WAS HE A PIONEER WEST COAST AVIATOR – BARNSTORMER – INSTRUCTOR – AIRPORT
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Earl Daugherty, Date & Location Unknown (Source: SDAM)
Earl Daugherty was born April 4, 1887 in DesMoines, IA. Photograph above, courtesy of the San Diego Aerospace Museum Flickr Stream (SDAM), shows Daugherty in an unidentified aircraft which might be one of those manufactured by the company he worked for, Illinois Aero Construction Co. (see below).
parents moved to Long
Beach, CA in 1902 and Earl graduated
Long Beach schools in 1904. He attended Long Beach
Business College, but it is unclear whether he was degreed. He
worked in a bank for a while, but became interested in flying. He
learned to fly at Dominguez Field, Los
Angeles, CA and received
license #87 from the Aero Club of California on December
23, 1911. He also earned a license from the Federation
Aeronautique Internationale on January 10, 1912. Having soloed and aircraft before December 17, 1916 qualified him for membership in the exlusive Early Birds of Aviation.
Soon after he learned to fly, he accepted a job as pilot
and construction engineer for the Illinois Aero Construction
Co., Coal City, IL. This company built airplanes and
conducted a flying school and promoted exhibitions. He
flew their planes, carried passengers and gave exhibitions
in the Chicago area.
In September 1912 he flew to the Chicago Air Meet at the
Field. By the end of October, the mid-west
flying season was ending and Earl flew back to California. He
continued this shuttle between California and the mid-west
for the next two years, carrying passengers, performing and offering flight
instruction at each venue.
Two photographs, below, capture Daugherty during his pre-WWI flight activities. Site visitor George McDonald offers the photographs of Daugherty, his airplane, and site visitor McDonald's grandmother, Pauline Clara Robinson. Ms. Robinson was a parachutist that participated in the Daugherty flying circus air shows.
The two photographs were taken at Long Beach, CA circa July 14, 1917. Mr. McDonald says about the photographs and his grandmother, "My Grandmother told me she would bail out of the airplane over the beach, which was through a trap down below the
seat she sat on."
Pauline Clara Robinson, Earl Daugherty and "Eileen," Ca. July 14, 1917 (Source: McDonald)
The second photo shows Daugherty at center with leather coat and Ms. Robinson at his left hand. The flying clothes and bathing togs are typical of the era.
Earl Daugherty (C) & Pauline Clara Robinson, Ca. July 14, 1917 (Source: McDonald)
During WWI, Earl was a flight instructor at March and Rockwell Fields. In 1919 Daugherty opened his own airfield on
the corner of American Avenue and Willow Street in Long Beach. Business was good; he hired more instructors
and bought more airplanes, and put on exhibitions to attract
customers. As part of his stunts he hired one Clarence
"Ace" Bragunier to wing walk. Please follow the link to see two spectacular images of Daugherty and Bragunier at work. By
1920 he was known as “The King of Aviation” in
Through 1922-23 his business grew more and he and a colleague
organized the California Curtiss Company to operate on his
field. This venture made them sales distributors for
Curtiss planes and engines in southern California and Arizona. He
kept 7-10 airplanes busy with instruction, exhibition and
transport during this time.
Below, two images allegedly of Daugherty and his airplanes shared with us by site visitor M. Campbell.
Earl Daugherty (?), Date, Location & Airplane Unknown (Source: Campbell)
I say "allegedly," because John Underwood, a knowledgeable source, states, "The first two Campbell pictures reputed to be Earl S. Daugherty don't look anything like him. The [first] airplane is his Nieup[ort] 28 prior to mods by Joe York, who clipped the wings and installed one-piece interplane struts."
Earl Daugherty (?), Date, Location & Airplane Unknown (Source: Campbell)
While the airplanes are clearly Daugherty's, the people may not be him.
Daugherty made national headlines in 1923 by marrying his wife
while piloting his own airplane over Long Beach. He
got into the growing motion picture flying business and made
a national reputation from his work in some of the early
In 1924 Long Beach was growing rapidly and Pacific Avenue
cut through his field. He moved to what is now the
Beach Municipal Airport. In 1925 he announced
he was retiring from the rush of active flying and would
fly “by appointment only.” He continued
to deal in plane distributorships and as a west coast representative
for east coast aircraft manufacturers. Below, an undated photograph of Daugherty in his cockpit from around this period. This photo is shared by site visitor Renee Nagel, who identifies it as, "... a neat old original photo of pilot Earl S. Daugherty .... On the side of the airplane it reads Aviator Earl S. Daugherty Long Beach Cal." Santa Claus stands by the airplane, so we can probably identify the month as December.
Earl Daugherty and Santa Claus, Date Unknown (Source: Nagel)
Below, from site visitor Mike Gerow, is an outstanding,
"never-before-published photo of Earl Daugherty from
my dad's collection. It's the clearest and most detailed
of the 'famous people' shots. You see E.D. standing
in front of the Ryan M-1 demonstrator [note the beautiful
tooling on the cowls and wheel covers] .... probably
taken at Long Beach c. 1927. You can use it on your site
if you wish to, but I would only ask that you please credit
T. Gerow Collection. The
original 4 x 6 print is perfectly crisp, clear and without
happy to tell you the photo is, indeed, courtesy of the Russell
T. Gerow Collection. Thanks very much, Mike. See Milo
Burcham's page for other images from Mike.
In June 1928 Daugherty became the west coast representative for
the E.M. Laird Company of Chicago, IL. He was given
a new Laird plane for demonstration work. Earl Daugherty
landed at Tucson on October 3, 1928. Again, he carried
as passenger his wife. They were westbound to Long
Beach, CA from El Paso, TX. They flew in 7617, the
new Laird LCB.
The image, left, from a period newspaper, shows him next to a Navy Vought (UO-1?). The same, but better quality, image
is viewable on the Joe
Lewis page. Earl had two months and five days more to live.
On December 8, 1928 he was flying his Laird with two passengers
at the Long Beach Municipal Airport. During a barrel
roll, the left wings collapsed and he had no chance of regaining
control. His passengers were W.E. Monfort, City Editor
for the Long Beach Press Telegram, and Elmer Starr, Manager
of the Pacific Engraving Company. None were wearing
parachutes. Daugherty packed a lot into his 42 years.
Below is notification of Daugherty's crash as it appears in the January 9, 1929 Bureau of Aeronautics Newsletter. Daugherty was an officer in the Navy Reserve. His passing was a shock to civil and military pilots alike.
Bureau of Aeronautics Newsletter, January 9, 1929 (Source: Webmaster)
The BuAeroNews of December 4, 1929 announced, below, that Long Beach Municipal Airport was officially named Daugherty Field.
Bureau of Aeronautics Newsletter, December 4, 1929 (Source: Webmaster)
THIS PAGE UPLOADED: 04/03/06 REVISED: 06/09/06, 01/02/08, 12/21/09, 03/09/11, 04/09/11, 06/2/11, 01/29/14, 11/26/14