Long Beach’s 3 Links to Aviation History



Inspired by a $50,000 reward, Calbraith Perry Rodgers departed New York in September and landed in Long Beach, CA in December



Earl S. Daugherty established the first flight school in Long Beach



Amelia Earhart took her first ride in a plane at Daugherty Field and became determined to learn to fly



Earhart began taking flight lessons at Kinner Field

Long Beach’s 3 Claims to Fame in Aviation History


World’s First Transatlantic Flight

Publisher William Randolph Hearst offered a $50,000 reward to the first pilot to fly coast-to-coast in under 30 days. Inspired by the Hearst Award, Calbraith Perry Rodgers left New York State September 17, 1911.

He reached Chicago on October 9, 1911. In all he made 70 intentional and accidental stops in his trip across the U.S and landed in Long Beach on December 10, 1911. It took many days more than 30 to make the first coast-to-coast journey!


World’s First Flight School

Nearly a decade later in 1919, the world’s first flight school was established in Long Beach by the famous barnstormer Earl S. Daugherty. The local aviator Daugherty leased an area he called Chateau Thierry for air shows, stunt flying, wing walking, and passenger rides. Daugherty was more than partly responsible for the growing interest in aviation and later helped the City of Long Beach set up its first airport.


Amelia Earhart’s First Flight

History also brought the young Amelia Earhart to Long Beach at about the same time Daugherty established his flying school. On December 28, 1920, Earhart and her father visited Daugherty Field for an air show where Frank Hawks (who later gained fame as an air racer) gave her a ride that would forever change Earhart’s life. “By the time I had got two or three hundred feet [60–90 m] off the ground,” she said, “I knew I had to fly.” After that 10-minute flight, she immediately became determined to learn to fly.

Earhart had her first lessons beginning on January 3, 1921, at Kinner Field, near Long Beach. Her teacher was Anita “Neta” Snook, a pioneer female aviator who used a surplus Curtiss JN-4 “Canuck” for training. Earhart arrived with her father and a direct request, “I want to fly. Will you teach me?”


Did You Know?

  • Amelia Earhart’s second book, originally published in 1933, The Fun of It, chronicled her interest in aviation.
  • Howard Hughes’ Spruce Goose, the largest aircraft and made entirely of wood, found its first visible home in the world’s largest dome adjacent to the ship, The Queen Mary.
  • McDonnel Douglas produced the Boeing C-17 strategical and tactical payload plane in Long Beach from 1991 to 2015.



Earl S. Daugherty – footage of early planes

Photos of Wing Walking

Amelia Earhart’s Early Life and Career

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