft are parked directly in front of the terminal, and hundreds of automobiles are parked in a lot behind the terminal. Many people are lined up near the aircraft. The runway is at center and borders a large dirt field. In the distance at left, a neatly arranged neighborhood is visible, while railroad tracks can be seen in the foreground at right.  

 

Historical Notes

In 1947 the runway was cut back to 3,800' (southeast of Sonora Ave) due to pressure from local government. The airport was returned to private use, renamed Grand Central Airport, ceased to be profitable, and was closed in 1959 to make way for the development of the Grand Central Business Park, which today houses corporate offices of the Walt Disney Company as well as the headquarters for Walt Disney Imagineering. For a number of years the Southwest corner was used as a commercial helicopter base. That space is now occupied by the DreamWorks Animation SKG production company. The city of Glendale retains some interest in aviation, for it is part owner of the Bob Hope Airport (formerly "Burbank-Glendale-Pasadena Airport").*^

 

 

 
(ca. 1930s)^* - Photograph of a radial-engine airplane outside the Grand Central Airport. The high-wing monoplane can be seen in the foreground at right, and a man in a suit is visible near an open door under the wing. The Spanish-style air terminal can be seen in the background. It is a two-story structure with a terracotta tile roof. In the background at left, a tall rectangular control tower is visible. Legible signs include "Grand Central Air Terminal" and "Curtiss-Wright".  

 

 

 

 
(1930)^ – View of Charles A. Lindbergh and his co-pilot/navigator, Anne Lindbergh beside their Sirius, built according to the specifications of Lindbergh, by Lockheed.  

 

Historical Notes

On Easter, 1930, Colonel Lindbergh and his wife, Anne, took off from Glendale (Calif.), bundled up in their bulky, electrically heated flying suits, to test the advantages of weather at high altitudes, and to set new transcontinental records. The sliding canopies, covering both formerly open cockpits, were suggested by Mrs. Lindbergh, who set a women's record for coast to coast flights on this first Lockheed Sirius. The sliding canopies were later put into common use. While the ship was being built, Lindbergh, shy of publicity, was secluded from hero-worshippers in the Hamilton Propeller Shop at the Burbank Field. He seemed happy and relaxed working quietly along with the mechanics. Some who were there have left stories of their admiration for this warm, friendly man, a perfectionist, interested in everything concerning his plane. They fondly told how he politely by-passed invitations from Very Important People, and went to lunch day after day with the crew. On occasions, Mrs. Lindbergh waited for her husband to finish his work in their car, parked in the shade of the hangar. The working crew would bring her sandwiches and cold drinks from the lunchroom nearby. The photograph was probably taken in Glendale, but it is a Lockheed plane, made in Burbank.^  

 

 

 
(ca. 1931)^*# - Tank truck, Grand Central Airport, Glendale.  

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1937)* - A wing and arrow top this neon sign for the Grand Central Air Terminal, located at 1310 Air Way in Glendale. A smaller sign hangs below encouraging one to fly the American Airlines Sleeper Flagships. A log fence and telephone lines separate the neighboring Spanish style ranch houses from the field surrounding the sign. A painted sign advertising the new development of "Ranchos" is cut off in the foreground.  

 

 

 

 
(1937)* - View of an American Airlines DST (Douglas Sleeper Transport - an early version of a DC-3) prop plane carrying mail on the landing at the Grand Central Air Terminal, located at 1310 Air Way in Glendale.  

 

Historical Notes

The Grand Central Air Terminal was designed by Henry L. Gogerty in 1928 in the Spanish Colonial Revival style with zig-zag moderne elements. The terminal is a City of Glendale registered landmark.*

 

 

 
(1940s)^*^ - A shining DC-3 parked in front of the Grand Central Airport terminal as night falls.  

 

Historical Notes

The Grand Central Airport was officially closed on July 15, 1959 and has been replaced with a warehouse district, but the main terminal survives.*

 

 

 

Metropolitan to Van Nuys Airport

 
(1930)^ - Aerial view of Van Nuys Airport when it was known as Metropolitan Airport.  

 

Historical Notes

Los Angeles Metropolitan Airport opened in 1928 and was spread over 80 acres amid the trees and farmland. In 1929, Hollywood discovered the airport. Howard Hughes, Hoot Gibson, Cecil B. DeMille, Gene Autry and Wallace Beery were among the growing number of stars flying at the new airport. The airport continued to expand and grow with three factories, six hangers, and a control tower on airport grounds. The airport also began hosting air races.  During one such race in 1929, Amelia Earhart set a new speed record.*^#

 

 

 
(1940)* - Aerial view showing the Metropolitan Airport, later Van Nuys Airport, on April 15, 1940.  

 

Historical Notes

In 1942, with the outbreak of World War II, the U.S. government purchased Metropolitan Airport and converted it into a military base to help protect the West Coast. The military also purchased an additional 163 acres of land for the construction of the Van Nuys Army Airfield, using new runways to train hundreds of P-38 Lightning pilots.*#^

 

 

 
(ca. 1944)* - Aerial view, looking east, of the San Fernando Valley. The Metropolitan Airport is seen at lower right after its expansion.  

 

Historical Notes

The airport became a vital defense-manufacturing center during the war. In 1944, a joint venture between the U.S. Navy and Lockheed Corporation created an aircraft modification facility known as the Navy Lockheed Plant. In the meantime, Hollywood continued to use the airport for filming, most notably when scenes from the classic Casablanca were filmed at the airport.*#^

 

 

 
(1946)* - Aerial view of San Fernando Valley, north of the Metropolitan Airport, now known as Van Nuys Airport.  

 

Historical Notes

At one point in the late '40s, it was envisioned as a base for Air Force fighter/interceptor planes to defend against a feared attack by Soviet-piloted bombers from Siberia. To provide the space needed for early jet fighters, a runway was extended an additional 2,000 feet south from Saticoy Street to Vanowen Street. To avoid blocking busy Sherman Way, the street was routed into a tunnel under the runway, which is still in use today. But, by the time hundreds of homes had been razed and the expansion completed, the defense role was taken over by Nike anti-aircraft missiles, leaving the airport with an extraordinarily long (8,000 feet!) runway for a general aviation field, an unintended legacy of the Cold War.*^#

 

 

 
(1950)^ - Metropolitan Airport is renamed San Fernando Valley Airport in 1950.  

 

Historical Notes

In 1949, the city of Los Angeles purchased the airport from the War Assets Administration for a token payment of one dollar, with the condition that it remain the home of the California Air National Guard until 1985. One year later, the airport was renamed San Fernando Valley Airport.*#

 

 

 

 
(1950)^ – Postcard aerial view of the runway at Van Nuys Airport.  

 

Historical Notes

The above photo is mislabeled. In 1950 the airport was still known as the San Fernando Valley Airport. It would be renamed Van Nuys Airport in 1957.*^#

 

 

 

 
(2006)*^ - Aerial view of Van Nuys airport as it appeared in 2006.  

 

Historical Notes

Van Nuys Airport is owned and operated by Los Angeles World Airports.  Through 2005, it was the busiest general aviation airport in the world (the second busiest being Phoenix Deer Valley Airport).  In terms of takeoffs and landings, it was also the 25th busiest airport in the world. With two parallel runways, Van Nuys Airport handled 448,681 aircraft movements in 2005, averaging over 1,200 operations/day; in 2006 it handled 394,915 movements, nearly 1,100 per day. That’s amazing considering no major airlines fly into this airport. Los Angeles International Airport (with 4 runways and many airline flights) has roughly 1,700 operations a day.*^

 

 

 

Clover Field (Santa Monica Airport)

 
(1929)* - Crowds gathered on the sides of Clover Field (Santa Monica Airport) to watch the air show. Several planes are parked on the field, waiting their turns to takeoff.  

