University Archives Showcases Role of Dominguez Hills in History of Flight
“Centennial of Flight in the West: The Los Angeles International Air Meet at Dominguez Field, 1910-2010,” a year-long exhibition at California State University, Dominguez Hills, will begin on Jan. 14 and will be displayed in the Loker Student Union near the Club 1910 Restaurant. The restaurant is named for the first aviation exhibition in the United States, which took place near the present site of the university. The 10-day event was held on land owned by the heirs of Manuel Dominguez, a Californio statesman and rancher after whose family the university is named.
Greg Williams, director of University Archives and Special Collections, says that the university has provided an international source of information on the Air Meet for writers and scholars of aviation history for the last 40 years. He adds that the collection also provides a forum for individuals to donate or send materials from the Air Meet. “Centennial of Flight” will feature photographs and newspaper and magazine accounts of the 1910 Air Meet as well as cartoons, sheet music, postcards, and other documents of the 10-day event that introduced Los Angeles and the western United States to the concept of flight, inspiring aviation pioneers such as Glenn Curtiss and William Boeing. The University Archives and the Dominguez Adobe Rancho Museum, which is located just east of the campus, are the two main repositories of 1910 Air Meet documents and memorabilia in the world.
“The dynamics of a social event that fascinated the public and the sense of a shared happening are among the many angles researchers and writers can [work] with today,” Williams says.
Williams underscores the importance of the role that the Dominguez family and the South Bay played in presenting the first aviation event in the United States, inspiring not only the growth of the aviation and aerospace industries in the region and beyond, but influencing the entertainment business in Los Angeles as well.
“The [Air Meet] was the event of 1910 in Los Angeles and led to the establishment of the aviation industry in Los Angeles, Seattle, San Diego, the West, and throughout the U.S.,” he says. “Thousands of Angelinos trudged up the Dominguez hill to watch something totally unseen in the West: airplanes as well as their older cousins, the balloon and the dirigible. The Air Meet also informed Los Angeles business operatives how to put on a show. Representatives from the year-old movie industry were present and began film’s century-long fascination with the airplane.”
On Thursday, Jan. 14, at 6 p.m., the CSU Dominguez Hills 50th Anniversary Speaker Series begins in Club 1910 with "An Evening with Karen Gebhart." Gebhart is president of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association and will be speaking on "Women in Aviation and the 1910 Air Meet."
To make reservations for this free event or for more information, contact Toby Bushee, manager of Ceremonies and Events, at (310) 243- 3337.
For more information on the 1910 Air Meet collection in the University Archives, click here.
For a yearlong schedule of Air Meet commemorative events at CSU Dominguez Hills, the Dominguez Adobe Rancho Museum, and other Southern California venues, click here.
- Joanie Harmon