August 17th marked the 33rd anniversary of the first successful transatlantic flight of a balloon--the helium-filled Double Eagle II. Pilots Maxie Anderson, Ben Abruzzo, and Larry Newman rode the Atlantic winds from Maine to France in 1978, three years before the Double Eagle V would cross the Pacific, landing in California after taking off from Japan.
Long before the Double Eagle V touched down in the Mendocino National Forest, balloons, dirigibles, and their many variations took to the skies in service of sport, the military, advertising, and of course show business throughout Southern California. The images that follow document a small part of aviation-ballooning history in the Los Angeles region throughout the last 100 years.
The history of the young Black "deb" illuminates African American women's history and the complexity of racial representation. Theirs is a story of challenging institutionalized stereotypes that limit the role and potential of Black girls.