 

Historical Notes

In 1923, the Army Air Corps dedicated Clover Field, named after World War I pilot Lt. Greayer “Grubby” Clover, who grew up nearby and was killed in action.*^*#

 

 

 
(1929)^^^^ - View of Clover Field 1929. The Douglas Aircraft plant can be seen on the right.  

 

Historical Notes

Donald Wills Douglas, Sr. founded the Douglas Aircraft Company in 1921 with his first plant on Wilshire Boulevard. He built a plant in 1922 at Clover Field (Santa Monica Airport), which was in use for 46 years. In 1924, four Douglas-built planes took off from Clover Field to attempt the first aerial circumnavigation of the world. Two planes made it back, after having covered 27,553 miles in 175 days, and were greeted on their return September 23, 1924 by a crowd of 200,000 (generously estimated).*^

 

 

 
(1940s)^^^^ - View of Douglas Aircraft with numerous planes positioned all around its plant. The surrounding neighborhood has been built up when compared to previous photo.  

 

Historical Notes

Douglas Aircraft Co. was a major player in the aircraft industry during World War II. Local historians note that World War II affected Santa Monica more than most places, as the Federal Government (for national security reasons) leased the Airport from the City to provide protection for Douglas Aircraft – then a major defense contractor located in Sunset Park. The government also participated in the expansion of the facility to accommodate the ever-growing production of military aircraft by Douglas Aircraft.^*##

 

 

 
(ca. 1940)* - An impatient car starts across the crosswalk while men and women are still crossing towards the Douglas Aircraft Company factory, located at 2700 Ocean Park Boulevard, Santa Monica. An ice cream truck is parked and the attendant is ready to catch workers as they return to work.  

 

Historical Notes

At its peak, Douglas Aircraft, and Santa Monica Airport grew in size to its present 227 acres, employing 40,000 individuals.^*##

 

 

 
(ca. 1945)*#*# - Playing such a vital role in military aircraft production during World War II, camouflage was used to make the plant and airstrip disappear - at least from the air.  

 

Historical Notes

In later years, Douglas Aircraft merged with a rival to become McDonnell-Douglas Corporation (1967) and moved to Long Beach (1976).  The 5,000-foot runway at what was by then known as Santa Monica Airport was too short for the firm's growing jet production.  Two decades later, McDonnell-Douglas would be absorbed by yet another rival, Boeing Company.  When the corporation left town, Douglas' son, Donald Wills Douglas Jr, set up the Donald Douglas Museum and Library to commemorate his father's legacy.  Douglas Sr. died in 1981.  Nine years later, the nonprofit Museum of Flying, founded by golf course and real estate developer David Price, superseded the old museum as part of a $20-million airport overhaul.  Exhibits included vintage planes and an immense photo of when the airport and plant operated under cover of camouflage.*#*#

 

 

 

Hughes Airport (Culver City)

 
(ca. 1935)*##* - Early photo of Howard Hughes standing in front of his H-1 Racer.  

 

Historical Notes

Howard Hughes was a lifelong aircraft enthusiast and pilot. At Rogers Airport in Los Angeles, he learned to fly from pioneer aviators, including Moye Stephens. He set many world records and commissioned the construction of custom aircraft for himself while heading Hughes Aircraft at the airport in Glendale. Operating from there, the most technologically important aircraft he commissioned was the Hughes H-1 Racer.

On September 13, 1935, Hughes, flying the H-1, set the landplane airspeed record of 352 mph over his test course near Santa Ana, California. A year and a half later, on January 19, 1937, flying the same H-1 Racer fitted with longer wings, Hughes set a new transcontinental airspeed record by flying non-stop from Los Angeles to Newark in 7 hours, 28 minutes and 25 seconds (beating his own previous record of 9 hours, 27 minutes). His average ground speed over the flight was 322 mph.*^

The H-1 Racer was the last aircraft built by a private individual to set the world speed record; every aircraft to hold the honor since has been a military design.*^

 

 

 

 
(1941)*# - Aerial view looking west showing the Hughes plant under construction and the runway on the right side.  

 

Historical Notes

By 1939 the Hughes Tool Company was engaged in a full-scale program to develop a high speed fighter bomber using Duramold plywood, a plastic-bonded plywood molded under heat & high pressure. This became the DX-2, later known simply as the D-2. To build the D-2, the Burbank facility would be insufficient, and Hughes sought a much larger facility than what at the time he was renting from the Lockheed Company in Burbank.

In 1940 Hughes purchased 380 acres (although other sources put the initial purchase as over 1,000 acres) of the Ballona Wetlands just west of Culver City for $500,000.  Hughes recognized the area as one of the few large tracts of remaining undeveloped land in Los Angeles. The high water table made it necessary to sink 50' pilings into the wetlands to support Hughes’ buildings & reroute the course of the Centinela River, which flowed through the site every spring & flooded it. On his new land Hughes constructed a 60,000 square foot air conditioned, humidity-controlled aircraft plant with an adjacent grass runway.*#

Little known fact: The Los Angeles River was originally alluvial, meaning its banks and bed were formed from loose sediments and rock that allowed it to change its path depending on water flow and season. Up until the early 1800's, the river actually flowed into the Pacific near Marina Del Ray (Ballona Wetlands), but a particularly severe flash flood in 1825 diverted the river all the way to Long Beach, where it has remained since.**^

 

 

 
(ca. 1942)*# - Photo of Howard Hughes inspecting the prototype of the Hughes D-2 in the Hughes Culver City factory.  

 

Historical Notes

The D-2 was built in secret at the Hughes Culver City factory with longtime Hughes associate, Glenn Odekirk, providing engineering inputs. The fighter that emerged from the Hughes experimental shop looked like a scaled-up P-38 Lightning and, on paper, sported similar performance potential. The D-2 had a twin-boom configuration, powered by a pair of 2,000 hp Pratt & Whitney R-2800s.*#

 

 

 
(1946)#^ - American industrialist and aviator Howard Hughes sits in the cockpit of his new XF-11. The plane was built in conjunction with the U.S. Army Air Force and designed especially for photo reconnaissance work.  

 

Historical Notes

Shortly after Howard Hughes took off in the first XF-11 prototype from the Culver City runway on July 7, 1946, one of the propellers inadvertently went into reverse thrust, sending the craft out of control. The XF-11 crashed into a house in Beverly Hills, severely injuring Howard Hughes.*#

 

 

 

 

 
(1947)*# - The 2nd prototype of the Hughes XF-11 takes off from Culver City on April 4, 1947. It had been fitted with conventional 4-bladed propellers, addressing the 1st prototype's fatal flaw.  

 

 

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1940s)*# - View showing a wing of the Hughes HK-1 Hercules (Spruce Goose) flying boat under construction within the Culver City assembly building.  

 

Historical Notes

The 'Spruce Goose,' officially known as the Hughes HK-1 Hercules, was built and stored here. A full-time crew of 300 workers, all sworn to secrecy, maintained the plane in flying condition in a climate-controlled hangar at Hughes Airport. The crew was reduced to 50 workers in 1962, and then disbanded after Hughes' death in 1976.

By the mid-1990s, the former Hughes Aircraft hangars here, including the one that held the Hercules, were converted into sound stages. Scenes from movies such as Titanic, What Women Want, and End of Days have been filmed in the 315,000-square-foot aircraft hangar where Hughes created the flying boat. It also features in the computer Game "Crimson Skies". The hangar will be preserved as a structure eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Buildings.*^

 

 

 
(1947)** - The Hughes Aircraft H-4 Hercules "Spruce Goose" during taxi tests in the Long Beach-Los Angeles Harbor. Howard Hughes is at the controls.  

