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An Episode Guide to 'Blue Sky Metropolis'

Onlookers at 1910 Los Angeles International Air Meet | Courtesy of the Huntington Library BSM
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Summer of Space black logo

Relive the excitement of man’s first steps on the moon and the long journey it took to get there with 20 new hours of out of this world programming on KCET's “Summer of Space"  Watch out for “American Experience: Chasing the Moon” and a KCET-exclusive first look at "Blue Sky Metropolis," four one-hour episodes that examine Southern California’s role in the history of aviation and aerospace. 

How did Southern California become the aerospace capital of the world?  What were the consequences of this development for the region, for the nation, and for aerospace itself? Written and directed by two-time Primetime- and Peabody Award-winning filmmaker Peter Jones, "Blue Sky Metropolis" examines the largest homegrown industry that, nevertheless, has received only a fraction of the attention heaped upon the Hollywood entertainment business.

Like its counterpart, aerospace was an industry created by dreamers drawn to a region that was invented by dreamers — civic boosters comprised of newspaper publishers, real estate developers and Hollywood moguls.  Their entrepreneurial spirit surely resonated with those imaginations attuned to the possibilities of flight.  "Blue Sky Metropolis" explores the intersection of aerospace and Southern California from multiple perspectives: technology, popular culture, politics, race, business, labor, environment and gender.  

Did the “blue sky” environment nurture that combination of vision and technical know-how as it did for Walt Disney and his Imagineers?

Explore the Aerospace Century as it unfolds through the lives, often in the words, of the men and women who created it: John Northrop, Glenn Martin, Donald Douglas, Amelia Earhart, Howard Hughes, Walt Disney and Wernher Von Braun. From the pivotal 1910 Los Angeles Air Meet, the second public showcase of powered flight in the world, through World War II; the Cold War and onward to the rebirth of the industry thanks to New Space companies such as Virgin Orbit, SpaceX and Relativity, “Blue Sky Metropolis” is a sweeping look at the century in Southern California that brought humankind to the skies and beyond.

Wings: Aviation Takes Flight in Early Los Angeles

” 

– Sun., July 14 at 8 p.m.

“Wings” establishes Southern California as the undisputed aviation capital of the world, tracing its growth from the 1910 Los Angeles Air Meet to becoming a America’s “arsenal of democracy” during World War II, led by Jack Northrop, Glenn Martin and Donald Douglas.  Critics see an unhealthy alliance developing between the federal government and aircraft manufacturers.

The Big Chill: The Cold War Fuels Business and Anxiety

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– Sun., July 21 at 8 p.m.

This episode traces how The Cold War and Pentagon dollars fund the explosive growth of modern Los Angeles and create the military-industrial-complex.  Entire suburbs such as Lakewood are built in record time to house defense industry workers, while also restricting non-white races from living there.  Fear of nuclear annihilation spawns the science-fiction genre for Hollywood.  

A Space Odyssey:

 

Southern California Spearheads Mankind’s Greatest Achievement” – Sun., July 28 at 8 p.m.

The triumphant and tragic Space Race unfolds in the first-hand accounts of those who pioneered the technology and built the hardware that made possible mankind’s greatest achievement. Meantime, the military-industrial-complex expands unchecked.

Back to the Future: A New Space Age Dawns in Southern California

” 

– Sun., Aug. 4 at 8 p.m.

The end of the Cold War brings massive layoffs, but tech billionaires choose Southern California to launch their space companies.  Though committed to the “democratization” of space, SpaceX and Virgin Orbit include the Pentagon as a major customer.  

Top Image: Onlookers at 1910 Los Angeles International Air Meet | Courtesy of the Huntington Library

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Blue Sky Metropolis timeline featured image - the International Space Station illustration | Henry Cram

An Illustrated History of Aviation in Southern California (Part IV)

As the Cold War fizzled out, Hollywood and the entertainment industry eclipsed aerospace as the main industry in Southern California. Yet, the possibilities of space were broadening. Mankind proved that the sky was not the limit it once imagined.
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Our Journey to Building a Life on Mars

An ambitious project combines design and futurism to envision what cities might look like on Mars. 
P-51 Mustang in flight during an air show at Langley Air Force Base, in Virginia. | Wikimedia Commons/ U.S. Air Force

Vintage War Planes With Amazing Stories to Tell

Pilots say there is nothing on earth that can compare to flying. For those who painstakingly restore vintage aircraft, the story begins and history unfolds even before the plane returns to the skies.