Meadowlark Airport

Or was it East Long Beach?  Or was it Sunset Beach?

Update March 2017 change Host and Format

Update July 11':  Comments and pictures from "Old Timers"

Update March 09':  Add video clips.

This is an update to this site which was originally posted in 2003, almost four years ago.  The original intent of the posting was to document as much as I could about our little airport that meant so much to so many of us.  I thought that the site might be of interest mainly to those who had used to use the airport.  And I thought that most would know who the author of the site was because I listed a lot of trivia about my banner towing business.  I realize now by the number of hits the site has had, that most persons would not know who I am.  Today, 6/21/2007, the number of hits is almost 11,000, far exceeding the number of persons I have ever known.  So a little late but let me introduce myself.  I am Bob Cannon and my business at Meadowlark was known as "Sky Ad".   I now reside in Portland Oregon.

Today, it is hard to believe that we are approaching the 20 year mark of the closing of Meadowlark airport.  But interesting is that so many of us still keep in contact with each other mostly via email.  A significant number of ex-Larkers have now passed on, and yet the memories remain vivid.

My email address is skyads@comcast.net   Please feel free to send me any pictures or stories that might be of interest to add to the site.

 

 

    (Note: after clicking the thumbnail you can super-size the picture again)

     This website is a collection of my pictures and thoughts about L16 since I was a youngster.  It was destined to be my place for the most important part of my life; that I didn't know for many years later. I have many pictures of L16 going away back, and I have tried to place the best ones here.  If you have any that you may want to include, please e-mail me and I will try to do what I can to include them.

    I  bought my first airplane on 6/24/1955.  It was a really beat up 46' 7AC.  It had more patches on it than it had unpatched areas.  I bought it from Al Lary at Fullerton airport for the tidy sum of $800..  I had taken my flight instruction at El Monte airport and during that time had seen a lot of stunts pulled off by guys in all sorts of light aircraft.  My instructor, Freddy Potter, had told me that aerobatics in the trainer types we were flying was a no-no, but I had seen snap rolls after take off and the likes without any parts falling off.  So I asked Al Lary what his opinion was.  He asked me what I wanted to do.  I replied maybe rolls and loops.  So he demonstrated snap rolls, aileron rolls, and loops in the 7AC.  Of course, it helped that Al was an old time barnstormer type with a lot of experience.  So on the way home back to El Monte I was practicing these snap rolls when I heard the sound of 12 gauge shotgun go off in the right wing (I was snapping to the left).  That plus the overflow of gas coming into the cockpit made me think that maybe Freddy had a point.  From then on I limited myself to the usual spins and lazy eights.  I had three forced landings in the airplane and somehow talked Al Lary into taking it back for nearly what I had paid for it.  It took a little gesturing on my part to make my point but the last flight was on 11/19/55.  I had invested in a set of tires (my log book states installed "different" tires) and a windshield, but in the 5 months I had the airplane, I flew it 88 hours.

    One of my most favorite jaunts from the beginning was to low fly the beaches, and on one of the first trips I found East Long Beach airport, and I fell instantly in love with it.  Huntington Beach had always been one of my favorite places to visit.  In fact I was with my father while he was fishing on the pier the night the end fell off in 1939.  I can remember the swaying of the pier very well.  It didn't seem very safe to me, and the only other person I saw was the guy who owned the End Cafe at that time.  He came by hauling his cash register in small wagon.

Huntington Beach Pier

http://www.hbsurfcity.com/history/hist.htm

    As far as I can recall, the airport didn't look much different when it closed to what it was on that first visit.  The air was clean and the hamburgers were tasty (must have been the salt air?).  After leaving East Long Beach, I made a stop at Huntington Beach airport.  Huntington Beach airport was located right where the power plant resides now, and for many years one of the old airport buildings was visible on the property.    After landing there, I walked across PCH and spent a little time looking at the waves.  I managed to get oil stains on my pants from walking through the ice plants that grew in the sand.  Here are few pictures from that trip:   Note: You can click on the thumbnails to enlarge them, and then click again for a super-enlargement.  Sometimes it takes a few seconds for the super-enlargement to take place; play with it.

                                             

You might note in the above pictures that Huntington Harbor is totally a vacant marsh and that there are two water towers.  Also in the background of the next to last picture there are no visible houses east of the  pier.  Also a wooden oil well rig is visible.

         In last picture you can see an Atlantic Richfield tower that was placed at so many of their stations.  This one was at Dana Point.   On that tower is an airway beacon light flashing code dah-dit-dah identifying that position on Victor 23 airway.  The 7AC was a real dog of an airplane but it provided me with more excitement than I had ever experienced.  I actually used to try and roll the wheels on the water when the ocean was calm and more than often the airplane would come back with salt spray on the windscreen.

    Between East Long Beach and Fullerton were several airports:  Cyprus, Haster Farm, Horse Farm, and east of L16 was the vacant military field, Mile Square which is now the site of several golf courses and many houses.  This picture is from a March 15th, 1950 Los Angeles Sectional.  L16 does not appear on this issue. 

 

   Note that in this 1954 San Diego Sectional that L16 is named East Long Beach, and is 2000 feet long.  Also Huntington Beach Airport is shown.  On a March 1955 both fields are shown. The Los Angeles March 19th 1956 Sectional ( not shown) has the field named Sunset Beach. In the second picture taken from a October 3rd, 1956 San Diego Sectional the field is shown named Sunset Beach, is now 1900 feet long, and the Huntington Beach airport is no longer listed.

  

    On 5/18/56 I bought my 2nd airplane, a very nice Luscombe 8E OPT ( I never found out what he OPT meant) for $1,700.  It was definitely an "uptown" airplane compared to the Dog previously owned and now I could expand my flying to high altitude airports such as Big Bear, but Sunset Beach as it was now known was still on my favorites list.  I show in my log book that on 6/30/56 I landed at Haster Farm with the notation: "into weeds". 

            These pictures were taken in June 1956 at the then open but unused Mile Square airport.  Note the lack of houses in the background.  I kept the Luscombe until later in the year when I sold it and bought a Ryan ST3KR (PT22) for $1,150.  I had sold the Luscombe for over $2,000, so I had pocketed some money on the deal and still had an airplane.  I never flew the PT22 into L16 as I was having too much fun just putting it into every position possible and staying near to El Monte. 

    In 1963 I bought a Fairchild PT-26/23 hybrid and once again was back at Sunset Beach and the runway is hard surfaced and is now 1800 feet long (the Meadowlark name still hadn't been coined as shown by the March 22, 1963 Los Angeles Sectional map).  However, the San Diego Sectional for August 22, 1963 has the field named Meadowlark and now the length is again 2000'.

     So it is a conclusion that the name of the Airport changed from early 1963 to sometime in the summer of the same year.  Also it seemed to be that sometimes the Airport would be shown on the L.A. Sectional and sometimes not.  Same with the San Diego Sectional.  Also in that time frame there were maps called "Locals".  This is a 1956 San Diego Local map.  There are lots of now non-existent airports including Carlsbad (now Palomar).  During my flight I landed at a "strip" of some 600' feet in length and marked it on this map.  I decided that someday I wanted to own that house and strip.  Unfortunately Richard Nixon beat me to it!  It became the Western White House!

    On July 7th, Dan Brennan and I flew the PT into Sunset (my actual log book entry) where the field was hosting a gathering of antiques and experimental's.  Here are some pictures from that event:

           

    Note the ground loop of the Aeronca LC in the last frame.  No damage to aircraft; ego  hurt.

                            

    Interesting story about the yellow PT-23 above.  The picture is taken at Brackett where I had my PT tied down at the time, but the owner had bought the airplane allegedly from Dave Horal at Sunset.  It was almost flawless and the owner is holding a trophy he got at some showing that day.  But there was one little ruffle in the fabric covered wooden wing, and he asked the mechanic at Brackett if he could fix it.  The mechanics name was Joe and I knew him from El Monte previously.  He was a totally thorough mechanic and before he would work on an airplane, he would inspect it thoroughly.  He started doing a walk-around and at the tail he started working the elevator back and forth until he had totally loosened it.  The aluminum brackets peeled open as if they were made of mica.  Then he pulled the rudder loose the same way.  Then he opened up the belly and punched the center section and found it rotten.  The airplane was scrapped!  And all because of a small flaw where some moisture had gotten under the fabric.  Ironically the guy had been taking aerobatic lessons in it from my old instructor, Howard T. Riley.  The last picture is my PT-26 modified with the Continental 220hp round engine, ala PT-23.  I sold that airplane to an Air Force pilot who had a little trouble with it.  The exhaust port was located right at wing level, and one day while upside down, a gas cap on the exhaust side of the wing came off and a "clinker" from the exhaust started a fire.  He did a side slip all the way to the ground, made a safe landing and watched it burn to ashes.