 

Historical Notes

The Hughes H-4 Hercules was originally contracted by the U.S. government for use during World War II to transport troops and equipment across the Atlantic as an alternative to sea-going troop transport ships that were vulnerable to German U-boats. However the aircraft was not completed until after the end of World War II. The concept for the Hercules was originally conceived by industrialist Henry J. Kaiser, who teamed with Hughes to build the aircraft.*^

 

 

 
(ca. 1947)* - Howard Hughes getting the feel of the cockpit in his famous "Spruce Goose" seaplane.  

 

Historical Notes

Howard Robard Hughes, Jr. (December 24, 1905 – April 5, 1976) was a  business magnate, investor, aviator, aerospace engineer, film maker and philanthropist. He was one of the wealthiest people in the world. As a maverick film producer, Hughes gained prominence in Hollywood from the late 1920s, making big-budget and often controversial films like The Racket (1928), Hell's Angels (1930), Scarface (1932) and The Outlaw (1943).

Hughes was one of the most influential aviators in history: he set multiple world air speed records, built the Hughes H-1 Racer and H-4 "Hercules" (better known to history as the "Spruce Goose" aircraft), and acquired and expanded Trans World Airlines, which would later on merge with American Airlines.

Hughes is also remembered for his eccentric behavior and reclusive lifestyle in later life, caused in part by a worsening obsessive–compulsive disorder and chronic pain. His legacy is maintained through the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.*^

 

 

 

 

 
(1947)*# - Hughes Hercules ('Spruce Goose') made its first and only flight in 1947 with Howard Hughes himself at the controls.  

 

Historical Notes

An estimated 15,000 persons jammed beaches and piers along the course to watch the boat’s trials. Hundreds of small boats ranging from fishing craft to row-boats swarmed waters adjacent to the taxing lane. A Coast Guard cutter stood by to warn spectators clear of the plane.**

 

 

 

 

 
(1947)** - The Hughes Aircraft H-4 Hercules "Spruce Goose" during short flight in the Long Beach-Los Angeles Harbor.  

 

Historical Notes

The Hercules flew only once for one mile, and 70 feet above the water, with Hughes at the controls.*^

Hughes piloted the boat on a course roughly paralleling the shoreline from Terminal Island Navy Base to offshore from Pier A in Long Beach.

In addition to the multimillionaire plane-maker, 30 engineers, technicians and observers were aboard the plywood giant for its first movement under its own power.**

 

 

 
(1947)^#^# - Howard Hughes's H-4 Hercules - The "Spruce Goose" - It flew only once on Nov. 2, 1947. The Hercules is the largest flying boat ever built and has the largest wingspan of any aircraft in history. They really weren't sure it would lift off - but it did.  

 

Historical Notes

The aircraft made its first and only flight on November 2, 1947, and the project never advanced beyond the single example produced. Built from wood because of wartime restrictions on the use of aluminum and concerns about weight, its critics nicknamed it the "Spruce Goose", despite its being made almost entirely of birch rather than spruce. The Hercules is the largest flying boat ever built and has the largest wingspan of any aircraft in history. It survives in good condition at the Evergreen Aviation Museum in McMinnville, Oregon.*^

 

 

 
(1980)* - Spruce Goose fuselage viewed from its tail section.  

 

Historical Notes

The aircraft was the brainchild of Henry J. Kaiser, a leading Liberty ship builder. He teamed with aircraft designer Howard Hughes to create what would become the largest aircraft built at that time. It was designed to be capable of carrying 750 fully equipped troops or one M4 Sherman tank. The original designation "HK-1" reflected the Hughes and Kaiser collaboration.*^

 

 

 
(1980)* - Photograph caption dated October 30, 1980 reads, "Tugboats escort Spruce Goose from hangar where it's been housed for 33 years and head for a new berth near Queen Mary."  

 

Historical Notes

In 1980, the Spruce Goose was acquired by the Aero Club of Southern California, which put the aircraft on display in a large dome adjacent to the Queen Mary exhibit in Long Beach.*^

 

 

 

 
(1982)* - Photograph caption dated February 11, 1982 reads, "Spruce Goose, Howard Hughes' 210-foot-long flying machine that flew only once, found a new home yesterday: a vast aluminum exhibition dome next to the Queen Mary's berth in Long Beach. As hundreds watched from the stern of the ocean liner, the $25 million plane was moved into the 130-foot-high dome, ending a 4 1/2-mile barge trip. Designed by Hughes to carry troops during World War II, the Goose flew one mile in 1947 and has been resting ever since. Now she'll star in a Wrather Corp. exhibit simulating her long-avoided flight."  

 

 

 

 

 
(1982)* - Photograph caption dated February 15, 1982 reads, "The dome housing the Spruce Goose is the world's largest clear-span aluminum dome, covering 135,000 square feet, with a diameter of 415 feet."  

 

Historical Notes

In 1988, the Walt Disney Company acquired both attractions and the associated real estate. Disney informed the Aero Club of Southern California that it no longer wished to display the Hercules after its highly ambitious Port Disney was scrapped.

In 1993, the Aero Club of Southern California sold the Hughes flying boat to Evergreen Aviation Museum. The aircraft was disassembled and transported by barge, train and truck to its current home in McMinnville, Oregon (about 40 miles southwest of Portland), where it was reassembled and is currently on display.*^

 

 

 
(ca. 1952)*# - View of the first helicopter produced by Hughes, the giant XH-17 "Flying Crane", flying above the Culver City runway.  

 

Historical Notes

In 1947, Howard Hughes redirected the Hughes Aircraft Company's efforts from airplanes to helicopters. The effort began in earnest in 1948, when helicopter manufacturer Kellett Autogiro Corporation sold their latest design to Hughes for production. The XH-17 "Sky Crane" first flew in October 1952, but was commercially unsuccessful.*^

 

 

 
(1952)*** - View of Howard Hughes walking away from the Hughes XH-17 “Flying Crane”.  

 

Historical Notes

In 1955 the company began building light helicopters when Howard Hughes split the helicopter production unit from the Hughes Aircraft Co.*^

 

 

 
(1968)* - Aerial view looking east along the runway of the Hughes Airport.  Loyola University and Westchester can be seen on the right.  

 

Historical Notes

In 1943, Hughes built the world’s longest private runway at the Hughes Airport.  Runway 5/23 was 9,600' long - nearly 2 miles in length.  It was not paved for its first few years, because Hughes believed that paved runways imparted unnecessary stress on an aircraft's landing gear. He reportedly had to add fill regularly to keep the ground solid.*#

 

 

 
(1972)*# - Aerial view looking west at the Hughes Airfield.  

 

Historical Notes

After an often strange & reclusive life, Howard Hughes died in 1976.  After the dust of Hughes’ estate had settled, the Culver City property was in the hands of Summa Corporation. Summa proposed a mega-development, with 29,000 people in 13,000 units, and an additional 20,000 employed by an on-site world-class motion picture studio. The project was called "Playa Vista." *#

During the late 1990s, DreamWorks failed in its attempt to build a studio in Playa Vista.*^

 

 

 

Angeles Mesa Drive Airport to Bob Hope Airport (Burbank)

 
(ca. 1929)^*^* - Aerial view of the Angeles Mesa Drive Airport (later United) located in the Burbank Area. At center of photo, which appears to be a parking lot, is the location of the new airport terminal building that will be built over the next year.  

 

Historical Notes

In 1928, the airfield was called Angeles Mesa Drive Airport.  Over the next two years the airport would see a major expansion with the additon of a modern terminal building. When completed in 1930, it would take on a new name: United Airport.*^

 

 

 

 
(1930)#* - A slightly elevated panoramic view of a runway full of airplanes at United Airport in Burbank. There are at least eight rows of three airplanes parked on the runway in the foreground. These are US Army Bomber aircraft, including the Curtiss B-2 and the Keystone LB-6. Beyond these there are dozens more smaller planes, closely parked in rows of six to ten.  Photo Date:  April 26, 1930  

 

 

 

 

 
(1930)^* - Birds eye view of the United Airport in Burbank at the Terminal's dedication. At center, a crowd of people has gathered around the main terminal bulding. Converting just before it, two lanes of airplanes can be seen in the foreground. To the left, a sign on a long, one-story building reads "United", while automobiles can be seen parked all around.  

