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American Aviation Historical Society

American Aviation Historical Society

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Published by CAP History Library
Jan 2010
Jan 2010

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Categories:Types, Research, Genealogy
Published by: CAP History Library on Nov 28, 2011
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January 2010 marks the 100thanniversary of the first internationalaviation meet (air meet) held in theUnited States. The location wasDominguez Field, part of an old Mexicanland grant that is now the Los Angelessuburb of Carson, California.Dominguez Field adjoined the present-day campus of California StateUniversity (CSU), Dominguez Hills.Interest in aviation had been rapidlygrowing in the U.S. since the Wright brothers, first powered flights. Thisinterest was accelerated with the newscoverage of the First International Air Meet held in Reims, France, in 1909.Shortly after the Reims event agroup of air enthusiasts and pilots at anaviation event in St. Louis, Mo.,discussed the possibility of holding anair meet in Los Angeles. This groupincluded Charles Willard, RoyKnabenshue and Glenn Curtiss. Thegroup was determined to explore this project and sent Dick Ferris to LosAngeles to establish preliminary contactsand finalize the plans for the event.Momentum for the Aviation Meet beganto build with invitations being sent to pilots to participate, including LouisPaulhan, a well known French aviator of the time.The dates January 10-20, 1910, wereset, a site was selected and work beganon constructing grandstands. PacificElectric extended an existing trolley lineand built a station to help handle thelarge number of spectators that wereexpected to attend. The organizers invit-ed a variety of participants. includingoperators of hot air balloons and dirigi- bles as well as airplanes. Prizes wereestablished for scheduled events thatincluded altitude, speed and endurancecompetitions.
The Participants
The final list of participants wasGlenn Curtiss, Louis Paulhan, CharlesWillard, Didier Masson, LincolnBeachey, Roy Knabenshue, and CharlesHamilton.Paulhan was the heavyweightfavorite at the event, having arrived withtwo Bleriot monoplanes, two Farman biplanes and an entourage that includedhis wife and a black poodle. He didn’tdisappoint the crowd with his performance and would be the top prizewinner of the event. He established anumber of firsts during the competition.One was that he gave William RandolphHearst his first plane ride. He also took Lt. Paul Beck of the U.S. Army up on aflight. During the flight, Lt. Beck 
#170,First Quarter 2010
American Aviation Historical Society
Highlights of What’s Inside:
Postcard commemorating the Aviation Meet. (From the CSUDominguez Hillsarchives)
100th Anniversary of the FirstInternational Aviation Meet in U.S.
Poster promoting the Aviation Meet.
Text in blue is linked to its subject matter 
 performed what was essentially the first bombing test bydropping weighted bags at markers located on the ground.Charles K. Hamilton was one of the first aviation barnstormers. He took up hot air ballooning and parachute jumping at circuses and fairs at the age of 18. By the 1910Aviation Meet, he had been piloting dirigibles with RoyKnabenshue, toured Japan in a dirigible and in 1909 had become an exhibition pilot for Glenn Curtiss. After the Meet,he went on to win $10,000 ($220,000)
for flying from NewYork City to Philadelphia in June and participated in the NewYork International Air Meet in October. He joined theMoisant’s International Aviators touring the U.S. in 1911.While performing in El Paso, Tex., he used his plane to observetroop movements over Cuidad Juarez, Mexico, betweenMexican Government troops and rebels – one of the earliestrecorded uses of a plane for military purposes.Arace car driver and Harvard graduate, Charles Willardwas one of Glenn Curtiss’first students. He went on to becomeGlenn Martin’s chief engineer and help design flying boats for Curtiss.Roy Knabenshue was one of the first dirigible pilots, piloting the “California Arrow” at theSt. Louis World’s Fair in 1904. In 1909 he becamethe manager of the Wright Brothers ExhibitionFlying Team responsible for booking their events.Lincoln Beachey and Glenn Curtiss are wellknown for their aviation exploits, so are notaddressed in this article.
The Event
The Los Angles International Aviation Meetkicked off on January 10, 1910, as scheduled. Anopening day crowd estimated at 20,000, includingmost of Los Angeles’prominent business men andsociety people, witnessed a display of aerial featsfrom early afternoon until dark. According to the
 Los Angeles Times
, all went home “wild over avia-tion.” Over the course of the 11-day event it is esti-mated that more than 225,000 people attended themeet. Financially it wasa success with gatereceipts totaling morethan $137,000 ($3M),which do not includeancillary revenues for food and transportationgenerated by the event.The 1910 Meet wasconsidered by many tohave helped alleviate a perceived economicdrought in the area. It isconsidered by some tohave been instrumentalin launching the aviationindustry in the L.A. basin that would grow toinclude Douglas, Northrop, Lockheed,and North American,among others.Paulhan and Curtiss would go on to win most of the prizes,with the other participants putting in a competitive showing.The unofficial results and prize money awards are shown in theaccompanying table as presented in the January 21, 1910,
 Los Angeles Times
. Published results from other sources indicatethat Paulhan’s total winnings were $14,000 ($66,300), whileCurtiss took home $6,500 ($143,000).
 Figures shown in parenthesis are the current dollar valueequivalents in today’s money. Editors note: California State University Dominguez Hills is conducting a fund raiser to honor the 100th anniver- sary of the Los Angeles International Aviation Meet. These funds will go to producing a PBS quality documentary along with a companion coffee table book, DVD, and a physical/dig-ital archive. For more information go tohttp://csudh.edu/1910airmeet/fundraiser.
 AAHS FLIGHTLINE No. 170, First Quarter 201
Best Speed during Meet (10 laps)First$3,000 ($66,000)Glenn Curtiss 23:43.4Second$2,000 ($44,000)Louis Paulhan 24:59.4Third$500 ($11,000)Charles K. Hamilton 30:34.6Endurance, best during MeetFirst$3,000 ($66,000)Louis Paulhan 1:58:32 / 75.77 milesSecond$2,000 ($44,000)Glenn Curtiss 1:35:05 / 37.05 milesThird$500 ($11,000)Charles K. Hamilton 39:40 / 19.44 milesHeight at any time during MeetFirst$3,000 ($66,000)Louis Paulhan – 4,165 ft.Second$2,000 ($44,000)Charles K. Hamilton 626 ft.Third$500 ($11,000)Glenn Curtiss (not recorded)Slowest lap during Meet$500 ($11,000)Charles K. Hamilton 3:36.4Quickest takeoff$250 ($5,500)Glenn Curtiss 6.4 sec.Shortest takeoff distance$250 ($5,500)Glenn Curtiss 98 ft.Starting & Landing in Square$250 ($5,500)Charles F. WillardCross-Country (distance)$10,000 ($220,000)Louis Paulhan – 45 miles / 1:02:42.8
* Numbers in parentheses are the current-day, dollar-value equivalents.
 Aviators walk the track in front of the grandstand. (l-r) Jerome Fanguilla(Glenn Curtiss' manager), Glenn Curtiss, Didier Masson, Louis Paulhan,Charles Miscarol and Charles Willard. (From the CSUDominguez Hillsarchives)
Almost 70 years ago, in the skies over America, the soundsof U.S. Navy, Army Air Force, and Coast Guard aircraft could be heard training and preparing for war. Now, these soundslive again, as a North American P-51D Mustang, GeneralMotors built TBM Avenger, or one of the 30 other militaryvintage aircraft, start engines in preparation to fly. Once againthey take to the skies accompanied by the mighty roar of anAllison, Pratt & Whitney, or Merlin engine.This is all at the Military Aviation Museum located at 1341Princess Anne Blvd, Virginia Beach, Virginia. The museumhouses one of the largest private collections of propeller-drivenairworthy fighters, bombers, trainers and seaplanes, spanningthe time of military aviation from before WWI through theKorean War era.The museum’s vintage military aircraft are available for flight demonstrations, static display, movie production,commercials, and air shows. Most important, the aircraft andmany items of ground support equipment are available for general viewing from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. every day of theyear, except Thanksgiving and Christmas.They fly off the 5,000-foot long strip of Virginia BeachAirport (42VA). The strip was designed and used to supportagricultural crop dusting and banner towing, and still is.The 110-acre land parcel was purchased in 2003 andshortly thereafter an Art Deco-style 64,000 square foot singlehangar with two large bays was started. In the process of creating the museum’s hangar, a 1937 100-foot tall red andwhite checkered water tower was disassembled, moved fromKentucky, and reassembled on location as part of the firesuppression system.Even though the hangar was completed in 2003and opened to the publicon the first of May 2008,the site is not complete.Approval has beengranted for the buildingof a 16,000 square footmaintenance hangar for the relocation of theFighter Factory. TheFighter Factory is theindispensable mainte-nance component of themuseum, and is locatedat Suffolk ExecutiveAirport (SFQ). Withoutthe maintenance team of the Fighter Factory,headed by Don Anklin,the aircraft would notfly. It not only maintains
 AAHS FLIGHTHLINE No. 170, First Quarter 2010 www.aahs-online.org 
History Lives at the Military Aviation Museum
by Felix Usis
B-25J "Wild Cargo," 44-30129, N7946C, makes a low passon arrival at the museum August 29, 2008. Right: Detail of the noseart on this beautifully restored airplane. (All photos by author)
Poster promoting the museum’s 2010 airshow - Well worth attending.

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