    The fellows name was Stan McGrew, and he had offered to trade me straight across for his Fairchild F24, but I opted to take the $1300 I wanted for my bird.  That was a considerable profit since I had bought it for $695.  Stan did a complete restoration on it and sent me this picture before the crash.

          

    After selling the PT, then came a string of airplanes starting with the Stinson 108-3, Cessna's 150, 182, 210, Meyers 200D, and then my Stearman.  With all of these airplanes, Meadowlark as it was now known as, was a frequent stopover for the usual hamburger.  In fact, before I got the Stearman, I had a Mooney tied down at L16.  One day, after a wash down at the "wash rack", I taxied off and one tire slipped off of the concrete and dropped a few inches into the mud.  The prop got a small strike, so I removed the prop and took it to Torrance for a straightening.  The next time I taxied out I hit a pot hole and struck the prop again, not severely, but enough to tell me that L16 was no place for this short geared airplane if I had to park out in the dirt

    I finally decided to get the airplane I  had always wanted and I bought my first Stearman, N61986 for $10,000 John Davis, who was closing down California Ag Aero in Hanford. I had decided to get into the agriculture type flying, but found that anyone I talked to about a job always asked me "how much Stearman time do you have"?  I knew that flying a Stearman wouldn't be any different than anything else I had flown because when I learned to fly, there were no tricycle geared trainers.  Everyone learned in what was called "conventional geared airplanes", later to be dubbed "taildraggers".  But when in Rome, do as the Romans do, and I bought the Stearman to get time in it and to be able to answer the big question with some huge number like "hundreds of hours"! 

    I had the Stearman, a stock 2-holer with the Continental R-670, tied down at Orange County airport (I never got used to the name Santa Ana or John Wayne) because I was living only 10 minutes away in Corona Del Mar, and the tie-down wasn't much higher than Meadowlark.  But one of my first flights was into L16 for the usual fare of a hamburger.  In the short time that I had the Stearman, nick-named "Bessie", I had already gotten a citation for "Making turns in excess of 90 degree bank" over Newport.  I fought those charges contending that it was impossible to make a turn in excess of a 90 degree bank but still got a 30-day suspension.  So here I was going into L16 when I see the HB Police Helicopter tailing me.  Sure enough, as soon as I landed, the Chopper landed and two of HB's finest accosted me at one of the outside tables of the Cafe.  I was not about to be put in the position of getting another citation, so I bought lunch for my new friends.  Seems as though they didn't think that I should be at pattern attitude of 800' prior to entering the pattern.  Rather than argue the point I used tact and made a couple of friends. 

    The next person to walk over and introduce himself was Rod Worthington.  Actually he came over and asked me: "How would you like to make some big money with that airplane"?  Music to my ears, but:: "What do you have in mind"?  Rod explained that he ran a business called Sky Ad and that he needed another airplane and pilot to tow his banners.  The wages were $30 an hour for me and the airplane.  The typical flights on the weekend would be two three-hour flights per day.  A quick assessment of that financial offer meant $360 per weekend if everything went as planned.  Since gasoline was only $0.50 cents a gallon, I would be netting almost $300!  I quickly became trained in the art of picking up and dropping the banner, and was off on my first job.  I didn't quite work out the way Rod offered it mainly because he didn't rush to do anything.  But that season went by, and toward the end of the year Rod offered to sell me the business.  I hadn't forgotten my main objective of getting into the "Ag" business, but I was having a lot of fun for the present, and the price offered for the business was too low to pass up.  For $18,000 I got all of the worn and tattered banner stock, the business phone numbers and yellow page Ad, and one beat up single-seat ex-crop-duster Stearman with a P&W985 powerplant.  I figured the airplane was nearly worth the total price, so a deal was made.

       The next year Rod asked me if I wanted to sell the business back to him.  I didn't, and Rod conferred to me that he had sold the business before and let the new owner baby-sit it over the Winter, make a few improvements, and then when discouragement set in, Rod would get it back.  Rod and I became fast friends and spent a lot of time at the nearby beer bars "shooting pool". Actually there were some factors involving the business.  Rod's father, the infamous Cal Worthington, provided most of the business, and what he didn't provide, his Ad agency did.  Maybe like throwing Rod a few "bones".  Without this business there wasn't much business, at least during Rod's tenure.  I was an experienced Sales Engineer placed in the right place at exactly the right time.  Timing is everything.  The weather was the best that has been seen ever since in SoCal; there was very little competition, and the economy was booming.  I thought and thought about what product to pursue for advertising.  I wanted a product that both male and female, young and old, would have an interest in, and it would have to appeal to the beach crowds.  I hit the nail on the head and came up with "Blue Jeans" at exactly the timing of the big boom in Custom Jeans.  I had a market made.  I also tackled Stereos and Radio Stations; each a big hit.  I had 8 airplanes scheduled for opening day, Memorial weekend 1977.  Because I only had the two Stearman Biplanes, I had to find airplanes to leaseback and pilots to fly them.  Timing again worked in my favor as I was able to fill in a fleet to meet the workload.

    The airport was scheduled to close in two years, and Art Nerio who ran the airport, always told us that we would have two years to prepare to move.  So 1978 came and went, as did 1985 and 1986.  But the insinuation that things were going to happen seemed more and more prevalent.  Life went on as usual with everyone hoping that it would always be two more years.  In 1987 the shoe finally dropped and we were given the notice.  September 1989 would be the closing date.  I had now been in a thriving business for over ten years and was making more money than I ever had as an Engineer.  Life was good.  And my goal to get into the "Ag" business had faded out of sight.

     There were many problems along the way with the City Fathers at HB and with the Gestapo (FAA).  But all problems have been overcome.    The inside details of the Sky Ad business over the time that I worked it will be told later. 

    It is impossible to put into words any explanation of what made Meadowlark what it was and what it meant to so many, from so many walks of life.  It was as if the airport itself was a magnet for so many distinct and interesting personalities. There were the "regulars" at the Cafe everyday each with a story.  Too many to even try to itemize or list.  People from all sorts of flying backgrounds.  Ex-fighter pilots from WWII, ex-bomber pilots, pilots who had flown China before WWII.  One of the most famous Stunt pilots of the era, Joe Hughes, camped in the hangar next to mine.  There were "old timers" and "newbie's".  Eccentric people like Spud and Jim Minear.  There were the usual mix of present airline pilots.  For a little basically dirt airport on 80 acres, it attracted pilots from the entire SoCal area.  At one time we had a gaggle of 13 Stearman Biplanes assembled at the Cafe ramp.  The Cafe featured a half dozen picnic tables outside almost directly under the departure path.  Where else could anyone sit so close to flying activity?  And it housed the largest banner towing (Aerial Advertising) business in SoCal. In terms of actual flying activity, Meadowlark had to have made the top list in number of flights taken. Like any small city, there were the usual intrigues of individuals involved in activities beyond flying.  I, myself, got married at the Windsock at Meadowlark.  And when the airport prepared to shut down, there were several deaths just coincidental with the closing.  After the airport closed, I was able to keep my business located there for several years.  I even set up a deal where I could drop banners on the field.   A few months after the closing, my dog Sandy, just withered up and died.  Her life had been 110% activity starting with mooching her breakfast at the Cafe, and then chasing the dunebuggy carrying banners to the pickup area.  Or making the rounds of the airport with the persons taking their daily exercise walking the airport perimeter.  There was a continual barrage of activity for her, and when it suddenly stopped it was as if her world had come to a stop.  And it had.  And now more than 10 years later, the airport still lives on in cyberspace.  It was an unorganized fraternity that knitted so many people from so many walks of life into one personality that was reflected in the name Meadowlark.