 

Historical Notes

United Airport was dedicated amid much festivity (including an air show) on Memorial Day Weekend (May 30 – June 1, 1930). The airport and its handsome Spanish revival terminal was a showy new competitor to the nearby Grand Central Airport in neighboring Glendale, which was then Los Angeles' main airline terminal.*^

 

 

 
(1930)^*^* - A squadron of planes takes-off and flys over the new Terminal building as spectators watch.  

 

Historical Notes

The new Burbank facility became the largest commercial airport in the Los Angeles area until it was eclipsed in 1946 by the Los Angeles Airport in Westchester when that facility (formerly Mines Field, then Los Angeles Municipal Airport) commenced scheduled airline operations*^

 

 

 
(1930)^* - A fly-over of the United Air Terminal in Burbank at the terminal's dedication, May 30, 1930. The terminal is at center and is a light-colored structure with a tall rectangular tower at center that is flanked by two lower sections. The front of the building is marked by a series of archways, and the tops of the two lower wings are uncovered and crowded with people. There are also hundreds of people on the ground, and a parking lot is at right. Twelve biplanes are flying in formation over the terminal, and more planes are visible on the ground at right. A tall mountain range is visible in the distance.  

 

Historical Notes

Over the years, the airport has been known as Angeles Mesa Drive Airport (1928–1930), United Airport (1930–1934), Union Air Terminal (1934–1940), Lockheed Air Terminal (1940–1967), Hollywood-Burbank Airport (1967–1978), Burbank-Glendale-Pasadena Airport (1978–2003) and most recently Bob Hope Airport (2003–present).*^

 

 

 
(1930)* - Aerial view of United Airport in Burbank. Crowds of people can be seen on the ground, watching the air show taking place over the airport.  

 

Historical Notes

Boeing Aircraft and Transport (BA&T) was a holding company created in 1928 that included Boeing Aircraft and United Air Lines, itself a holding company for a collection of small airlines that continued to operate under their own names. One of these airlines was Pacific Air Transport (PAT), which Boeing had acquired because of PAT's west coast mail contract in January 1928. BA&T then sought a suitable site for a new airport for PAT, and found one in Burbank. BA&T had the benefit of surveys that the Aeronautics Department of the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce had conducted starting in 1926 to identify potential airport sites.*^

 

 

 
(ca. 1930)^* - Aerial view of United Airport. The runway extends in four directions, toward the north, north-west, to the west and the east. Below the eastern part of the runway, the pavement connects to what appears to be a terminal at the airport proper. The roofs of three large structures can be seen, sandwiching a semicircular area that appears to be the airport. To the bottom right is an area lined with trees, houses, and perhaps a golf course. Below the airport runs the Southern Pacific Railroad, and to the right runs Hollywood Way. In the upper right corner lie several roofed structures that form an "L" shape around an arborous area. At the back to the left are two roofed structures with roads that connect to the runway, presumably hangars.  

 

Historical Notes

It took Boeing Aircraft and Transport a year and the cooperation of the city to assemble the site. The 234-acre site was rife with vines and trees and the ground had to be filled and leveled, but it had good drainage, a firm landing surface, steady winds, and good access to ground transport. Construction was completed in just seven months. In an age when few aircraft had brakes and many had a tail skid instead of a wheel, runways were not usually paved; those at Burbank had a 5-inch-thick mixture of oil and sand. There were no taxi strips, but the designers left room for them. Two of the runways were over 3,600 feet long; a third was 2,900 feet; all were 300 feet wide. These were generous dimensions, and the site had room for expansion.*^

 

 

 
(1930s)* - Exterior view of the Administration building of Union Air Terminal (later Bob Hope Airport) in Burbank.  

 

Historical Notes

The Burbank facility remained United Airport until 1934 when it was renamed Union Air Terminal. The name change came the same year that Federal anti-trust actions caused United Aircraft And Transport Corp. to dissolve, which took effect September 26, 1934. The Union Air Terminal moniker stuck until Lockheed bought the airport in 1940 and renamed it Lockheed Air Terminal.*^

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1934)#^^^ – Postcard view showing a plane, Douglas DC-3, being serviced at Union Air Terminal, Burbank.  

 

Historical Notes

The Douglas DC-3’s speed and range revolutionized air transport in the 1930s and 1940s. Its lasting impact on the airline industry and World War II makes it one of the most significant transport aircraft ever made.

The major military version was designated the C-47 Skytrain, of which more than 10,000 were produced.

Many DC-3s and converted C-47s are still used in all parts of the world.*^

 

 

 

 
(1930s)* - View is looking south over the Burbank Airport in the 1930s. A TWA airliner, Douglas DC-3, comes in for a landing.  

 

 

 

 

 
(1930)* - A Lockheed Air Express at United Airport (Bob Hope Airport), owned by famous pilot Colonel Roscoe Turner.  

 

Historical Notes

Roscoe Turner was known as a serious racing pilot, a Hollywood stunt pilot and showman. In 1930 he took on a new and unexpected flight partner--a lion. A year before, Turner had secured sponsorship by the Gilmore Oil Company, who had a lion as a corporate logo (see rear of plane), and realizing the potential publicity for both him and his sponsor, Turner acquired a lion cub and began flying with him. "Gilmore," the lion became a well-known national figure and, like Turner's uniform, one of the aviator's trademarks. Gilmore was on aboard when Turner set two transcontinental speed records in May 1930, one traveling eastward and the other westward. Turner flew from Los Angeles to New York in 15 hours, 37 minutes. The journey back to California took 18 hours, 42 minutes. To celebrate his achievements, Turner decided to set yet another record, this time across three countries.*

 

 

 

 
(1932)^*# - Photograph of two men and Amelia Earhart in front of airplane. In the background is the Pacific Airmotive Corp. hangar in Burbank.  

 

Historical Notes

Amelia Mary Earhart; July 24, 1897 – disappeared July 2, 1937) was an American aviation pioneer and author. Earhart was the first female pilot to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean. She received the U.S. Distinguished Flying Cross for this record. She set many other records, wrote best-selling books about her flying experiences and was instrumental in the formation of The Ninety-Nines, an organization for female pilots.  Earhart joined the faculty of the Purdue University aviation department in 1935 as a visiting faculty member to counsel women on careers and help inspire others with her love for aviation. She was also a member of the National Woman's Party, and an early supporter of the Equal Rights Amendment.*^

 

 

 
(1932)^*# - Amelia Earhart standing in front of her single-prop plane in Burbank.  

 

Historical Notes

During an attempt to make a circumnavigational flight of the globe in 1937 in a Purdue-funded Lockheed Model 10 Electra, Earhart disappeared over the central Pacific Ocean near Howland Island. Fascination with her life, career and disappearance continues to this day.*^

 

 

 
(1937)^*# - A Boeing Model 247 as it taxis off toward the runway at Union Air Terminal. The 247 was the first commercial plane capable of flying non-stop coast to coast.  

 

Historical Notes

The Boeing Model 247 was considered the first aircraft to fully incorporate advances such as all-metal (anodized aluminum) semi-monocoque construction, a fully cantilevered wing and retractable landing gear. Other advanced features included control surface trim tabs, an autopilot and deicing boots for the wings and tailplane.

The 247 was capable of crossing the United States from east to west eight hours faster than its predecessors, such as the Ford Trimotor and Curtiss Condor. Entering service on May 22, 1933, a Boeing Air Transport 247 set a cross-country record pace of 19½ hours on its San Francisco to New York inaugural flight. For the first time airline passengers could fly across the country without changing planes or stopping overnight.

