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From Biplanes to Bombers: Santa Monica Airport’s First Fifty Years, 1917-1967
October 13, 2018 • 10:00 am PDT
The Santa Monica History Museum is excited to announce it will display an exhibition
exploring the rich history of Santa Monica Airport (SMO) from Saturday, October 13th, 2018, to February 23rd,
2019, at the Santa Monica History Museum at 1350 7th Street, Santa Monica, CA 90401.
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.
The museum, and this exhibition, are open to the public Tuesdays and Thursdays noon to 8:00 PM, and
Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM. The museum is closed Sundays and Mondays.
General admission for adults is $10.00 ($15 for 2 adults) and $5.00 for seniors & students. Veterans, active-duty
military, children 12 and under, and Santa Monica History Museum members receive free admission. P