    Between 1950 and 1955 over 50 airports in the general SoCal area fell under the developers plow to meet the growing population demand occurring after WWII.  And now the last of the Mohicans finally passed through the same door.  What was "our little airport" is now a shopping mall and 2,000 very high priced houses.  If the airport had never closed, very few of us would ever have left.  But with it gone, most of us have moved to the various states.  In one of my first flying trips in Oregon I parked next to a fellow who told me he had an airplane at Meadowlark until the end.  I had never ever seen him before.  The following pictures tell the final story.  In it's better days,  beginning January 1978:

                                                      

    To my knowledge, there never was a fatality from a crash at L16.  At least, not during the time that I was there.  There were ones nearby from crashes of airplanes that didn't make it to the airport, and there were from crashes of airplanes that had departed from L16, but none directly on the airport.  My first night in front of the City Council at 10PM I was given 3 minutes to explain why my business shouldn't be shut down.  I was not given any particular reason as to why they wanted it shut down, but I was taking my best shot.  I was just into the first minute starting to explain that the airport and my operation were very safe when just like in a "B" movie, the Fire Chief who had been sitting in the audience (for what reason who knows?) stands up with his little radio and expounds:  "There has just been a crash at Meadowlark".  Unbelievable as it may seem, this actually happened!  The bottom line was a fellow and his wife flying into L16 at 10PM in a Cessna 150 with their 12 year old son in the baggage compartment overshot the runway and was departing when their engine quit.  The pilot had been having the same problem earlier with this airplane, but in any event he made a 180 turn and crashed into the Quonset hut.  They plugged directly into it and survived the crash, except for their son who was thrown out of the airplane and seriously injured.  That allegedly cost the Nerio's $50,000 from their insurance company, and Cessna Aircraft $2M big ones.  Another time I was having a quiet dinner at my hangar office when I noticed the reflection of a flashing red light such as a tail strobe, but no engine noise, and then a loud "Thump".  After running around the airport, I finally saw the activity in the wooded area just east of the airport property.  It seems a Cessna 210 on a cross-country to Orange County ran out of gas somewhere between Long Beach and HB.  The controller vectored the pilot to L16 which was unlit at the time.  A much safer choice would have been to choose the shoreline.  In another case shown in the picture below, I watched a Cessna 172 attempt a takeoff, however it sounded very much as though the engine was nowhere near to developing takeoff horsepower.  The pilot aborted the attempt and then taxied back and did it again, this time just barely getting off the ground in a stalled condition, all the time the engine running smooth but not developing any real RPM's.  After gaining 50' or so in altitude, the airplane did the usual beginning of a stall/roll when it plunged into the bank building adjacent to the airport.  Since myself and my ground crew had been watching this debacle take place, we were one of the first to respond.  One of my ground crew kicked in the banks door and rushed up to where the airplane was plugged into the 2nd story.  By now the pilot and his passengers, who apparently were on their first flight, were talking.  According to my ground crew the pilot said something like: "I hope this doesn't spoil your desire to go flying"!  In the newspaper article the next day the pilot was quoted as saying how he expertly guided the airplane into the safest crash site through the window after the engine sputtered.  There were many other situations of airplanes running off the end of the runway, sometimes plugging the Quonset hut, or if missing that, the rear of the buildings on Warner.  One of these was a Flight Instructor out of Camarillo airport.  Just hard to adjust from flying into a 2,000 foot runway when the usual was 10,000 feet.

           

    In 13 years of running the Sky Ad business, the above two pictures show the only damage done to my aircraft.  The Stearman, Bessie, was sabotaged at a time when I was in a marital dispute with my ex-wife.  The safety wires to the adjustable propeller pitch screws had been removed.  Jim Stillinger was making one of the many scenic rides I gave after a day of banner towing when one blade of the propeller went into a flat pitch causing much shaking of the airplane.  There was a very strong crosswind blowing when he landed and made the ground loop.  No one was injured in any way.  The last picture is my 7KCAB.  It's a long story and will be told later, but I was checking out one of my pilots in a taildragger when it happened.  After a nice breakfast at the Harbor House Cafe in Sunset Beach where we talked about this pilot's problems, I was assured by him that he wouldn't come up with something "new" out of the bag.  He promised that would never happen again as it had many times in the past in his training.  He made several excellent landings both on the wheels and full stall, then on the last one, while several feet in the air, he went full forward stick racking up a 9 on the "G" meter when a gear bolt broke.  I asked him later what the hell was that all about, and he told me that last night he had read some instructions from some "Wolfgang Somebody" that said the best way to make a wheel landing was to "plant it"!

    The banner tow activities at L16 definitely provided a measure of entertainment for the patrons of the Cafe.  A few pictures of that activity are shown here.

           

           There were many beautiful sunsets and calm days; even the Goodyear blimp would come by for a low pass.  But when Art Nerio hosted a "Celebration" for the ground breaking for the new Shopping Mall, the End was Beginning.

           

    And then the Bull Dozer went to work.  All airplanes had to leave the field and I made sure that I was the last person to fly out of Meadowlark for good.  Admittedly there were some unidentified persons making touch and goes on the old taxiway for a brief period, but officially, I flew the last airplane out of Meadowlark.

                         

          

    With the Tee hangars and the big hangar down, it was time for the Flight School and at last, the Restaurant.

                            

                              

  

    The last house to go was the Nerio's home.  This was where Art's Mother and Father could be seen working in the garden when they weren't in Los Angeles.  I was always amazed at how fast the demolition could be done.  If I wasn't right there exactly when the Dozer fired up, I missed seeing the whatever come down.  Just a few blows and it was over.

               

    The only remaining buildings on Meadowlark after the demolition were Joe Hughes big hangar and my Trailer and hangar.  It was sad to see it all end, and yet I was still there at Meadowlark for another two years, not with any airplanes of course.  But Art Nerio let me continue my business operation as usual, but it was eerie to say the least.  I bought 100 dozen old golf balls and made the old pickup area my driving range.  I still had my Motorhome and other vehicles there, so from that standpoint there wasn't much change.  But to say the least it was eerie.  I could see the ghosts of all of the past roll in front of my eyes.  I was here, I was at Meadowlark, but all else was gone.  Gone also were many of the problems of the past.  The two year life of Meadowlark, or East Long Beach, or Sunset, had now been extended to 10+ years from when I bought the Sky Ad business from Rod Worthington.  But now it was reality; it was over and gone.

Final Pictures of a vacant airport.

                            

Then the real development began.  First was the shopping mall in front.

           

    Then it took a few more years for something to really happen.  In the meantime, L16 was just a ghost airport only inhabited by my banner tow business.  It was absolutely eerie sit outside my trailer in the afternoon and not see anything move where once there had been so much activity.  And then that came to a close.  I gave Art my nice 35' trailer/office and said "Adios".  Every year I would take a trip to SoCal and take some pictures of the development.  These follow.  The first one is before the big hanger was removed.  In the picture you can see the fence I built to separate myself from my obnoxious next door neighbor whose name is very close resemblance to the one of the famous star of the TV series "All in the Family".  Every year I would make a pilgrimage and take some pictures of the developments.  The ironic thing is that exactly where my business was located, there now resides a small little park.  I doubt that very many people utilize it, but it there now and forever to commemorate where my life's goal was achieved.  Just a small little park.  

                            

    I have added a website presenting all of the newspaper clippings I saved over the years.  Please see:  Newspaper clippings

    An interesting site depicting other old airports can be seen at Paul Freeman's Abandoned & Little-Known Airfields

    In 1983, Joe Hughes made this Video of the people at Meadowlark. Not everyone could be included but the ones shown were the ones that frequented the Restaurant almost on a daily basis.  The 2nd Video was made in 2006 as a memorial to those in the first Video who have since passed on.

A Day at Meadowlark 1983

Meadowlark Memorial

 

    July 2011:  I have received some interesting emails and pictures from both pilots and non-pilots telling their experiences at Meadowlark, which I will include here.  It has been 2 years since the last update was made.  B.C.

Al Chilcote wrote:

I like the articles you did on the airport. My wife Donna Evans was working as an instructor for the Air-O-Crats when they moved there from Bellflower. This is where I met her in 1953 when she taught me to fly. She went on to gain her CAA Designated Flight Examiners Rating at this field. We had many good times there with the breakfast flights, hangar dances, bomb dropping contests and many hours in the coffee shop. I doubt if there are many of the "old timers" are still around. The only one we know of is Ollie Rhodes who lives in Anaheim.

One fly-in that was memorable was for the demonstration of the "Horton Wingless"  

We left there in early 1955 when she went to work at Torrance Airport and then Hawthorne.

The Fairchild KR 21 is one Kenny and Abe bought while they were at Bellflower airport. It was re-built but not assembled. They finished the re-build and found some one to rig it.

They used it to give fun rides and do acrobatics. Bob Reid of Reid Hillview Airport in San Jose had one also and he would fly down to Sunset Beach and he and my wife Donna Evans would put on amateur dog-fights. Donna often took it up after a day or two of boring touch and go's and would wring it out to get it out of her system. Sometime after we left Ken and Abe sold it to the producer of the old "Bob Cummings" TV show. In the series Cummings grandfather would fly it from  Missouri to LA for a visit.

Donna had two forced landings in it, one was when the crankshaft broke and I don't remember what the other one was.

There are a couple of shots of the Horton Wingless. Bill Horton lived alongside the runway and kept the Wingless tied at Meadowlark. He had a couple of promotional fly-ins to try and sell stock in the plane, these photos are of one beauty contest he sponsored. It was and old twin Beach (Bamboo Bomber) that he remodeled. The prop shafts were eight feet long and the "stabilizers" were not retracted until he was in flight. The stabilizers were the original wings of the twin Beech. The CAA refused to fly in it.

                 

Ken Deleske wrote:

I never met you, but my buddy lives on Pearce street, right where it used to dead end at the airport. We spent many weekends with a BBQ and beers on the driveway watching you snag and drop signs. I just got on Facebook with the rest of the world and posted a few "remember when" pics. Anyway, I took some pics the last day Meadowlark was operational. I Googled Meadowlark and found your page, thought you might get a kick out of some of these.

http://www.facebook.com/#!/album.php?aid=3896&id=100000806430161&ref=nf 

Ken Deleske, HBFD

Chris Epting wrote:

Banner bob--

First, your site is AMAZING!

Second, we're taping a short (5 minute) piece on meadowlark for KOCE's  "Forgotten OC" segment--might it possible to use a few of your images  from the site? Of course we'll credit you thoroughly (and I'd love to  send you a book I wrote about the OC if you'd like)


Lou Buantello wrote:

I dont know how I stumbled upon your story of Meadowlark, but I am very glad I did.

I was born in San Jose California, and moved away to the east coast in 93. I remember when I was a kid Mom and Dad would take us to Sunset Beach. I saw my first Stearman there and man was I hooked . My whole life was spent trying to get a licence but one thing after another it never happened.

I remember Cal Worthington ads: "Go see Cal"

I really wanted to say Thank you for your story. I didnít live the pilots life but enjoy all the pilot stories.

Hats off to ya.

Pat Matcha wrote:

Hi Bob,

I grew up in the neighborhood adjacent to the bean (?) field off Graham and my bedroom window upstairs looked west at all take-off traffic. I love planes and it was the perfect view. My parents moved from there in 2006 after about 25+ years there.

I was eating breakfast when the Cessna went into the office building. My dad jumped up (inside the tiny restaurant w/ the waitress w/ the brown beehive-still alive?) yelling, "He's not gonna make it! He's not gonna make it!" I walked shakily outside, then started running over w/ others, stopping half a dozen  times not wanting to see gore, climbed some wall/fence w/ the others and watched as all 4 came out. I was about 16 or so, and thinking it would burst into flames from all the leaking fuel, yelled, "Jump!" The couple in the backseat came out -woman crying, husband consoling and I'll never forget seeing the pilot's son get out, white as a ghost and eyes fully dilated out black! He was ok, but shocked. I remember running up the stairs when some guy used a crowbar to bust out the glass door. I followed, saw the nose of the Cessna pushed through an office wall, and gas running  out of the wings - wish I took that picture. I grabbed the son and led him out - he came along, then mumbled about going back for his sunglasses in the plane. I told him hell no because of the fuel.

In Jan. '89 while at Long Beach State, I stopped by on the way home to watch the downwind take offs and landings. I noticed the wind sock fluctuate bit by bit back out of the W/SW and I remember the last take off of a Cardinal looked pretty limp as it climbed out.

Then,out taxis the yellow Stearman. Now I noticed the windsock really begin to turn around to the west. I remember thinking, "Jeez, I should run out there and wave and point to the 'sock." I even opened my car door, but then thought, "Naw, he'll just be annoyed and think I'm dumb for bugging him..." So I stayed.

Well, off he went. I know a Stearman and or Piper Cub will go about 10' and the tail's up, but he went rumbling down the runway tail down. I saw him push down elevator after a big delay, then go a bit further, then a left/right(?) main wheel went off the runway kicking up dirt,  then back  onto the runway. Now I  was growing really concerned and knew he'd already gone way farther then is typical of any biplane at Meadowlark, much less a Stearman!

Now the pilot is way way down runway, and then he starts pumping the elevator! He gets about 15' up and is totally approaching Heil - I'm stunned now and watch as he pulls full up, nose up, while crossing Heil, hits the big pine tree in front yard of the house, and tumbles/wallows down to the ground. The pine tree threw up a cloud of dust and needles and was waving back and forth as the Stearman disappeared.

The other guys by their cars all looked shook and I remember another guy and me peeling out of there! I zipped home, grabbed my camera and sped over there.

I lingered around all day and night, and even got into the house it crashed into - they had a son about my age who let me and a friend in. I've got pic's of me kneeling next to it, its engine right on the edge of their pool - it was truly an awesome spectacle to see it all up close. It was also awesome that they both survived!

I stayed late as they loaded it on a flatbed bound for Torrance. The wrecker gave me the wheel cover, a small access panel, and scrap of fabric which I still have. The homeowner's son "received" one of the vertical main wing struts. I've got to go there one day and see if they're still there and see if they'd give it up.

The  last day's flyouts is a whole other email - damn, what a party into the evening hours - I had pic's but lost a number to someone who borrowed them. I was just 21 and drank into the night w/ my dad and buddy over there in Aug. '89. ...The big, blue civilian Otter, the Army marked Bird Dog cutting inside of the Mormon church's spire before landing w/ no problem, the Tripacer (plain white) taking off of the taxiway originating over by your hanger and turning hard left over the end of the runway and then on out - I've got the somewhat blurry pic's (2) as evidence - no auto focus then but they're still quite clear.

I work in Hunt. Harbour everyday and always think of the pattern traffic as I drive east to home on Heil or Warner. I spent hundreds and hundreds of hours just sitting and watching planes take off and land, as well a quite a few of my own flights - I've got the weathered hands and precancerous dryspots to prove it now at 42.

Thanks so much for your website,

Pat

p.s. My dad has website about plane wrecks in Calif. called aircraftwrecks.com that you might find interesting. I've got to have him add all the Meadowlark pic's he has as a special section to his website, now that I think of it! His sister, my aunt, is director of the small air museum at Torrance (formerly at Hawthorne) called Western Museum of Flight. So, aviation is a big part of my life interests!

    Regarding the C-172 that crashed into the bank building, I can say that I saw it happen in real time as I have written earlier.  That airplane was developing so little power that it was insane to attempt a take-off a second time after the aborted first try. 

Jack Silva wrote:

As I remember, Smiddy was the one who broke into the office building and pushed the door open against the 172 and let the people out. He had a problem because the nose of the 172 was up against the door. Yeah the pilot was a real hero all right. He was just along for the ride because the airplane was flying "HIM". The newspaper was the one that quoted that he "skillfully guided it into the window." Yeah right!. 

Larry Thomas wrote:


For kicks I googled N2089Q my dads old cardinal I think this is the one your buggy smacked. I found the plane by chance another guy with the last name Thomas has it. I have looked at the site but can not find a E mail address to talk to him. Check it out; he has a picture of her on EL Mirage.

Yeah that is the way it was, never heard about the RV being introduced but that was him for sure!! It is a diesel pusher he built himself and is still at my mom's house! I am glad he did not warm it up and go demo! I do not think we met formally but I was around Meadowlark a lot, Even stripped paint off of planes on the west side of runway. I am the guy that ran both of the hardware stores when my dad was out flying all over. Then in 2004 I was running a lodge in Big bear and met Jim Stillinger; he was kind of my manager I started talking about the Meadowlark and he said "I know about the place". Years later I found out he was a F-4 jockey and top gun instructor; he never talked about it much. I can see the number 8 on the runway here in Big Bear city as I look out my window writing this. If you get a chance Google N2089Q and see this guys page. Steve Thomas; I can not find his Email anywhere on it? Thank's for sending the photos I always enjoy! We also had a 172 for quite a while.

 (Explanation of the above:  One day after a hard day of banner towing, most of my crew piled into the "dunner" we used to carry banners out to the field, and headed to the restaurant for burgers.  On the way back, Captain Goubitz drove the dunner under the wing of Larry Thomas Sr.' Cardinal, thus knocking off the right aileron.  I had placed a radio antenna mount on top of the roll bar and that is what hit the aileron.  When Larry's father got back in town he came after me "steamin' mad".  He told me that he was going to go home and get his motorhome, bring it back and run it through one of my airplanes.  I responded to him asking if I could pick out which one for him to hit?  For some reason this hit him as funny, and we walked away friends.)

Paul Dixon wrote:

Hello there!

My search brought me to you. One of my fondest memories was a two hour ride in this Biplane out of Meadowlark around 1980?

The pilot was a real great guy and when I gave him a $50 to give this lady pictured here and me a ride oh boy! We did full stalls, loops and wing over dives over Lake Mission Viejo

We even flew next to a Fokker tri wing over HB on the way. I heard this plane crashed a couple years later Know anything ?? I really hope you can add something to my story!  

Paul is referring to Greg Vosovitch and his Waco UPF-7.  After Jim Stilliger had his mishap in my Stearman, Greg came on the scene and took over the "rides" business.  Greg passed away this year at age 60.

Marc Maylor wrote:

I hadnít seen the site regarding Meadowlark until a couple of days ago, I actually found it while looking through some other links, and it referenced your 8-E.  When I saw the pictures of the Luscombe at Mile Square Park, I just about flipped out!  My family has lived here in South Carolina for almost (5) years, and down in S/W Florida prior to that, for approx, (7) years.  Most of my flying had been done in California from 1989 to 1998 when we left to move to Florida.  I lived at the Huntington Gardens Apartments there at the corner on Bolsa Chica and Heil for several years in the early 80's.  Of course during that time I could watch planes on approach to Meadowlark.  I had some very brief flight training while in the Air Force, while stationed in Duluth Mn. but was unable to pursue it any further.   I went flying with a couple of friends who rented a Piper Warrior at the Long Beach Flying Club, and decided that enough was enough.  Like so many other I was just making excuses for not starting my flight training, ie..waiting to have all of the money available before starting lessons, or any of the other lame excuses for not just going ahead with it.  I had actually flown with either you or one of you other pilots in the Stearman, I just donít remember who or when.  I used to come out to the airport with my 84' H-D Super Glide for a little 100LL on occasion.

Reading your articles I was amazed how many of the same airports that we have both flown out of, or have frequented.  My first flight was out of the El Monte Airport, when I was a Boy Scout, probably 1967-68, I would have been about 10 or 12 at the time.  A friend of my fathers took up a bunch of us scouts in what was probably a 172 or 182 Cessna.  The flight only lasted about 10-15 minutes, to say the least I was hooked.  My father always wanted to learn to fly but did not pursue it, probably due to having to raise my two sisters and I.  I have always been made with myself for not starting flight training earlier in life.  In 1989 I started flight training with Sunrise Aviation at John Wayne Orange County Airport.  I remember flying into Meadowlark with my flight instructor on a couple of occasions, my instructor liked Meadowlark as well, we went there, even though we would normally use the practice areas out over Laguna Beach.  I knew even then that I was running out of time to use Meadowlark as a private pilot.  I soloed on December 17th (The Wright Brother's First Flight) and received my private later the following year.

One of the persons I took flying after I received my private, was my wife.  We flew to Bracket Field for lunch in a 152, I hadnt even transitioned in 172's at that point.  Instead of starting on my instrument ticket like so many other pilots do, I started taking aerobatic instruction, first in Citabriaís and then Decathlons, and finally transitioning into the Cap-10 which we had rent there.  Michael Church runs a very proficient school, and I was made a better pilot for having learned to fly aerobatics there.  I had an opportunity to compete in the Sportsman Class on a couple of occasions at Borrego Springs and Paso Robles.  I have a lot of fond memories of those places.  

Being that I had missed out on the opportunity to be a regular at Meadowlark, I started frequenting FlaBob Airport, joining EAA Chapter #1, that was best I could do considering.  Like yourself I liked flying to Big Bear Airport, and really liked flying out to Catalina (The Airport in the Sky) and have a couple of pictures of my (5) year old sitting in the back of a Decathlon on those trips.  Of course I have had both of my daughters (in their car seats) in the back of a 172 to fly out to Flo's at Chino Airport, for breakfast.  I think my girls were two and four at the time, my wife wasnít really crazy about the idea.  Now my daughters are 14 and 16 and are anxious to go flying again.

Most of the people I have talked to out here havenít had the opportunity to fly in the Southern California area, and sometimes I have a hard time explaining it to them, when I do I realized how lucky I was to have had that opportunity.  When I read you article about Meadowlark al of those old memories came back to me.  All the time I lived and flew in California, I never got to make it to Oshkosh, I got close once, but that was it.  I met an older gentleman last year that had gone on several occasions, and suggested that we go, so last year I went for the first time, WOW it was like the airshows at El Toro and Miramar March AFB, all rolled into one.  While we were there my friend showed me all of the Luscombes that were there, Eddie had a Luscombe several years earlier, so he could tell me all about them.  By the time we left later that week I was committed to having one of my own.  I was surprised to see how affordable the little Luscombes are.  I hadnít flown much after (911) and didnít know if I would ever again, being that most of the time, all you have access to as a crappy 152 at the tune of $100 an hour.  I looked around and found a 46' 8-A converted to an 'F' the plane has a C-90 with no electrical system, no starter, with fabric wings.  I bought the plane in late November early December and have been trying to get the plane down here from Rockford Illinois, we may luck out and get the plane down here the middle of next week, the weather hasnít helped.  Maybe I will send you a picture of the plane when it gets down here, Luscombes are neat little airplanes I canít wait. 

I will let you go now.  I just wanted to share my admiration for Meadowlark with you, I know that you know that there are still a bunch of us that really miss that place.  I wanted to let you know how much I enjoyed the articles you wrote about Meadowlark and your banner tow operation.  I look forward to talking with you some time.

Joe Hughes wrote:

 Hello to all my Friends, Fellow Pilots, and Kin Folks:

I got a call yesterday and was told that on December 6th at the Paris Hotel in Las Vegas, that I was being inducted into the International  Counsel of Air Shows (ICAS) Hall of Fame. I feel quite honored. I am member #10 of ICAS and was Sectary-Treasurer for 2 years and member of the Board of Directors for several years. The organization now has several thousand members from all over the world, and if you want to Perform in anAir Show today you have to belong to it as each year on December they have their Annual Convention and that is where you have your booth and book your shows for the following year. My last show was in 1981 so it has been 19 years since I have seen my Fellow Air Show Pilots. Of course most of them today are new-since my time and I look forward to meeting them in December.   

I recall the day at Meadowlark that Joe walked up to me and said "well Bob, I've hung it up!" telling me that in the middle of an airshow performance he made the decision to no longer perform.

Chris Ultsch wrote:

Bob: Thank you for keeping Meadowlark airport alive and well in the digital world of the internet. I started my flying career at Long Beach Intl in the early 80ís and was fortunate to log a few touch and goes and Meadowlark as well as down a few burgers before its closure.

I purchased a home on Heil Ave that according to my neighbor (Mrs. Elain Ward) was on the receiving end of a wayward single engine airplane. By backside neighbor claims he still has a blade off the damaged prop. Iím in the early stages of googling that incident.

I routinely drive through the housing development and walk my dog in the park all part of the original airport property. In my 5000 hours in the mighty C-130 Hercules, Iíve had the pleasure of landing at some very unique airports/roads/fields and dry lakes yet my memories of Meadowlark are still the memories that remind me of why I called "Clear Prop" in the first place. STICK and RUDDERÖÖÖ

Thanks for your outstanding work.

Chris Ultsch, Col. USAF (Ret) and proud owner of a home on the edge of Meadowlark airport.

Bob Beaman wrote:

Bob/Chris:

My dad retired from the USAF at March AFB in 1966.  He and Mom bought a house in Mom's home town at 16381 Ace Lane, HB (just off Heil).  Dad was originally from Anaheim.  Google Earth the Ace Lane address and you'll see that it was on short, short final to Meadowlark (landing south, of course).

My brother, Gary, (Cc line) lived with Mom and Dad for several years circa mid 60's - mid 70's.  When I got back from Viet Nam, he mentioned a few of the prangs at Meadowlark.  I believe he had some pix of a couple of them. After Dad died, Mom sold the "hooch" (in '75).

Both Gary and I became pilots in the OC area and had the (then unappreciated) joy of many landings at Meadowlark.  I remember spotting both of Mom's dogs in the back yard on just about every landing and noting who's car was (or was not) parked outside the folk's hooch.  

 Brother Gary (Cc line) has a remarkable memory and may be able to help in IDing the specific crash you mentioned.  BTW, thanks for your service.

Make sure you Google 16381 Ace Lane.

Bob Beaman

CW5 (Ret) US Army

It seems as though that house that the Stearman hit was destined to be a "Meadowlark" house.  Amazing what a small world it is.  B.C.

John Underwood wrote:

Bob,

Chris Ultsch's email reminded me that I used to hangout at Meadowlark on occasion.   I remember seeing a Jenny there one time and a couple of other rarities, including a very nice Rearwin Cloudster that belonged to a gent named Lamb.   I was enamored of the Cloudster, which impressed me as being an affordable scaled-down Howard DGA-15.   I know I have some pictures and will try to find something of interest.

Bob Giogri wrote:

But hey, I found you.  So, if I may...

I was a student at Ogden's ROES which was almost perfectly located at the end of the runway at Meadowlark Airport.   It was early July, 1969, and I was 16 and probably the youngest of my class.  And a long way away from Mom and Dad in Lodi where I was born and raised under a grapevine (probably conceived there as well).  My goal was a First Class FCC License which I obtained after an arduous seven weeks of stress, strain and humility.  I was a good student, since most of my peers took several weeks longer to get through.  I graduated from Lodi High in 1970 and University of the Pacific (BA Business) in 1975.  My radio broadcasting career began at age 15 and ended at 31.   I worked for many years in various aspects of real estate as a California Broker from the age of 23 until recently.  I am pretty much retired now at 57 and lazily trying to figure out how to finish off the hopefully last third (or more?) of my years.

I have many memories of that 1969 summer as a student in Huntington Beach.  Among them were the one or two meals daily I enjoyed at the Airport Cafe.  Don't recall the names of the proprietors, but I was amazed at the new invention called a micro-wave oven in which she cooked up my pre-fab sandwich in seconds!   After I finished the classwork and passed the damned FCC test (and just before I packed for home) he took me for a quick complementary flight in an old, fabric covered tail dragger (I don't pretend to now the make, model or year).   Anyway, I believe he and she were Mr. and Mrs. and perhaps had something to do with the ownership of the airport, though they were mostly in the cafe.  Please correct me and provide names if possible.  I will never forget them, though I cannot tell you their names.

I checked the Google map and found a perfect street view of the old class room building at 5075 Warner Avenue, remodeled of course.  My dorm location was the upstairs first small window just to the right of the entrance.  Though most of the airport area has been developed, there appears a large, bare-dirt area with a couple of metal structures of some sort about in the middle.  Any clues to this area's status?  Just curious.

There was an old dive beer bar to the immediate west of our building, sitting back off the street.  The older guys in my class would sneak me a beer or two.  There was a juke and the number one hits were Everyday People by Sly and the Family Stone and Stevie Wonder's You are the Sunshine of my Life.  And if I'm not mistaken, I shot a game or two of eight-ball on an old bar box (coin-op) pool table (or maybe that was some other bar in the neighborhood).

Enjoyed reading almost all of your site, though I was looking, primarily, for any further info about the airport and possible relationship to our class room building.  I know you probably cursed loudly as you cleared the corner or the building and the chin-up bars in the parking area.  Where to put a classroom building?  Why, at the end of a runway, of course!

I appreciate sharing my thoughts of a short seven weeks with someone whoís many years at Meadowlark Airport probably, in some way, had an impact on those memories.
 

Frank Kelly wrote:

Friends, Here is a picture of my Dad (Frank Sr.), educating a group of flyboys by means of a Primary Trainer, PT-17.  He was an AAF flight instructor at Ontario or Chino, not too sure.  Also he loved acro (next pic).  I'm not sure what it was ("nice ships" as they were referred to in the old days).  Maybe a Waco...

PS:  He flew the Curtis Vultee "Vibrator", designated a Basic Trainer, BT-13.  My cousin flew a P-51 and I have a picture of it some where.  I'll send it if I can find it.   Frank

  

John Underwood wrote:

Both pictures are of interest.    See if you can get Anita to look at the original picture with a glass and tell me what the last digit of the big number on the fin is.    Looks like it might be 0165.   Also the numbers on the horizontal stab and on the trailing edge of the elevator.   The number on the far right of the elevator looks like 75-1500-1 to me, which is the Stearman serial number and may be a prototype airplane, which makes sense because Maj. C.C. Moseley was one of the first contract school operators.    I think 75-1500-1 is still around.    But it's a PT-13. 

I worked for "Mose" in the early '50s and have test pilot Bud Phelan's logbooks that include every Stearman in the Cal Aero fleet.    He told me there were a thousand, but that can't be right.    Several hundred, maybe.  However, there might be a thousand Stearman entries, most of them repeated a few times.    Anyway, they were serviced and overhauled here at Glendale, and often rotated from base to base: i.e. GCA, Ontario (Chino), Oxnard and Lancaster.    Incidentally, I also have one of those badges that Frank has on his cap, but no cap to go with it.

Re the 2nd picture:   I grant you that looks like a single-seater, but it's a Meyers OTW-145, NC34314, which was a tandem 2-seater.   The guy on the wing behind Frank obscures the aft cockpit.    The location is Madison, Wis., because it was originally sold to Howard A. Morey, dba Morey Airplane Co.    Morey had the U. of Wi. CPT Program.    In the background you can see one of Morey's Aeronca TC-65s, which were used in the primary phase.   OTW-145s were advanced.

OTWs were never common.   Only 102 built of which some 23 or more remain active, which is a very good survival rate.   It was mostly metal construction (spruce spars, I think) and quite durable.    I looked in my logbook and have 34310 and '325.

Brad Newton wrote:

I moved to and grew up in HB from 1966.  There was a bi-plane pilot who used to dress up in a Santa suit and fly the plane from on top the wing.  Any ideas?  I moved from HB in 1984. 

Thanks for the website, really brought back many great memories!!

Cale Minear wrote:

Hello Bob.

My name is Cale Minear, Grandson to Jim Minear. I just wanted to send you a little story I have about the airport that you may know about or find interesting about Meadowlark Airport.

One day, when I was about 10 or 11, I went flying with my Grandpa, without anyone else's knowledge (that I know of). We rode our bicycles down to where the plane was tied off. It was a BIG ONE... It was a Beachcraft, twin engine, 8 or 10 passenger. My Grandpa told me it was the BIGGEST airplane to EVER land and take-off from Meadowlark. I believed him, because although I don't remember the exact date or time, the flight that afternoon was unforgettable.

I was allowed to sit in the co-pilot seat of this "war-bird" (I  could only associate the aircraft to things I had seen in books about WWII) as we taxied down to the take-off spot. I remember Grandpa turning the plane down the runway, and then BACKING the plane until the tail of the aircraft was pushing up against the fence on Heil Ave!!!

He gave it full- throttles and I remember the ROAR underneath me. It made me feel quite small... It seemed as though there were brakes on the plane though, because by mid-runway, we seemed to be traveling dreadfully slow to get such a large plane off the ground. I felt then like an adult does now when you are on the brakes of a car, knowing it is too late and you are going to hit the car in front of you.

At what seems like too late of a moment to lift the nose, it comes up and we are JUST off the ground. We are heading for the powerlines of Bolsa Chica and as a pre-teen, I am thinking to myself, "this is scary shit, but Grandpa MUST know what he is doing, we are going to clear the lines... I think...

We must have been traveling 10 or 20 miles an hour fast enough to fly, and 10'- 20' JUST over the powerlines on Bolsa Chica. WHEW!

We took a nice hour long or so flight along the coast and then it was time to return before anyone knew what was going on. 

I'm not entirely sure what was more exciting, the take-off, or the landing. We dropped out of the sky JUST over the fence on Heil Ave. and touched down.

FULL BRAKES

FULL THROTTLES BACK

AND HERE COMES THE FENCE, AT THE OTHER END OF THE RUNWAY...

We must have stopped short by less than 100- 200 feet.

I never told anyone of the flight until years later and nobody knew about this "Beachcraft" that was a 8-10 passenger...

I thought you may find this story enjoyable, I'm sure your memories of Jim are many and as fascinating as this memory

Janice Pineda wrote:

Hello Bob

My name is Janice Audrey Pineda. I am the sister to Ora Corcoran and the sister-in-law to Dick Corcoran.

I wanted you to know that Dick Corcoran passed away December 29. He fell and  broke his hip eight months ago. The VA tried to operate on him to set the hip but due to Dick's heart, they had to abandon the surgery. Dick's only option was to lay in a hospital bed and wait for his hip to heal. He eventually developed pneumonia and was not strong enough to make it. Ora sat by his bed during the whole time.

Dick and Ora spent many years flying and working on airplanes at the Meadow Lark Airport until it closed.  I used to stay with them in the summer and of course we all went to the airport.

Dick and Ora had to be the most known persons at Meadowlark. Dick was famous for his knowledge and memory of things past regarding aviation in SoCal.  B.C.

Bill Evans wrote:

Hi Bob,

I know sometime in the past I have met you.  Only briefly, so doubt that you would remember me.  First, let me tell you how much I enjoyed reading your

aviation stories.  In many ways your interest in aviation sounds very much like mine.  I started flying back in the late 50's in the Midwest and then later ventured out to California.  So many of the places you mention bring back a lot of good memories.  Funny, I happened on to your website by looking for pictures of the old Glider Inn, which use to be over on the Pacific Coast Highway.  In my research, I found out that it was once located on the Meadowlark airport.  Maybe I don't go back that far?  Anyway, again you have some great stories.  I started out in airplanes and then ventured into helicopters and ended my flying career in late 2000.  Before the airport at Meadowlark closed, I use to go over there often.  I remember an old aviator by the name of Abe Pastor.  One of the nicest people you would ever want to know.  I was an FAA designated pilot examiner for helicopters out of Long Beach, CA and Abe and I attended the same meetings every two years.  When I lived in California, I saw your banner tow airplanes often.

Fred Austin wrote:

Hi Bob,

First off, did you hear the Dick Corcoran passed away. The funeral was yesterday.

Channing Clarks Seabird was the prototype airplane. They built five more Seabirds after his, all production airplanes. This is one of those airplanes. It was damaged up in Alaska in the 50's and has been passed around by guys that never quite got around to rebuilding it every since then. Clarks, Seabird is in Anoka, Minn. Gregg Herrick owns it.

If you get up this way give me a holler we'll get together.

Mark Trier wrote:

Channing Clark sold his Seabird to Greg Herrick......Herrick also owns a Douglas Dolphin;....The wings for the Dolphins were contracted to Fleetwings by Douglas.....Building these wings caused them to stop production of the Seabirds.....This 4sale a/c is the later model F5....Clarks was the prototype F3........I nearly purchased this bird a few years back,in a much worse condition. They have done a lot o work here.....would be a superb a/c for this part of the country.

Bruce Gregg wrote:

HEY BOB! HOW YA DOING?...THIS IS BRUCE GREGG, ( "BIG BRUCE" ), FROM MEADOWLARK,....I'M STILL TRUCKING,AND I PRETTY MUCH LIVE IN MY TRUCK LIKE A GIPSY!. I PRETTY MUCH STAY ON THE EAST COAST NOWA DAYS,AND VERY RARELY GET TO THE WEST COAST ....BUT ANYWAY, I DON'T GET A CHANCE TO FLY MUCH ANYMORE, SO I HAVE MICROSOFT'S FLIGHT SIMULATOR ON MY LAP-TOP, AND ABOUT EVERY PLANE YOU CAN THINK OF,( EVEN THE SPACE SHUTTLE!!!), SO I FLY AROUND ON IT WHILE WAITING FOR LOADS AND SUCH.  AWHILE AGO I RAN ACROSS AN RETIRED AIR TRAFFIC CONTROLLER AND X-TRUCK DRIVER, AND HE CAN PROGRAM STUFF FOR THE FLIGHT SIM, SO I ASKED HIM TO RE-CREATE MEADOWLARK, WELL WITH THE HELP OF YOUR WEB SUITE, THE L16 WEB SUITE AND LOST & FORGOTTEN AIRPORTS HE DID IT.....HERE'S A PICTURE FOR YOU OF HIS WORK...HE EVEN HAS THE POOL IN IT!! I ASKED HIM FOR ONE MORE CHANGE, TO TAKE THE HANGER OUT OF THE FIELD BY THE OLD FLIGHT SCHOOL AND PUT A BIGGER HANGER WHERE ART WOLDS PLACE WAS INSTEAD OF THE WOODEN BUILDING HE HAS............WHEN HE HAS THE FINAL PRODUCT HE'S GOING TO RELEASE IT,  I'LL LET YOU KNOW WHERE TO GET IT INCASE YOU KNOW OF ANY OTHER "CIBER PILOTS" WHO WANT TO FLY INTO THE "LARK"!, (IT'S FREEWARE ALSO) I TOLD HIM HE'S VERY CLOSE, ONLY 3 THINGS MISSING....THE SMELL OF GREASE FROM THE CAFE!....."B.S." STORIES FROM THE "BUM'S TABLE".........AND GENERIC BEER!!!!...BY THE WAY ALTHOUGH IT'S A WACO AND NOT A STEARMAN, HE PUT THAT IN FOR YOU!!....HOPE YOU LIKE IT, AND TAKE CARE.   Bruce made these computerized pix of Meadowlark!

              

Al Desrosiers wrote:

Hi Bob,

            A friend of mine sent me the electronic L16 web site and I was delighted to get it. I donít know if you remember me but I worked for Harry Ross for a few years along with Chuck Dildine. When Elaine sold the business to John and Marge Turner I worked for them until going with TWA in 1964.I instructed for John Bassie once and awhile and kept my C140 until moving to San Juan Capistrano living in El Toro and Mission Viejo. I'm glad you got a picture of Ed Ruoffs UKC cabin biplane as I flew it a lot with Ed; anyway I thought I'd drop a line. I'm now 76 and living in Phoenix still hold a second class and fly right seat in a lot of different jets for a ferry outfit and still enjoying being the best place on earth in the sky.

           Elaine was Harry Ross's wife. After Harry was lost in Utah she remarried. Do you know Ed Rice who was an instructor for Harry? Their mechanic's nickname was Smokey.. The restaurant was operated by Bill and Marie Hamm I think before Bob Suko. When Harry moved to the main office Bill Fleming had the school on the North West about mid field. I remember Dick Corcoran who we called Friar Tuck and had an old Bellanca. Did you ever meet Dick Pfeiffer who had a J5 Cub? His # ! Daughter became a movie star Michelle Pfeiffer. Chuck Dildine still lives just south of the old airport and I'm going to see him in a couple of weeks and he says he has a bunch of old Meadowlark pictures. Dave Horal was a good friend and a great welder, thatís about it for now take care.

 

                                                                                         Take care Regards Al Desrosiers

                                                                                          TWA Ret

John burke wrote:

My wife and I were walking along the Beach in Huntington beach and saw a banner tow flying along. For some reason I thought of a banner tow that I remembered seeing around 1985 that used to fly over and he would honk a horn that sounded like a car horn, I think he also had a smoke system and would release smoke as he was honking.

I think the banner said "free car with home purchase" or something along those lines.

   Was that you pulling the banner or do you recall seeing that? Just thought Iíd ask.

That was one of my planes.  they all had smoke and horns.  That banner tow was so successful that the owner of the construction company started his own banner tow operation which was called "banner airlines".  They had a large fleet of Decathalons and Maules operating out of Chino.  B.C.