The 247 remained in airline service until World War II, when several were converted into C-73 transports and trainers. No. 121 Squadron, Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) operated seven Model 247Ds as medium transports during the early part of the war. Some 247s were still flying in the late 1960s, converted either into cargo transports or personal business aircraft.*^

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1940)^ – Postcard view of the Lockheed Air Terminal in Burbank.  

 

Historical Notes

By 1934 the airport had become Los Angeles' primary airport known as Union Air Terminal. During the 1930's Lockheed Aircraft Company, adjacent to the field, evolved into one the nation's largest aircraft manufacturers, and in 1940 Lockheed purchased the airport. It was then renamed Lockheed Air Terminal and used to test and deliver Lockheed aircraft. It also remained Los Angeles' primary civil airport and remained the area's only civil airport throughout the war.*^^

 

 

 

 
(1940s)*^^ - View showing the Lockheed Air Terminal camouflaged and covered with tree-like netting during World War II.  

 

Historical Notes

During the war Lockheed built P-38 fighters, Hudson and B-17 bombers. The Royal Air Force's Air Technical Services Command and US Army Air Forces Western Technical Training Command had operations at the field. The airport and the Lockheed plant were extensively camouflaged during the war.*^^

 

 

 
(1940s)*^^ - View showing the camouflaged Lockheed plant and runways during the war.  

 

Historical Notes

The main Lockheed plant and runways were made to appear as grain fields and houses, and the parking lot was covered over with netting to appear as alfalfa fields. In addition, an extensive smoke screen system was installed to hide the plant under smoke.*^^

 

 

 
(1948)* - Photograph caption dated March 4, 1948 reads, "Air transports of the TWA line pay frequent calls to the Lockheed Air Terminal located in the Valley at Burbank, the aerial city of California."  

 

Historical Notes

In 1947, when Mines Field was expanded to become Los Angeles' primary airport, this facility became a secondary airport. In 1978 the cities of Burbank, Glendale and Pasadena bought the airport and renamed it Burbank Glendale-Pasadena Airport. Lockheed continued in operation at the field for many years.*^^

 

 

 
(1949)^*^ - A publicity photo commemorating the Flying Tiger Line’s 1949 inaugural cargo flight out of Burbank.  

 

Historical Notes

The Flying Tiger was an L.A. based company that ferried cargo by air from 1945 until 1989. FedEx purchased the operation in 1989.^*^

 

 

 
(ca. 1960s)^ - Stewardesses from Pacific Southwest Airlines pose in front of an L-1011 TriStar engine to promote their new uniforms of cotton-candy pink, tangelo red, and pumpkin orange; designed to match the colored stripes of PSA's "Smiling Aircrafts". Taken at Hollywood-Burbank Airport.  

 

Historical Notes

The first stewardesses were actually nurses hired to make passengers feel safer. Women who wanted to be “sky girls” had to meet strict requirements. In addition to being single, they had to be under 25 years of age, under 5-feet-5 and under 116 pounds. Not only did they tend to passengers, they were also expected to haul luggage, fuel the plane and help pilots push the plane into the hanger after flights. "Stewardess" was replaced with the term: "flight attendant" in the 70s.^#*#

Between 1968 and 1984, Lockheed manufactured a total of 250 TriStars. The aircraft's sales were hampered by two years of delays due to developmental and financial problems at Rolls-Royce, the sole manufacturer of the TriStar's engines. After production ended, Lockheed withdrew from the commercial aircraft business due to its below-target sales.*^

 

 

 
(ca. 1960s)* - Aerial view of United Airport in Burbank, Calif.
 

 

 

 

 
(1961)* - Lockheed Air Terminal has had many names: United Airport (1930-1934); Union Air Terminal (1934-1940); Lockheed Air Terminal (1940-1967); Hollywood-Burbank Airport (1967-1978); Burbank-Glendale-Pasadena Airport (1978-2003) and Bob Hope Airport (2003-Present).  

 

Historical Notes

In 1967 Lockheed rechristened the facility with the more glamorous-sounding name of Hollywood-Burbank Airport. The facility remained Hollywood-Burbank Airport for over a decade until 1978 when Lockheed sold the airport to the Burbank-Glendale-Pasadena Airport Authority. At that time the airport acquired its fifth name: Burbank-Glendale-Pasadena Airport (1978–2003).*^

 

 

 
(ca. 1967)* - View of the San Fernando Valley, overlooking Burbank from Griffith Park. The Hollywood-Burbank Airport can be seen at lower-center.  

 

Historical Notes

On November 11, 2003 the airport authority voted to change the airport's name to Bob Hope Airport in honor of comedian Bob Hope, a longtime resident of nearby Toluca Lake, who had died earlier in the year and who had kept his personal airplane at the airfield. The new name was unveiled on December 17, 2003, on the 100th anniversary of the Wright brothers' first flight in 1903, the year that Bob Hope was born.*^

 

 

 
(2006)*^ - Aerial view of Bob Hope Airport as it appeared in 2006.  

 

Historical Notes

In 2005 the airport celebrated its 75th anniversary; in 2006 it served 5,689,291 travelers on seven major carriers, with more than 70 flights daily.*^

 

 

 

 
(2010)^##^ – View of front entrance to Bob Hope Airport with large banner reading: “Celebrating 80 Years of Service to Your Community”  

 

 

 

 

Mines Field to LAX

 
(1928)* - Crowds watch as Army biplanes take off at Mines Field (Los Angeles International Airport) in Westchester during the 1928 National Air Races, which ran from September 8-17.  

 

Historical Notes

The National Air Race was an air competition, comprised of a series of pylon and cross-country races, that took place annually from 1920 to 1949. Due to the rapid development of aviation science at that time, there was significant popular interest in this event.*

 

 

 

 
(1928)* - View shows the crowds of people attending the National Air Races, Mines Field, September 17, 1928.  

 

 

 

 

 
(1928)* - For the glory of the American army and the John L. Mitchell trophy, these brave men drive their planes 160 miles per hour today in the National Air races at Mines field. This is the First Pursuit group from Selfridge field, Michigan. Left to right: Major Ralph Royce, Flight commander, Air Corps; Captain Victor H. Strahm, Air Corps.; 1st Lieut. Rex K. Stoner, Air Corps.; 1st Lieut. John K. Cannon , Air Corps.; 1st Lieut. Julian B. Haddon, Air Corps.; 2nd Lieut. Frank G. Irvin, Air Corps.; 2nd Lieut. Frank D. Klein, Air Corps.; 2nd Lieut. Ernest H. Lawson, Air Corps.; 2nd Lieut. William H. Doolittle, Air Corps.; 2nd Lieut. Burton M. Hovey, Air Corps.; 2nd Lieut. Frank H. Robinson, Air Corps.; 2nd Lieut. John F. Egan, Air Corps.; 2nd Lieut. Trevor Kenyon, Air Res.; and 2nd Lieut. Robert L. Schoenlein, Air Corps.  

 

 

 

 
(1927)* - Col. Charles A. Lindbergh rides down Broadway in Los Angeles in a ticker-tape parade, Sept. 21, 1927. (Arrow points out Lindbergh in his car)  

 

Historical Notes

Charles Lindbergh's famous transatlantic flight in May 1927 convinced Los Angeles city leaders of the need for a permanent, municipal airport. With an improved runway and dedicated facilities, a city airport would encourage airmail and passenger traffic between Los Angeles and other aviation-friendly cities, while a permanent presence would allow airlines, maintenance companies, and other private enterprises to cluster around the site. In September 1927, Lindbergh himself, in Los Angeles on a nationwide victory lap, told a Coliseum crowd of roughly 60,000 that "airports are the most important factor in the development of aviation...I wish to say that if you expect to keep your city on the air map, it will be necessary to construct a municipal airport".**^

 

 

 
(1927)* - View of a parade honoring Col. Charles A. Lindbergh, as it passes in front several large buildings along Broadway and 10th Street, in Downtown Los Angeles. Col. Lindbergh (wearing a dark suit) can be seen sitting atop the seat at the rear of the car decorated entirely with white roses; then-Mayor Porter sits next to him. The parade took place on September 21, 1927, four months to the day after Col. Lindbergh flew solo non-stop from Roosevelt Field to Paris aboard the "Spirit of St. Louis".  

