Reader Mike McAlister of Rancho Cucamonga is a reliable correspondent, one who’s lived here pretty much forever. Two or three times a year he’ll type up and send me an actual letter. I rarely have space to excerpt them in print, but that was before my blog.
So today I’ll type up his most recent one, responding to a mention in my Jan. 6 column of “Central Airport,” a 1933 movie that refers to a character flying out of “the Pomona Airport.” Turns out there was such a place.
Take it away, Mike:
“In about 1947, I became aware that Pomona had an airport, and that accounted for the low-flying biplanes we’d see, mostly on weekends, buzzing the walnut and peach orchards in what is now South Pomona.
“Pomona’s population basically ended somewhere south of Phillips Boulevard (it was an Avenue then). There was a casket factory on the west side of Garey, and Phillips was maybe a half-block south of that. South of that was in the country.
“My memory is a bit faded, but it seems to me that the Pomona Airport (such as it was) was between two rows of block-long chicken coops, in approximately the west and east end of what is now the Pomona Cemetery, south of Franklin and west of Towne.
“The ‘aerodrome’ was populated by one or two old WW I vintage biplanes. The ‘airstrip’ consisted of a clearing between walnut trees and was maybe the equivalent of two or three blocks in length. Not much to get excited about in terms of today’s excitement, but it was ‘really something’ in 1947.
“There was another airfield in about the location of today’s Cal Poly administration building. I wasn’t aware of it at the time, but a guy I later knew took his first flying lessons there. He graduated to B-17s over Europe in WWII. His name was Vince Batchellor and he had a bug-spraying shop in a garage off the northeast corner of McKinley and Park Avenue, north of the 10 Freeway. Vince is no longer with us.
“Brackett Field, west of the Fairgrounds, was a dirt strip that was privately owned but was a popular landing strip in ’47.”
And that’s the state of Pomona-close aviation circa 1947. Thanks for the local history lesson, Mike.