50 years ago, human beings accomplished what was arguably our most amazing engineering feat ever – to set foot upon the surface of the moon. Downey had an important part in making that happen.
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1910. Promotional poster for America's first international "air meet" (aviation show), held at Dominguez Field in present-day Carson. The Wright brothers had made their first flight at Kitty Hawk less than seven years earlier, so aircraft were still a new and wondrous technology. The 1910 air meet was among the earliest in the world and first in the United States. It featured 43 aviators from around the country and four from France. They flew propellor-driven biplanes, monoplanes, balloons, and dirigibles. An estimated 254,000 tickets were sold for the 11-day event and each day averaged 20,000 spectators. Aviators competed for prize money as high as $10,000 (about $270,000 in 2019 dollars). The meet inspired the birth of aviation manufacturing in the Los Angeles area, including Allen and Malcolm Loughead in 1912 (Lockheed Corporation), Glenn L. Martin in 1913 (Martin Marietta Corporation, later merged with Lockheed), and Donald Douglas in 1920 (Douglas Aircraft, later McDonnell Douglas). It also inspired young spectators such as John Northrop and James Doolittle who, later themselves, became aviation legends.
Four Apollo astronauts who set foot on the moon and their significant ties to Los Angeles County.
When Bob Thompson helped build Apollo spacecraft in Downey during the 1960s, the economy boomed. Then, the "lift-off" of the space program turned into a letdown.