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Lighter than Air: SoCal Ballooning in Photos

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Balloonist competing in a spot-landing competition at the 1910 International Aviation Meet. From the 1910 Los Angeles International Aviation Meet Research Collection, California State University Dominguez Hills Digital Collections.
Balloonist competing in a spot-landing competition at the 1910 International Aviation Meet. From the 1910 Los Angeles International Aviation Meet Research Collection, California State University Dominguez Hills Digital Collections.

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.

Four dirigibles tethered at a military balloon school in Arcadia, California, circa 1918. From the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce Collection, 1890-1960, USC Digital Library.
Four dirigibles tethered at a military balloon school in Arcadia, California, circa 1918. From the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce Collection, 1890-1960, USC Digital Library.
A racing airship, built by Thomas S. Baldwin, parked at Chutes Park, Los Angeles, in 1905. From the 1910 Los Angeles International Aviation Meet Research Collection, California State University Dominguez Hills Digital Collections.
A racing airship, built by Thomas S. Baldwin, parked at Chutes Park, Los Angeles, in 1905. From the 1910 Los Angeles International Aviation Meet Research Collection, California State University Dominguez Hills Digital Collections.
A hot-air balloon advertising new Oldsmobiles at a 1925 auto show in Los Angeles. From the  Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce Collection, 1890-1960, USC Digital Library.
A hot-air balloon advertising new Oldsmobiles at a 1925 auto show in Los Angeles. From the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce Collection, 1890-1960, USC Digital Library.
A postcard from the early 20th century showing a honeymooning couple enjoying a balloon ride, carried aloft by an oversized California orange. From the David Boulé Collection.
A postcard from the early 20th century showing a honeymooning couple enjoying a balloon ride, carried aloft by an oversized California orange. From the David Boulé Collection.
Citrus crate label for Airship brand Sunkist oranges and lemons, 1910. From the 1910 Los Angeles International Aviation Meet Research Collection, California State University Dominguez Hills Digital Collections.
Citrus crate label for Airship brand Sunkist oranges and lemons, 1910. From the 1910 Los Angeles International Aviation Meet Research Collection, California State University Dominguez Hills Digital Collections.
burbank_stunt-thumb-600x894-16659.jpg
Stuntman Joe Gerlach, performing for a television program, dives into a foam pad from a balloon tethered above a Burbank parking lot. Originally photographed for the Los Angeles Times in1971 by William S. Murphy. Los Angeles Times Photographic Archive, Department of Special Collections, Charles E. Young Research Library, UCLA.
Golfer Ron Hollis takes a shot in 1969, with the Goodyear blimp hovering in the background. From the California State University Dominguez Hills Photograph Collection.<br />
Golfer Ron Hollis takes a shot in 1969, with the Goodyear blimp hovering in the background. From the California State University Dominguez Hills Photograph Collection.
dirigible_race_examiner-thumb-600x461-16665.jpg
Dirigible race at the Dominguez Air Meet, Dominguez Field, Los Angeles, 1910. A hot-air balloon advertising the Examiner newspaper hovers beyond the dirigible. From the Title Insurance and Trust / C. C. Pierce Photography Collection, USC Digital Library.
Photograph of a painting by Homer A. Hamer of a balloon trip to Mount Lowe, as envisioned by Professor Thaddeus S.C. Lowe, circa 1895-1910. From the Title Insurance and Trust / C. C. Pierce Photography Collection, USC Digital Library.
Photograph of a painting by Homer A. Hamer of a balloon trip to Mount Lowe, as envisioned by Professor Thaddeus S.C. Lowe, circa 1895-1910. From the Title Insurance and Trust / C. C. Pierce Photography Collection, USC Digital Library.

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