Soaring Skyward: a History of Aviation in and around Long Beach, California

Published 2011Cover - Soaring Skyward

ABOUT THE BOOK: Flying was a perilous adventure with death only a small breath away.  Many lost their lives in pursuit of their dream and have remained relatively forgotten, until now.    Soaring Skyward is the result of twenty years of extensive research.  It is sure to open up new sources of information for aviation and history enthusiasts, and most definitely shed additional light on the past.


  • Aviation fever” which struck young and old alike, especially after the four Dominguez Air Meets held in Southern California between 1910-1913.  It inspired many such as the Birnie and French brothers, Charles Day, and Glenn Martin to build their own air ships.  For others like Frank Champion, Long Beach’s first airman, it meant learning from the best…traveling to London, England, to study with Louis Bleriot, and going on to teach others, such as Long Beach Airport founder Earl Daugherty, to fly.

  • Daring women–Tiny and Ethel Broadwick, who parachuted out of airplanes when many men refused to do so because they considered it “too dangerous;” Gladys O’Donnell instrumental in founding the Women’s Air Derby; World War II ferrying pilots, led by Barbara Erickson London, whose service to America was not recognized until 1977; Dianna Bixby and Joan Merriam Smith trying to complete Amelia Earhart’s dream of circumnavigating to globe.

  •  Courageous men, discriminated against because of their raceHenry Ohye imprisoned during WWII because of his Japanese ancestry who overcame the bigotry he experienced by starting his own air race and opening it to all; Tuskegee Airmen, such as Aaron Herrington, who proved that a person’s skin color had no part in how well a man could fly or defend his country; “Monty” Montejo, one of America’s first Hispanic aviators, who taught Amelia Earhart to fly.

  • Long Beach Municipal Airport, the center of much of Southern California’s aviation history.  The early days of ballooning, air circuses, parachutes jumps, barnstorming, air meets, forgotten military sites and much more are explored in this well documented look into the past, and future, of aviation in Southern California.

Soaring Skyward was used in the PBS Documentary Sky Blue Sea, nominated for an Emmy Award in 2016.

For more check out this  video on the Sky Blue Sea:

DON’T MISS Claudine Burnett’s interview on early Long Beach aviation. ALSO HER C-Span interview


You may order Claudine Burnett books online from, BarnesandNoble and



ALSO available at Barnes & Noble bookstores.




Books also available for purchase at the Historical Society of Long Beach, 4260 Atlantic Ave., Long Beach, CA. 90807. Also check at your local bookstore.