Torrance Airport (CA) (Images of Aviation)
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Californians were panicked by the Pearl Harbor attack of December 7, 1941, and civilian flights within 200 miles of the coast were immediately terminated. Airfields were commandeered and new ones hastily built. One of these was the Lomita Flight Strip, known today as Zamperini Field, the Torrance Municipal Airport, or TOA. This 490-acre parcel sent four squadrons of P-38 fighter pilots off to war with one commanded by the judge of the Charles Manson trial, an ex-Flying Tiger. Six other pilots became generals, two became commandants of cadets at the Air Force Academy, and one became the only fighter pilot with combat victories in both World War II and the Vietnam War. Japanese Americans returning from World War II internment camps found temporary housing at the field, and the world’s largest manufacturer of civilian helicopters settled there in 1973. The first runway takeoff of a Vertical Take-Off and Landing (VTOL) aircraft was pioneered at TOA, and aerobatic champ Bob Herendeen trained at the site.
produced in anticipation of a private flying boom similar to the spurt following World War I. (Courtesy City of Torrance.) By 1958, businesses, a flight school or two, and private aircraft began to appear along the taxiways. Note the Nike missile battery (far right), constructed in 1956. Nike Station LA-57 included an administration building and four underground missile storage bunkers behind an embankment along Crenshaw Boulevard. Controlled from a radar site at Wilderness Park in Redondo
have been delivered worldwide. (Courtesy David Harmon.) Rising popularity of the four-place R-44 Raven has boosted production to just over three per day, with a total of 2,400 delivered to date through 110 dealerships in 50 nations. (Courtesy David Harmon.) An R-44 with pop-out safety floats is in a test flight over Terminal Island and the Los Angeles and Long Beach Harbors. The view looks west with the Palos Verdes Peninsula in the background and the 1946-vintage Commodore Heim lift bridge in
fame, joined Lou in the adjacent cell. (Courtesy Louis Zamperini.) Lou was transferred to Omori prison near Tokyo on September 10, 1944, where he continued to be severely starved, mistreated, and beaten by the sadistic, officer-hating Sgt. Matsuhiro Watanabe, nicknamed “The Bird.” (Courtesy Louis Zamperini.) On March 1, 1945, Lou was again transferred, along with The Bird, to Camp 4-B at Naoetsu, Japan, near Nagano, the site of the 1998 Olympic Winter Games. Treatment under The Bird and his
constructed as it would appear from a P-38 at about 18,000 feet. Note the detailed oil derricks and storage tanks and the careful placement of a convoy of warships heading up the Los Angeles River. (Courtesy Air Force Historical Research Agency.) In June 1943, 25 P-38s, 40 pilots, and 200 enlisted men of the 55th Pursuit Squadron, based at March Army Air Field in Riverside, deployed to the Lomita Flight Strip for 14 days. The purpose was to complete 10 hours of P-38 familiarization, gunnery
other wartime installations in the U.S. The War Assets Administration (WAA) struggled to determine who owned what. In October, the War Relocation Authority usurped the barracks and added trailers to house Japanese Americans returning from internment camps. The Third Region Civil Air Patrol (CAP) claimed they should inherit the field since the commander of the 6th Ferrying Group had issued them a Conditional Use permit. Surreptitiously Roger Keeney opened his Acme Aircraft Company for business in