 

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1928)* - Wide angle view of Mines Field (later known as Los Angeles International Airport) showing the more important buildings.  

 

Historical Notes

In 1928, the Los Angeles City Council selected 640 acres (1.00 sq. mile) in the southern part of Westchester as the site of a new airport for the city. The fields of wheat, barley and lima beans were converted into dirt landing strips without any terminal buildings. It was named Mines Field for William W. Mines, the real estate agent who arranged the deal. The City signed a 10-year lease*

 

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1928)* - View of the administration building at Mines Field (later to become the Los Angeles International Airport)  

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1928)* - California Aerial Transport School and other buildings at Mines Field (later to become the Los Angeles International Airport)  

 

 

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1928)* - Flying service building at Mines Field (later known as Los Angeles International Airport)  

 

 

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1928)* - Administration building in foreground and hangars in background at Mines Field (later to become the L.A. International Airport)  

 

 

 

 
(1928)* - Fliers seeking Mines Field, new municipal airport and site of the National Air Races, will hereafter find the way pointed out to them unmistakably by six huge aerial markers.  

 

 

 

 
(1929)^* - Photo of monoplane in flight near Mines Field factory, 1929. The plane was made by Moreland Aircraft Company which was located at Mines Field.  

 

 

 

 
(1929)^*# - View of the Maddux Air Lines fleet at Mines Field.  

 

Historical Notes

In 1927 Jack L. Maddux, an owner of a Los Angeles Ford and Lincoln car dealership, founded Maddux Air Lines. The airline’s inaugural flight was on September 22, 1927 when the airline’s Ford 4-AT Tri-motor carrying 12 passengers flew from San Diego to Los Angeles.  This flight was to a small dirt landing strip that would later become Mines Field then Los Angeles International Airport, although the landing strip, called Inglewood Site, was not suitable for the airline, and Jack Maddux chose instead Rogers Airport, with improved facilities, and later Grand Central Air Terminal in Glendale.

On August 26, 1929 a Maddux Tri-motor, along with other aircraft, escorted the famous LZ 127 Graf Zeppelin airship to Mines Field where it stopped during its around the world flight.

Among the famous aviators who were involved with Maddux were Charles Lindbergh and Amelia Earhart. Maddux also had a publicity department that advertised the celebrities who flew with the airline. These included Will Rogers, who rode on the inaugural flight, and Hollywood actors Arthur Edmund Carewe and Dolores del Río.*^

 

 

 
(1929)^## - View of the Graf Zeppelin on a visit to Los Angeles' Mines Field during its first round-the-world trip.  

 

 

 

 
(1929)^* - Photograph of Graf Zeppelin at Mines Field during first round-the-world trip. The LZ-127 Graf Zeppelin was 776 feet long and 100 feet in diameter.  

 

Historical Notes

The Zeppelin was a type of rigid airship pioneered by the German Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin in the early 20th century. It was based on designs he had outlined in 1874 and detailed in 1893. His plans were reviewed by committee in 1894 and patented in the United States in 1899. Given the outstanding success of the Zeppelin design, the term zeppelin in casual use came to refer to all rigid airships.

Zeppelins were first flown commercially in 1910 by Deutsche Luftschiffahrts-AG (DELAG), the world's first airline in revenue service. By mid-1914, DELAG had carried over 34,000 passengers on over 1,500 flights. After the outbreak of World War I, the German military made extensive use of Zeppelins as bombers and scouts.*^

 

 

 
(1929)*#*^ - View of the Graf Zepelin on its "Around the World Trip".  

 

Historical Notes

In 1929, Graf Zeppelin made perhaps its most famous flight; a round-the-world voyage covering 21,2500 miles in five legs from Lakehurst to Friedrichshafen, Friedrichshafen to Tokyo, Tokyo to Los Angeles, Los Angeles to Lakehurst, and then Lakehurst to Friedrichshafen again.*#*^

 

 

 
(1929)^* - Close-up view of the 776-foot-long Graf Zeppelin docked at Mines Field, the present-day site of the Los Angeles International Airport during its first round-the-world trip.  

 

Historical Notes

The round-the-world-trip was partly sponsored by American newspaper publisher William Randolph Hearst, who paid for about half the cost of the flight in return for exclusive media rights in the United States and Britain.*#*^

 

 

 
(1929)^* - Another view of the Graf Zeppelin from the side facing left, with people and automobiles visible beneath it.  

 

Historical Notes

In 1930, the Graf Zeppelin began regular transatlantic commercial flights. It had 20 sleeping berths for passengers and a crew of 36. Its first flight was in 1928, its last in 1937, after 590 total flights. The Graf Zeppelin was retired one month after the Hindenberg disaster.*^

 

 

 

 
(1929)^* - Photograph of the Graf Zeppelin and the small Goodyear pony blimp floating (or parked?) next to each other, 1929. The Graf Zeppelin is about ten times the size of the Goodyear blimp. Both the blimps are on the other side of the fence in the foreground. Several warning signs are posted up including a no-parking sign.  

 

 

 

 

 
(1929)^## - Closer view of the Goodyear Blimp alongside the Graf Zeppelin showing the size disparity.  

 

 

 

 

 
(1930)^* - Photograph of a Goodyear Blimp over Mines Field, February 7, 1930. The large blimp with the logo of "Goodyear" flies at center with "Volunteer NC-8-A" printed on one of its fin-like features at right. The empty, dirt field lies below.  

 

Historical Notes

Goodyear began producing airship envelopes in 1911 and introduced its own blimp, Since 1928, Goodyear had named its blimps after the U.S. winners of the America's Cup yacht race. This naming method is attributed to then-Goodyear CEO Paul W. Litchfield, who viewed the airships as being like yachts in the sky. Although that practice deviated with the introduction of the Spirit of Akron in 1987, the Florida-based Stars & Stripes would be the last to carry this honor, ending in 2005.

According to the Goodyear website, the three active GZ-20 blimps are 192 feet long, 59.5 feet tall, and 50 feet wide. For comparison, the largest airships ever built, the Zeppelin company's Hindenburg, LZ-129, and the Graf Zeppelin II, LZ-130, were 804 feet long and 135 feet in diameter. That is, over four times as long and over twice as wide as the current Goodyear blimps.*^

 

 

 
(1930)^* - Photograph of the Goodyear Blimp at Mines Field, February 7, 1930. The blimp with the logo of "Goodyear" flies above the large, lightly-colored "Curtiss Wright Flying Service" at left. The building has two towers, on its front wall, one which displays the American flag. The building has many tall, arched windows and doors. Automobiles sit parked in the empty, dirt field at left and in the foreground.  

 

 

 

 
(1930)* - Aerial view of Mines Field and surroundings; Mines Field later to become the Los Angeles International Airport. This photo was taken just before the airport was dedicated as the new official airport of Los Angeles.  

 

Historical Notes

Wheat, barley and lima beans once grew where the Mines Field was first developed. Back in the 1920s it was part of Southern California's prosperous ranching business. The city's energetic Chamber of Commerce promoted the idea of building a municipal airport on the land even though flying was still a wing and a prayer activity. There was no federal money for airport investment, but the city fathers decided it was a risk worth taking. In 1928 they chose Mines Field from a list of 27 possible sites.^**

 

 

 
(1930)* - Dedication of Mines Field (later L.A. International Airport) watched by large crowd and with lots of planes flying overhead.  

