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March 23 , 2011

Soaring Skyward

A History of Aviation in and around Long Beach, California


Flying was a perilous adventure, with death only a small breath away. Many lost their lives in pursuit of their dream and have remained relatively forgotten, until now. (italics until now) “Aviation fever” struck young and old alike, especially after the four Dominguez Air Meets held in Southern California between 1910-1913. It inspired many such as the Birnie and French brothers, Charles Day, and Glenn Martin to build their own air ships. For others like Frank Champion, Long Beach’s first airman, it meant learning from the best – -traveling to London, England, to study with Louis Bleriot, and going on to teach others, such as Long Beach Airport founder Earl Daugherty, to fly. There were also daring women: Tiny and Ethel Broadwick, who parachuted out of airplanes when many men refused to do so because they considered it “too dangerous;” Gladys O’Donnell instrumental in founding the Women’s Air Derby; World War II ferrying pilots, led by Barbara Erickson London, whose service to America was not recognized until 1977; Dianna Bixby and Joan Merriam Smith trying to complete Amelia Earhart’s dream of circumnavigating the globe. Soaring Skyward (italics for title) introduces remarkable men and women who embraced the dangers and challenges of flight. It also tells the story of the Long Beach Municipal Airport, the center of much of Southern California’s aviation history. The early days of ballooning, air circuses, parachute jumps, barnstorming, air meets, forgotten military sites and much more are all explored in this well documented look into the past, and future, of aviation in Southern California. After twenty years of extensive research, Ms. Burnett’s book is sure to open up new sources of information for aviation and history enthusiasts, and most definitely shed additional light on the past.
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