Off Gerrie Schipske Goes Into the Wild Blue LBC Yonder

Gerrie Schipske vaulted from the delivery room at Long Beach Naval Hospital in 1950 to a degree in history from UC Irvine in 1973 to successful careers as a registered nurse, attorney and teacher of women's studies, political science and public administration at Cal State Long Beach to her election to the Long Beach Community College Board of Trustees in 1992 to razor-thin losses as the Democratic nominee to Republican Assemblyman Steve Kuykendall in 1996 and Congressman Steve Horn in 2000 to an under-funded campaign against Dana Rohrabacher in 2002 to, finally, election to the Fifth District seat on the Long Beach City Council in 2006.

With her new book, Schipske is aims higher—much, much higher. 

Early Aviation in Long Beach (Arcadia Publishing, $21.99) is a pictorial history of manned air flight in the LBC. Sure, you know about Long Beach Airport, the old Douglas Aircraft plant and Howard Hughes' Spruce Goose winding up there. Schipske takes readers back further.

Balloonists tied up near the pier in 1905. Stunt pilot Frank Stites took off from the sands of Long Beach and flew over the Pike in 1908. The Long Beach Chamber of Commerce sponsored an altitude contest won by Arch Hoxsey at the second Los Angeles Air Meet in 1910. The first transcontinental flight ended in the water near Linden Avenue on Dec. 10, 1911.

Early aviators flying from Dominguez Field at what is now Wilmington Avenue south of Artesia Boulevard came so close to town that the Long Beach Press warned readers, “aero planes may take a notion to sail over Long Beach for a time.”  

And then there's Long Beach's role in the Amelia Earhart story.

A fellow named Earl S. Daugherty staged an air circus in Long Beach, and in 1920 he gave the future aviator her first airplane ride along with Long Beach Poly High School graduate Frank Hawks.

Among the more than 200 vintage images contained in Early Aviation in Long Beach are never-before-published photographs of Earhart's flight instructor John G. Montijo.

Earhart was not the only legendary aviator to fly Long Beach's friendly skies. “Lucky Lindy,” Charles Lindbergh, made an emergency landing there one midnight in 1928.

That same year, Daughtery died when the wings of his plane collapsed at 1,500 feet and the craft crashed one mile east of Cherry Avenue and a quarter mile north of Wardlow Avenue. Press city editor Willis Montfort and Pacific Engraving Co. owner Elmer Starr, both of whom frequently flew with Daugherty, also perished in the crash that hundreds of spectators witnessed.

There's much more history in the softcover book, which is now available at book stores and through online retailers.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *