By Chris MacDonald, Writer/Photographer, The Local News Columnist.
Recently, I met with Author Charles Lobb, who has put together a riveting new book titled "Images Of America--Torrance Airport." This thrilling 127-page work, chockfull of fascinating historical photos, is a Must Read!
Californians were panicked by the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, December 7th, 1941, and civilian flights within 200 miles of the coast were terminated. Airfields were comandeered and new ones hastily built. One of these was The Lomita Flight Strip, now known as Zamperini Field, after the former Olympic runner and WWII bombardier (Spry, 94-year-old Louis Zamperini happened to be at the airport when I was there.)
This 490-acre parcel sent four squadrons of P-38 Fighter Pilots off to war with one commanded by the future Judge of the Charles Manson Trial. Six other pilots became Generals, two became Commandants of Cadets at The Air Force Academy and one became the only fighter pilot with combat victories in World War II and The Vietnam War.
Japanese Americans returning from World War II internment camps found temporary housing at The Field, and the world's largest manufacturer of Civilian Helicopters settled there in 1973. The first runway takeoff of a Vertical Takeoff and Landing (VTOL) Aircraft was pioneered at the amazing airport and Aerobatic Champ Bob Herendeen trained at the site.
Charles Lobb is a Federal Aviation Administration Certified Flight Instructor and unofficial Historian for Zamperini Field. For more than 10 years, he has combed through federal archives and private collections for vintage and compelling photographs. many published here for the first time.
The Images Of Aviation Series celebrates the History of Flight from the Early Experimental lighter than air craft to modern commerical military, and private air machines. Using archival photographs, each title presents the distinctive stories from years back that commemorate aviation and its impact on American Communities. The publisher, Arcadia, helps preserve local heritage by producing wonderful books such as this.
The book is available at www.arcadiapublishing.com . You can also get copies of it at The Western Museum of Flight at The Torrance Airport, where Charles Lobb serves as an Advisor.