Home » Long Beach Airport (LGB) » 12-13-23 Long Beach Airport Marks Centennial with Historic Report on Local Aviation History

Long Beach Airport Marks Centennial with Historic Report on Local Aviation History

Aviator Tom Gunn
Image: Aviator Tom Gunn (left) posing for a picture with one of the Eaton brothers at the Los Angeles Air Meet at Dominguez Hill, 1910. They are standing in front of a wood and canvas biplane. Gunn was the first Chinese American person to learn to fly and was an aviator participant in the 3rd Los Angeles Air Meet at Dominguez Hill in 1912.
Image: https://doi.org/10.25549/chs-m13385
California Historical Society Collection, 1860-1960, University of Southern California Libraries Special Collections

Kate Kuykendall
Public Affairs Officer
Long Beach Airport

With a storied aviation history that goes beyond its 100 years, Long Beach Airport (LGB) today released a centennial anniversary historic report that highlights LGB’s most significant milestones and reveals some of the lesser-known stories of the oldest municipal airport in California. 

“Marking the 100th year of Long Beach Airport, we’re excited to share this report,’’ said Mayor Rex Richardson. ‘’It gives our community a detailed look into LGB’s impressive history and the innovative people who were key to its success.’’ 

Beyond providing an overview of the airport’s history, the report focuses on forgotten or overlooked stories that haven’t been often told, particularly those about women and those about Black, Latinx, Asian, Indigenous and other persons of color who contributed greatly to the field of aviation in Southern California. 

The report was commissioned through the nonprofit Historical Society of Long Beach and was written by Dr. Alison Rose Jefferson and Dr. Philip S. Hart. Jefferson, the project leader, is an award-winning author and historian who has worked extensively across Los Angeles and Southern California to elucidate and re-center the Black experience in American history. Hart is a retired professor, prolific author and documentary filmmaker best known for being one of the authorities on early Black aviators, and his family’s work in the aviation industry for more than 100 years.

Both authors will take part in a free presentation on the report at 6 p.m. on Thursday, January 25 at the Billie Jean King Library. Attendees are invited to a light reception at 5:30 p.m. Parking is free at the West Broadway Parking Structure (332 W. Broadway). 

“Long Beach Airport’s century of rich aviation history is intertwined with our city’s evolution, and the stories in this report are colorful threads adding to our overall understanding of Long Beach’s past,” said Historical Society of Long Beach Executive Director Julie Bartolotto.  

In the report, titled “Long Beach Airport and Southern California: A Brief New Aviation and Aeronautics History (1900s-1980s),” readers will learn about pioneering Long Beach aviators such as Earl Daugherty and Frank Champion, the first licensed pilots in the city, and Barbara Erickson London, the only woman during World War II to earn an Air Medal. 

Readers also will find stories about Long Beach’s unique ties to world-renowned aviation industry manufacturers and leaders such as Douglas Aircraft, McDonnell Douglas, The Boeing Company, Charles Lindbergh, Cal Rodgers, and Howard Hughes, right alongside stories about “Rosie the Riveters” and famed women aviators such as Amelia Earhart, Bessie Coleman, and Pancho Barnes. 

Just as compelling are some lesser-known tales, including that of Monty Montijo, an accomplished Mexican American aviator and businessman who was active in Long Beach in the 1920s and 1930s, or Henry Ohye, a second-generation Japanese American commercial pilot who, starting in 1965, organized a long-running annual air race from Long Beach, among many other accomplishments.  

“As Long Beach Airport marks its centennial, it’s so important to look back at our past as we celebrate and look ahead to our future,” said Airport Director Cynthia Guidry. “I’m always so proud of the legacy we continue to build on here at LGB, and the stories found in this report are ones that I’m sure will offer inspiration to yet another century of aviation industry leaders.” 

The full report is available at lgb.org/100th where visitors will find more information about Long Beach Airport’s centennial, including historical information and a four-part short film series. 

About the City of Long Beach
Long Beach is nestled along the Southern California coast and home to approximately 466,000 people. As an award-winning full-service charter city, Long Beach offers the amenities of a metropolitan city while maintaining a strong sense of individual and diverse neighborhoods, culture and community. With a bustling downtown and over six miles of scenic beaches, Long Beach is a renowned tourist and business destination and home to the iconic Queen Mary, nationally recognized Aquarium of the Pacific and Long Beach Airport, award-winning Long Beach Convention and Entertainment Center and world-class Port of Long Beach. 

For more information about the City of Long Beach, visit longbeach.gov/. Follow us on social to keep up with the latest news: FacebookXInstagram and YouTube. More information about Long Beach Airport is available at lgb.org and on Facebook, Instagram and X @LGBAirport