 

Historical Notes

Mines Field was dedicated and opened as the official airport of Los Angeles in 1930, and the city purchased it to be a municipal airfield in 1937. The name was officially changed to Los Angeles Airport in 1941, and to Los Angeles International Airport in 1949. The main airline airports for Los Angeles had been Burbank Airport (then known as Union Air Terminal, and later Lockheed) and the Grand Central Airport in Glendale. By 1940 most airlines served Burbank only; in late 1946 most airline flights moved to LAX, but Burbank always retained a few.^*

 

 

 
(1930)* - Crowds of people attended the dedication of the airport on June 7, 1930. Many planes can be seen parked on the runway.
 

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1931)** - Aerial view of Los Angeles Municipal Airport (now LAX) on Army Day.  

 

 

 

 

 
(1933)^*^# - Jean Harlow posed on a 1932 Auburn Boat-tailed Speedster along with race organizer Cliff Henderson. The photo was taken at the 1933 National Air Race held at Mines Field, now the site of LAX.  

 

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1930s)* - Two hangars, one with name Morton Air Service above it, at Mines Field (later to become the L.A. International Airport)  

 

 

 

 

 
(1937)* - View of Mines Field (later to become the Los Angeles International Airport). Two cars are parked outside one of the buildings.  

 

Historical Notes

In 1937, the City of Los Angeles purchased Mines Field outright. Four years later, it passed a $3.5 million bond issue for new construction, renamed the site Los Angeles Airport, and began converting the modest aviation facility into the major airport that would escort Los Angeles into the Jet Age.**^

 

 

 
(1939)* - Aerial view of Mines Field (Los Angeles Municpal Airport at time of photo). The field was sold to the City of Los Angeles by Wiliam W. Mines in 1937 upon which the name was changed to Los Angeles Municipal Airport  

 

Historical Notes

Despite the city's support and investments, Mines Field, which featured a 2,000-foot runway and hangar space for 40 planes, would not become the region's principal aviation terminus until the 1940s. That distinction was held for nearly two decades by Burbank's Lockheed Field (today, Bob Hope Airport), through which most airlines routed their planes. Other important airports were located in Alhambra, Van Nuys (Metropolitan Airport), Glendale (Grand Central Air Terminal), and the present-day City of Commerce (Vail Field).**^

 

 

 
(1939)^* - Aerial view of Los Angeles Municipal Airport after the City of Los Angeles purchased it outright.  

 

 

 

 
(1941)* - This photo of the Municipal Airport, the first to be taken under special permission of the War Department illustrates the necessity of completing the airport project for national defense. The field is overcrowded with new planes. Most of these are United States Navy trainers ready for final tests. At extreme right are two trainers for the British awaiting delivery to Canada. An average of 30 test hops is made daily at the uncompleted airport.  

 

Historical Notes

Los Angeles Municipal Airport (Mines Field), was used extensively during the war by the Army Air Forces, Navy and local aircraft manufacturers, and continued to function as a commercial airport. The Air Transport Command and Air Technical Service Command had operations here and there was also a large military air freight terminal.*^^

 

 

 

 
(n.d.)* - Two hangars, one with name Morton Air Service above it, at Mines Field (later to become the L.A. International Airport)  

 

 

 

 

 

 
(1946)#^- Early morning panoramic view of scores of jackrabbits watching activities at Los Angeles Municipal Airport, slated to open to major airlines on December 9, 1946.  

 

Historical Notes

Commercial airline service started in December 1946 and on July 10, 1956 Boeing's 707 prototype (the 367-80) visited LAX. The Los Angeles Times said it was its first appearance at a "commercial airport" outside the Seattle area.*^

 

 

 

 

 

 
(1953)***# - A Pan American Airlines Stratocruiser maneuvering over the newly constructed Sepulveda Tunnel at LAX in 1953.  To its left is the Lockheed Constellation, preferred by TWA at the time.  

 

Historical Notes

Mines Field did not extend west of Sepulveda Boulevard.  Sepulveda was rerouted circa 1950 to loop around the west ends of the extended east–west runways (now runways 25L and 25R), which by November 1950 were 6,000 feet long. A tunnel was completed in 1953 allowing Sepulveda Boulevard to revert to straight and pass beneath the two runways; it was the first tunnel of its kind. For the next few years the two runways were 8,500 feet long.*^

 

 

 

 
(1953)* - Cars and trucks go through Sepulveda Airport Underpass in a final testing prior to the opening of the $3,500,000 tunnel.
 

 

 

 

 
(1956)**# - View of the control tower at Los Angeles International Airport.  

 

 

 

 
(1957)#* - View showing passengers boarding an American Airlines DC-7 aircraft at Los Angeles Airport. This is the Flagship Wisconsin, fleet number 323 on the nose landing gear door. A Volkwagen panel van is to the right.  

 

Historical Notes

The Douglas DC-7 was built by the Douglas Aircraft Company from 1953 to 1958. It was the last major piston-engine powered transport made by Douglas, coming just a few years before the advent of jet aircraft such as the Boeing 707 and Douglas DC-8.*^

 

 

 
(1958)^^# - LAX fogged in. American Airlines flight engineer Frank Nusser, left, and Capt. Don Young wait by their aircraft for fog to lift at Los Angeles International Airport. Photo by John Malmin  

 

Historical Notes

In 1958 the architecture firm Pereira & Luckman was contracted to design a master plan for the complete re-design of the airport in anticipation of the "jet age." The plan, developed along with architects Welton Becket and Paul Williams, called for a massive series of terminals and parking structures to be built in the central portion of the property, with these buildings connected at the center by a huge steel-and-glass dome. The plan was never realized, and shortly thereafter the Theme Building was constructed on the site originally intended for the dome.*^

 

 

 
(1960)^* - LAX’s Theme Building under construction in 1960. Airport Commission president Don Belding waves a flag in the foreground.  

 

Historical Notes

The Theme Building is an iconic landmark structure at the Los Angeles International Airport. It opened in 1961, and is an example of the Mid-Century modern influenced design school known as "Googie" or "Populuxe”. *^

 

 

 
(1960)^* - View of the new 'Theme Building' as last steel girder is put in place.  

 

Historical Notes

The original design for the airport created by Pereira & Luckman in 1959 had all the terminal buildings and parking structures connected to a huge glass dome, which would serve as a central hub for traffic circulation. The plan was eventually scaled down considerably and the terminals were constructed elsewhere on the property. The Theme Building was subsequently built to mark the spot intended for the dome structure, as a reminder of the original plan.*^

 

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1961)*** - Structural steel and scaffolding, Theme Building LAX  

 

Historical Notes

The appearance of the building as a single homogenous structure is a cleverly constructed illusion. The building's two crossed arches actually consist of four steel-reinforced concrete legs that extend approximately 15' above the ground, and a hollow, stucco-covered steel truss constituting the remaining lower arches and entire upper arches. To avoid changing the appearance of the structure with overt reinforcement, the Theme Building was retrofitted with a tuned mass damper to counteract earthquake movements.*^

 

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1961)*** - Maintenance garages and Theme Building LAX  

 

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1961)*** - LAX Theme Building, by Julius Shulman.  

 

Hitorical Notes

The distinctive white building resembles a flying saucer that has landed on its four legs.  It was designed by a team of architects and engineers headed by William Pereira and Charles Luckman, that also included Paul Williams and Welton Becket. The initial design of the building was created by James Langenheim, of Pereira & Luckman.*^

 

 

 
(1961)^* - Photograph of a close-up of the parabolic arches at the Los Angeles International Airport, in November 1961 shortly after the building was completed. The arches sweep over a large circular restaurant at center, and a round area lined with windows sprouts from an unseen base.  

 

Historical Notes

Originally the the restaurant on top rotated slowly giving the visitors a 360-degree dining experience, however, it is now stationary.*^

 

 

 
(1962)**# - View of the Theme Building and its parking lot. Note the stylish multi-head streetlights surrounding the building. Click HERE to see more in Early Los Angeles Streetlights.  

