From Biplanes to Bombers:
Santa Monica Airport’s First Fifty years, 1917-1967

Image Credit:  Santa Monica History Museum, Evening Outlook Collection.
Biplane at Santa Monica Airport, 1920s
Image Credit: Santa Monica History Museum, Evening Outlook Collection. Biplane at Santa Monica Airport, 1920s

On Saturday, October 13th, the Santa Monica History Museum invites you to join us for our newest exhibition, From Biplanes to Bombers: Santa Monica Airport’s First Fifty Years, 1917-1967.” The museum will present the early history of the airport and its development over the years. Photographs of the World Cruisers, Amelia Earhart, and Douglas employees will be shown. Artifacts on display will include Douglas Aircraft plane parts, radios, and flight suits.

 

Once known as Clover Field, Santa Monica Airport’s usage as a landing strip dates to at least 1917. Airplane mania hit Santa Monica in the 1910s, with spirited young locals building homemade flying machines in their garages. Cecil B. DeMille wrote about learning to fly at Clover Field in his autobiography; the airport was also used as a location for silent films. Douglas Aircraft’s rapid development in Santa Monica in the early-1920s led the company to produce the airplanes that would complete the first Round the World Flight in 1924. Three of the open-cockpit World Cruiser planes left Clover Field in Santa Monica and returned intact to beat out other countries vying for the title.

 

In 1929, Clover Field hosted another first—the first all-female air race in the United States. Pilots included famed aviators such as Amelia Earhart and Bobbi Trout. It became known as the Powder Puff Derby.  The Douglas plant at SMO continued to grow, employing many Santa Monicans and developing the neighborhood around the airport.  World War II saw a protective camouflage covering envelope the airport to protect Douglas’ essential work for the military from enemy eyes.  Douglas was famous for manufacturing the DC passenger and airmail planes as well as the B-19 bomber and other military aircraft integral to Allied success in World War II.

Exhibit Dates
October 13, 2018 through February 23, 2019

Museum & Exhibit Hours
Tuesday & Thursday – Noon to 8:00 PM
Wednesday, Friday & Saturday – 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM
Sunday & Monday – CLOSED

Admission Prices
Adults – $10.00
Couples – $15.00
Seniors – $5.00
Students – $5.00
Children (12 & under) – FREE
Veterans & Active Duty – FREE
Museum Members – FREE

Group Tours
Group tours can be arranged by calling (310) 395-2290.
Special pricing is available for groups of 6 or more people.

From Biplanes to Bombers: Santa Monica Airport’s First 50 Years