Sunday, December 7, 2008

Take-off at Zamperini Field

Torrance Municipal Airport - Zamperini Field is a general aviation airport just north of Palos Verdes. Our son has been taking flight lessons there for more than 2 years, mostly in his flight instructor's Citabria, a tail-dragger airplane. (Citabria is "airbatic" written backwards and is a great plane for getting a real feel for flying.)
Last week, our son turned 14 and celebrated with a long flight to El Mirage, a dry lake bed. As a coincidence, he and his instructor took off right by Torrance Memorial where our son was born (lower right corner of upper photo).
I've included a brief history of the airport - the above photo and the text below is from the plaques inside the airport building.
"The Lomita Flight Strip in late 1945. Note barracks in lower left later demolished for Crenshaw Boulevard. Note P-38 hardstands, oil wells (upper right), Walteria Lake (dark area, top left).

Completed by the Army Corps of Engineers in March 1943, the Lomita Flight Strip served as a training base for P-38 fighter pilots (June 1943 to April 1944) and Air Transport Command pilots (August 1944 to September 1945). In early 1946 it housed nearly 1,000 Japanese-Americans returning from relocation centers. The City of Torrance obtained a Use Permit in December 1946 and final Deed in March 1948, renaming it Zamperini Field.

Legendary Louis (Lou) Zamperini attended Torrance High School and as a junior in 1934 set a world interscholastic mile run record that remained unbroken for 20 years. Lou was the first American to finish the 5,000 meter race in the 1936 Berlin Olympic Games. While attending U.S.C. in 1938, Lou set a new N.C.A.A. mile record that stood for 15 Years.

A legacy of WWII, Captain Louis Zamperini crashed in the South Pacific, was listed as Missing in Action on May 23, 1943, and was declared dead by the war department on August 28, 1944. At the end of the war it was learned that Captain Zamperini had survived 47 days adrift in an open raft and 2 ½ years as a P.O.W. in Japan."

12 comments:

angela said...

At what age can you start flying lessons? It seems funny that you can learn to fly before we learn to drive, though I guess the roads are more crowded!

That photo of the green plane lined up is lovely..

altadenahiker said...

Those who love to fly sure love it. I had to take flying lessons because of a job, and got through solo. I liked stalls and spins, IFR, and take-offs, but was a landing disaster. I think those who really like to fly (and all my instructors did) have an affinity for landing. I think that's when you're the most graceful, skillful; that's when you're part bird.

Bibi said...

Gee, I didn't know you could start lessons that young, but imagine it makes sense. I like the top photo and your interesting post, especially about Captain Zamperini.

Hope said...

I was surprised to read that your son is taking lessons at 14 years old! It is a surprise to read that you can learn to fly before you can learn to drive!

I love that 2nd photo of the plane your son is flying with the hospital he was born in down in the corner!

You should frame that one for him and yourself!!

I really enjoyed reading this post!

~Hope in Knoxville

babooshka said...

So young. That green plane really pops out of the portal.

jill said...

Congrats to your son. That's quite an accomplishment. I imagine you had a few flashback memories when you saw him fly over/near the hospital in which he was born hardly a few weeks or months ago...
where are you going my little one, little one...

pasadenaadjacent.com said...

Fascinating story. The spirit of Palm Axis lives on in your post. I've spent time in the Westchester historical museum (a room on the second floor of the Loyola Library). Not much larger then a closet and stuffed with boxes out of Grandma's closet. It's often from these scraps that we have to figure out the past. I like the second photo.

Carrie Hayes said...

great shots and information!

PJ said...

That's a pretty cool looking plane your son gets to fly. I love the photo you took of him flying, you're a great mom to give him wings.

Aileni said...

I am as green as the aircraft.
I earned my gliding wings at 16 but never flew again.
The very best to him.

Keith said...

Beautiful day to go flying. How do you feel about the lessons? Having a child learn to drive can be stressful, learning to fly must be too.

Maya said...

Wow, how fun! I love the look of that green plane.