Some Aviation Highlights in Los Angeles County

Postcard for the 1910 Los Angeles International Air Meet in Dominguez Hills. Stettler Aeronautical Collection, Courtesy Dick Stettler via Early Aeroplanes.

1910 - For ten days, the world's first international Air Meet is held at Dominguez Field. The first powered flight in the west occurs at this event.

1911 - Calbraith "Cal" Perry Rodgers makes the first transcontinental airplane flight and first transcontinental air mail delivery from New York to Pasadena from September 17 to November 5 aboard his Wright Model EX aircraft Vin Fiz (named for a soft drink). He makes 70 stops and experiences a number of mechanical difficulties and crash landings along the way, spending 82 hours and 4 minutes in the air. He finally lands in Pasadena before a crowd of 20,000 people to greet him. On December 10, despite a delay due to a crash landing in Compton a month before, he completes his final leg by landing in Long Beach and taxing his plane into the Pacific Ocean. A crowd of 50,000 were on hand to witness the event.

Cal Rodgers greeted and wrapped in a flag at his arrival in Pasadena, 1911. Courtesy of Library of Congress.

1913 - On June 21, over Los Angeles, Georgia "Tiny" Broadwick becomes the first women to parachute from an airplane.

Pioneering parachutist Georgia "Tiny" Broadwick, 1913. Photo from Kokomo Daily Tribune, Aug. 27, 1913, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

1921 - Amelia Earhart Putnam's flying career begins in Los Angeles when, at age 24, she takes flying lessons from Neta Snook and buys her first airplane.

1923 - Construction begins on the Grand Central Airport in Glendale. It offers the first paved runway west of the Rocky Mountains.

1924 - The first airplane to ever fly around the world is built in Santa Monica. It is a Douglas World Cruiser named New Orleans.

Douglas Aircraft Factory in Santa Monica, 1924. Douglas World Cruiser in lower right. Courtesy of San Diego Air & Space Museum.

1928 - The Grand Central Air Terminal opens in at Glendale's Grand Central Airport. It provides the first air passenger service in the region.

Grand Central Terminal in Glendale, 1936. Courtesy of Library of Congress.

1929 - A U.S. Army Air Corps Atlantic-Fokker C-2A named Question Mark, piloted by future Air Force Chief of Staff Carl A. Spaatz, takes off from Metropolitan Airport in Van Nuys, on January 1, 1929, to set a world flight endurance record of 150 hours, 40 minutes, 14 seconds. He circles over Southern California while being refueled 42 times (9 times at night), and lands on January 7.

Goodyear begins operating the first of its blimps, Volunteer, over the Los Angeles area.

Charles Lindbergh takes off from Grand Central Airport in Glendale to inaugurate the first air passenger service between Southern California and the East Coast.

1930 - Laura Ingalls lands in Glendale to become the first woman to fly solo across the United States.

Mines Field opens (future Los Angeles International Airport - LAX) and is named Los Angeles Municipal Airport.

Mines Field, circa 1930. Hanger One at the left still stands at LAX as a historic landmark. Photo courtesy of National Register of Historic Places & Library of Congress.

1932- On August 24, Amelia Earhart Putnam takes off from Los Angeles to make the first solo nonstop transcontinental flight across the United States by a woman. Her flight ends in Newark, New Jersey.

Amelia Earhart standing below the nose of a Lockheed Electra, 1937. Courtesy of Smithsonian Instituiion.

1933 - Two pilots, New Jersey surgeon Albert Forsythe and Charles Anderson, land at Grand Central Airport, becoming the first African Americans to complete a transcontinental flight. The historic journey leads to the creation of a famed World War II corps of black aviators.

1935 - On April 19-20, by invitation of the Mexican government, Amelia Earhart Putnam takes off from Los Angeles to become the first person to fly solo from Los Angeles to Mexico City.

The first DC-3 is rolled out on December 17 by the Douglas Aircraft Company. Many DC-3s are still flying today.

Douglas DC-3 on Dislay at Flight Path Museum & Learning Center, Los Angeles International Airport. Los Angeles Almanac Photo.

1946 - Commercial airline service begins at Los Angeles Airport (Mines Field), the future Los Angeles International Airport.

1958 - The first TV news helicopter is introduced in Los Angeles by KTLA Channel 5 on July 4. It is known as the "Telecopter."

1959 - Passenger jet service (via Boeing 707-123 Astrojet) is inaugurated on January 25 by American Airlines from Los Angeles International Airport to New York. The crew consisted of Captain Lou Szabo, Flight Engineer Bill Duncan, Flight Engineer Norman Rice, Stewardesses Claire Bullock, Edna Garrett, Argie Hoskins and Marilyn Rutkowski. Airline president Cyrus Rowlett Smith was also a passenger aboard. 25,000 spectators showed up to see the flight off.

A contemporary American Airlines jet takes off from Los Angeles International Airport today. Los Angeles Almanac Photo.


Note: Special thanks to Rick Reaser for contributing information regarding the 1929 world flight endurance record.