WHAT'S THE HISTORY OF LAX?
The major Golden Age Los Angeles airport, located in the same place
then as now, was Mines Field, now called Los Angeles International (LAX).
Photo, left, shows the new Mines Field set up for the 1928
National Air Races. Pylons and standard field circle are in
place. Notice the agricultural use of land nearby.
A now defunct link presented the following brief text about Mines Field.
"LA's INTERNATIONAL BEAN FIELD
"Wheat, barley and lima beans once grew
where Los Angeles International airport stands today. Back
in the 1920s it was part of Southern California's prosperous
ranching business. The city's energetic Chamber of Commerce
promoted the idea of building a municipal airport on the land
even though flying was still a wing and a prayer activity.
There was no federal money for airport investment, but the
city fathers decided it was a risk worth taking. In 1928 they
chose Mines Field from a list of 27 possible sites.
"The name came from real estate agent William
W. Mines who represented the ranching interests and he claimed
his own bit of history when he clinched the deal. For years
Angelinos refused to call their airport anything else. The
city leased 640 acres for ten years and aviation got an immediate
boost when America's National Air Races brought the crowds
flocking to Mines Field to see pilots like the legendary Charles
"Los Angeles Municipal Airport was officialy dedicated
in 1930 when the lease was extended to 50 years. But there
were hard times ahead as the Stock Market crash frightened
off investors and the major airlines stayed away. Los Angeles
was saved by the arrival of companies like Douglas, Northrop
and North American who established the area as an aircraft
manufacturing center. As the Depression Years began to subside
the airlines turned to Los Angeles as their favored base on
the understanding that improvements would be made. For that
funds were needed but they proved difficult to raise while
the airfield was on lease. In 1937 the city took another great
leap of faith and became full owners.
"Wartime priorities suspended development from 1943
to 1945 but at the end of hostilities Southern California
and the area around LA had, through military demands, become
the hub of America's aircraft industry. The airport managment
had already laid its post-war plans and in 1946, with all
five major airlines installed, commercial operations began.
" Five years later, as world routes were developed,
Los Angeles added 'International' to its title and in 1952
it made its first profit. A new terminal was built, the forerunner
of huge development as the jet age arrived and the ten million
passenger mark was reached in 1965. Since then expansion projects
have come thick and fast with a $700 million improvement program,
started in 1981, providing two new terminals and a $3.5 million
cargo center. The city' flair for attracting world events
- the Olympic Games 1984, the World Soccer Cup 1994 - has
also played its part in boosting the growth of an airport
which currently ranks number four in the international league.
History has not been overlooked either. Hangar Number One,
the first building ever constructed at Los Angeles Airport
in 1929, is still in use and is listed on the National Register
of Historic Places. The bean field has reaped a rich harvest."
gets you a little more information.
WHAT AMENITIES COULD YOU EXPECT AT
MINES FIELD IN THE EARLY 1930s?
Photo, right, is from the reference cited in the left column,
above. This view, taken ca. 1933, is from a slightly different
angle than the top photo on this page.
At this time, the field was the largest airport in southern
California. It had a 640 acre adobe surface, with all-way
landing, as well as a single 3,500 x 500 foot runway, visible
on the photo, surfaced with decomposed granite and oil.
Day markings consisted of the standard circle, yellow and
black checkerboard on the roof of the main building, and "LOS
ANGELES" black lettered on the hangar roof. Night markings
included boundary and flood lights, a green and white revolving
beacon, neon strips on the tower of the main building, neon
letters "L.A.", neon north arrow and a neon fog
beacon. There were no landing fees, but there was a flood
light charge for night operations.
Communications consisted of two "trunk" telephone
lines, two-way radio and on-field weather reports. Modern
hotels and restaurants were in the city, and a restaurant
was on the field. Buses ran hourly, and the taxi rate for
the 11 miles to the city was 50 cents.
As might be expected at a major airport, fuel, oil and hangars
were available. Also licensed repair depots, parts and accessories,
and licensed mechanics were on call 24/7. Hangars were available
at 75 cents per foot of wingspan per month. "Dead"
storage was priced at 40% less.
A large choice of operators, providing different services,
did business at the field. Flight schools included Curtiss-Wright
Flying Service, Larson Flying Service, Air Flight Flying Service,
Hampton Flying Service, Slade Flying Service, Bird Flight
Flying Service, California Aerial Transport, Los Angeles Aircraft,
Ltd. and McKeen Aircraft, Ltd.
Aircraft sales operations included Bellanca-Pacific, Ltd.,
Herschel Linville, John B. Hinchey (signed the register twice
in 1930), Parachute Service Company and Aero Brokerage Service
Co., Ogden Aircraft Company manufactured and sold aircraft,
and Pacific Airmotive Corp. serviced engines and accessories.
As well, Mines served as the base for the U.S. Department
of Commerce offices (inspection service branch and engineering
branch), and the headquarters of the Los Angeles City Department
of Airports. A flight surgeon and medical examiner's office
was also at Mines Field during this time.
THIS PAGE UPLOADED: 05/05 REVISED: 10/30/07, 03/06/10