 

Bill from H.B. wrote:

I hope this is still a good e-mail address. Hi Bob, you don't know me but I'm Bill from H.B. 1979-2003. I too live near Portland Or. Actually I live in Corbett. Lehman field is right across the road, (it's on the Seattle sectional) east of Troutdale A/P.

You wrote one great website. It took me days to go through it. Brought back some great memories. I bought a Cessna 120 at Meadowlark in June of 1988. I kept it based at Corona. Had back surgury in 98, so I had to sell it. In 2008 I started building a Kitfox. Not sure if I can physically finish it.
How about you? Are you still flying?

    On D-Day this year (2011) I sent out an email stating that I was either in the 7th or 8th grade of grammar school on D-Day 1944.

Dave Hanst responded:

"I was dropping bombs behind the landing beaches" 

I was a squadron leader in the 91st Bomb Group, Eighth AF flying out of England in WWII.  I flew 35 missions over Germany.  As to D-Day, I can send you a copy of my diary for that day if you are interested.

Did you know a guy who hung around Meadowlark named Robert Karr?  He was an artist, he found out that I was in the Eighth AF and wanted some help in painting a WWII airplane.  He finally ended up painting a picture of the nose of my B-17.

Dave did send me a copy of his diary and some pictures of the base where he was stationed.  Dave and a partner took over my little Sky Ad office next to the restaurant at Meadowlark.  B.C.

                          

Heather and Ron Jagodinski wrote:

Thank you for your work on the site with all the Meadowlark memories.  Back in the late '70's I lived right next door on Fernhill Circle.  We used to walk down Heil Avenue and often see a late afternoon 172 silently dropping in over the 12kV electric line with the red light on top on it's way to a quiet touchdown less than 100 yards away.
I had done some hanging about small airports.  Gillespie back in 1955 where I learned to fly was much like Meadowlark in character.  Or Wittman Field in Oshkosh where Steve Wittman himself lifted me with both arms into his single seat racer BONZO back in 1948.  I will never forget Steve's smile.  
 
At the small airports in America people stopped and talked to one another; usually while sitting at some kind of picnic table on grass.  Early Saturdays at Meadowlark in Huntington Beach was always a great place to go grab a bite to eat.  When you ride your bicycle in instead of and airplane, you escaped paying the five bucks.  I would wind up paying if my buddy from over at Corona would show up with his green and white 172 Two Six Foxtrot.  I always promised him the landing fee plus topping his tanks with cheap Meadowlark gas if he would stop by and give us a ride.   He's an old 7AC Champ guy like you. 
 
There was the other guy from work who would periodically fly in with a blue and white Bonanza with a non-functional gear.  One could see him cranking it up by hand as he did the 15 degree bank right after takeoff; what an act.   The guy we knew with part interest in a 310 wouldn't touch the place.  "To tight" -- Tom (an F-100 driver) would say.  Bill with the Cheokee 140 said we should call it the USS Meadowlark 'cause the place didn't look any bigger than the USS Langley while you were looking at it from your downwind leg.
 
As you have undoubtedly experienced, like the small airports; a lot of the guys we knew are not around any more.  Bob was in a mid-air up near Burbank, Randy disappeared between here and Santa Barbara, and all too many more from mishap to failure up in the sky.  Some of the pilots sitting across from me at the Meadowlark picnic tables would literally astound me with their knowledge.  Then again, some were only machine operators who never knew anything more than they were between two VORs.

 
  

Sherry Wendt wrote:

Hi There,

I was just telling a young person here at work who just got his license about Meadowlark Airport.  I loved that little field and the challenges of landing on the short runway with the tall tree at the approach end.  I think it was a Chinese Yew or a pine tree.  I was in college at the time and I loved to hop over there from Long Beach and have a hot dog and French fries at the little cafť.  I remember there were chickens running loose.  It made me feel like I was not in Southern California any longer. 

I was one of the rebels doing touch and goes the day it closed.  It was getting near sunset and many of us would not leave even after they put the xís on the ends of the strip.  I remember a police helicopter advising everyone to vacate the area over a loud speaker. 

Many fond memories of that little airport. 

Thank you for your website.  J

John Orovich wrote:

I enjoyed your web site on Meadowlark.  I worked at MDAC in HB from 83 to 88 before moving back to Boise.  My dad was a general aviation pilot (he got his private license at Van Nuys Airport in 66 just before he took us to Idaho) so I enjoyed many hours in his 172 and Cherokee six.  While in HB, I lived just a few blocks from the Airport and golfed extensively across the way.  I also flew RC at mile square park.  I worked at MDAC with a fellow by the name of Terry Landen (he passed in Nov 07) and he told me of a great place to get a burger (Meadowlark of course).  We made regular trips to the airport to watch the planes and eat our lunches.  I must have seen you many times flying around the HB area.  I was sad to hear of the airports closing soon after I left.  I think I still have an OC Register feature on the airport from late 87/early 88 in my files somewhere.

I miss the old small airports.  Idaho still has quite a few, but has also lost just as many.  My dad used to tie-down at both the old Strawberry Glen and Bradley field airports in the Boise area.  Both are gone now (not dad, just the airports).

Dan Rhinehart wrote:

I was going through my pictures and found this picture of a "slightly dinged" Smith Miniplane that belonged to Vern Faler who at the time
lived in Garden Grove (as per FAA registration records). I was wondering of you knew Mr. Faler or remember the airplane. I ask this because Mr. Faler's listed address was only 6.1 miles north of Meadowlark Airport. I was wondering if he was based at Meadowlark?

Well anyway on July 29th 1971 my brother and I were visiting my grand parents in Gallup NM. The grand parents took us to the the airport to watch airplanes and my brother and I were admiring this white and orange Smith Miniplane that had stopped in for gas. When he took off apparently he didn't lean out the mixture and never  got much out of ground effect and hit some power lines about 3/4 of a mile off the end of the runway. According to the FAA accident report the density altitude that day was 9,200 feet MSL. This picture were taken the next day while we were talking to Mr. Faler. He walked away from the crash with out a scratch on him.


By the way, I haven't forgotten about you and Rosemead airport stuff. I'm still trying to track down Jim Berry to get info on Rosemead.

Joe Hughes wrote:

Bob, Vern Faler was based from Meadowlark. He is the inventor of The Smith Mini Plane. He had a shop in Garden Grove where he manufactured them. The wings folded up and he wound pull it home behind his Pick-up. This accident killed him as he was coming home from The EAA winter Fly-In  Florida. The weather in the Basin was bad, freezing level about 3000 ft. totally overcast and he tried to sneak down through the El Cajon Pass and he got into the clouds, Iced Over, went down and hit the ground, and flipped over killing himself. The airplane was experimental home built. His wife tried to continue the business but with no success. I think she sold the rights to someone. I don't know for sure, but she was trying. 

Robin Waldner wrote:

Hey Bob,

Well, I've been with United Airlines since 1985. I'm currently flying Captain on the Boeing 777 out of LAX, mostly to London. Dave Roseberry is at American Airlines but I haven't seen him for at least 10 years. I see Dave Hanst, Dave Hanst Jr., Tom Carey, Joe Grundy, Rick Blaty and Ray Cotter pretty often and sometimes Chris Allen when she's in town.

There were 2 Ernies, clean and dirty. Dirty Ernie was the one with the Seabee and also the one that crashed that airplane, I think it was an old straight tailed 172. Funny enough, that was shortly after I started hanging out at L16. I rushed over to the field when I saw him lose power on takeoff. He was lucky, only a small, bleeding bump on the forehead as best I can remember. I think it was either fuel contamination or that he took off with empty tanks and as soon as he got the nose up the engine died of fuel starvation.

Kirk Woods wrote:

I just read your story about Meadowlark Airport.  I grew up off of Bolsa Chica and Edinger during the 60's and 70's and read your banners every time I saw one.  I loved watching the planes from Meadowlark.  It was a great time and place to grow up, so reading your story was a wonderful memory for me.  Thank you for sharing it with the world.

 

Old Newspaper Clippings about Meadowlark Airport

My other sites can be seen at:

Home

Old Rosemead Airport

Short Field Landing at Meadowlark

Airplanes I have owned

The Sky Ad Story

Flying Trips into Baja

Yes, I use Slick 50

Please visit my other non-aviation related sites:

Old Cars

Moving Old John

Oregon Beaches

The Flying M Ranch

(revised 9/30/05: change counter)

(revised 1/20/06 new host)

 

 


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