 

 

 

 
(1960s)#^* – View of a cab driver walking around his car while two women, luggage in hand, cross the street.  The Theme Building stands in the background.  

 

 

 

 
(1961)^* - Dedication of new International Airport for jets, June 22, 1961.
 

 

Historical Notes

The control tower as seen above served as the Los Angeles Airport's main control tower until April 1996 when it was replaced by the new LAX Control Tower. The old tower is currently being used as LAX offices. 

 

 

 
(1961)* - Photo of then Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson speaking at the new jet age terminal dedicated June 25, 1961. Control tower rises in the background.  

 

 

 

 
(1961)^* - Photograph of an aerial view of the control tower administration building at the new jet age terminal at Los Angeles International Airport, in September 1961.  

 

 

 

 
(1961)* - An air traffic controller at work inside the control tower at Los Angeles international Airport. Two Trans World Airlines (TWA) planes can be seen in the background.  

 

 

 

 
(1962)* - Aerial view of the Los Angeles International Airport.  

 

Historical Notes

The present terminal complex was constructed in 1961. In the early 1980s, LAX added domestic and international terminals and a second-level roadway.^^*

 

 

 
(1962)* - Aerial view of Los Angeles International Airport.  

 

 

 

 
(1963)* - Aerial view of International Airport's new terminal.  

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1971)^*# - Aerial view of LAX showing five terminals surrounding the Theme Building. The satellite terminals were connected via underground tunnels.  

 

 

 

 
(1971)^* - View of the runways and theme building at the Los Angeles International Airport, taken by James Caldwell, in February 1971.  

 

 

 

 
(1973)* - Aerial view of Los Angeles International Airport with control tower and Theme Building.  

 

 

 

 
(1978)* - Photograph caption dated August 27, 1978 reads, "Finding a place to park at Los Angeles International can be a traveler's major problem."  

 

 

 

 
(n.d.)* - Theme Building at the Los Angeles International Airport in the foreground with a sweeping view of the airport seen from the air.
 

 

Historical Notes

A $4 million renovation, with retro-futuristic interior and electric lighting designed by Walt Disney Imagineering, was completed before the "Encounter Restaurant" opened there in 1997. Visitors are able to take an elevator up to the Observation Level of the "Theme Building", located on the roof of the Encounter Restaurant. After the September 11 attacks, the Observation Level was closed for security reasons. Following a $12.3 million restoration of the building completed in 2010, the observation level re-opened to the public on weekends.  On September 9th, 2003, a permanent memorial honoring those who perished in the attacks of September 11th was opened on the grounds of the Theme Building.*^

 

 

 
(1960s)* - Theme Building at the Los Angeles International Airport illuminated at night.  

 

Historical Notes

The Los Angeles City Council designated the building a cultural and historical monument (No. 570) in 1992. Click HERE to see the complete LA Historic Cultural Monument List.

 

 

 

 

 
(n.d.)* - A 747 Jumbo Jet takes off from LAX. The Theme Building is seen in the background.
 

 

Final Note

In 2011, LAX was the sixth busiest airport in the world after Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, Beijing Capital International Airport, London Heathrow Airport, Chicago O'Hare International Airport, and Tokyo Haneda International Airport with 61,862,052 passengers. It is the only airport to rank among the top five U.S. airports for both passenger and cargo traffic. LAX is also the busiest airport in California and the West Coast of the United States in terms of flight operations, passenger traffic and air cargo activity, leading it to be referred to as the "Gateway to the Pacific Rim". *^

 

 

* * * * *

 

 

 

For more Historical Los Angeles Views click one of the following:

 

 

For Other Historical Views click one of the following:

 

 

See Our Newest Sections:

 

 

To see how Water and Electricity shaped the history of Los Angeles click one of the following:

 

Water:

 

 

Power:

 

* * * * *

 

 

References and Credits

* LA Public Library Image Archive

^ Oviatt Library Digital Archives

^*USC Digital Archive

**Los Angeles Times Photographic Archive: Municipal Airport; Spruce Goose; Alhambra Airport Dedication

^^Aerofiles - US Aviation Firsts

*#Abandoned & Little-Known Airfields – Paul Freeman

#*Huntington Digital Library Archive

#^Flickr.com: Michael Ryerson

**#UCLA Library Digital Collections

#**Theatlantic.com: Northrop XB-35

#*^This Day in Aviation: Lockheed Vega 1

#^*Vintage Photos of LA - Facebook.com: Theme Building

^*#Noirish Los Angeles - forum.skyscraperpage.com; Bob's Airmail Service Station; LAX Aerial; Rogers Airfield; Multiplane Crash; Alhambra Airport

**^KCET.org:  From Mines Field to LAX: The Early History of L.A. International Airport; Welcome to L.A. River

***Pinterest: LAX Theme Building; Theme Building 2; Theme Building 3; Hughes XH-17 “Flying Crane”; Northrop YB-35

*^^California State Military Museum - Mines Field; Lockheed Air Terminal

^**Dmairfield.com: Mines Field

*#*San Diego Air & Space Museum Archive

*^#Van Nuys Airport History

^#*theautry.org - From the Ground Up: The Infrastructure of Flight in Southern California

^^^Airliners.net: The Wings of the Net: 1929 Fokker

^^#LA Times: Arcadia Balloon School and Ross Field; LAX Fogged In

^^*Los Angeles World Airpots: LAX

*#^LA World Airports - History of Van Nuys Airport

^#^FriendsReunited.co.uk: Northrop YB-49 Bomber

^## Facebook.com: Photos of Time Travelers; Bill Gabel's Photos of L.A./Zeppelin

#^^LAtaco.com: Zep Diner

*^* Seaplanes of the Magic Isle

^*^ Nuestra Señora la Reina de los Ángeles: losangelespast.com

****Pasadena Museum of History

^*^^South Bay Daily Breeze: Seaplanes to Catalina

^^^^Pinterest/Santa Monica Past: Douglas Aircraft

^**^California State Library Image Archive

^***Earlyaviators.com: Roy Knabenshue

*^*#Santa Monica Municipal Airport

^*##SantaMonicablog.com

*^*^Pinterest: Appreciation of History - Reddit.com

^*^*San Fernando Valley Relics - Facebook.com: Burbank Airport; Angeles Mesa Drive Airport (Burbank Airport)

*#*#Los Angeles Then and Now: Douglas' Dream Took Wing in Santa Monica

*##*Wehadfacesthen.tumblr.com

^##^Pasadena PIO: Bob Hope Airport

*#*^Airships.net: Graf Zeppelin

^^#^Facebook.com - Great Photos from Los Angeles' Past: Rogers Airfield

*#^#Flickr.com: Walking Over Santa Monica

^#*#Burbankairport.com

^*^#Facebook.com - Bizarre Los Angeles

^#^#Pinterest: Bygone Los Angeles: Vintage L.A.: Spruce Goose

**##Alhambra Airport

#^^^Calisphere Digital Archive

***# Flightpath.us

***^ Pomona Public Library Digital Archive: Bob's Airmail Service Station

*^ Wikipedia: Los Angeles International Airport; 1910 L.A. International Air Meet at Dominguez Hills; Bob Hope Airport; Grand Central Airport; Airship; Zeppelin; Theme Building; William Wrigley, Jr.; Spirit of St. Louis; Lockheed Hudson; Douglas DC-3; Amelia Earhart; Maddux Air Lines; Carthay Circle; Hughes Airport; Hughes H-4 Hercules; Howard Hughes; Hughes Helicopters; Playa Vista; Northrop YB-35; Jack Northrop; Norhtrop YB-49; History of Santa Monica; Boeing 247; Hughes H-1 Racer; Charles Lindbergh; L-1011 Tristar; Leslie Brand; Van Nuys Airport; Douglas DC-7

 

< Back