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Hollywood Airfield Photos & History

Hollywood Airfield Photos & History

One of Hollywood's least known bit of history was that Hollywood had its own airfields, for a very short periods.  Airfields of the Hollywood aviators were often motion picture sets. Mostly open cropland at the time, the San Fernando Valley of Los Angeles was the setting for hundreds of feature films and shorts. The largest collection of Hollywood Airfield photos is on the hollywoodphotographs.com website.

Photo of DeMille Field

DeMille Aviation Fields

From the turn of the 20th century, oil wells and derricks peppered the landscape in the area just south of Hollywood. While while derricks were fast becoming part of the landscape around Wilshire Boulevard in the very early part of the 20th century, really civil aviation also left a mark in this area. In 1918, director, Cecil B DeMille, formed the Mercury Aviation Company and established an airfield known as DeMille field number one on Melrose Avenue and Fairfax Ave. in 1919, Mercury aviation moved its general offices and planes to his DeMille field number two and Wilshire Boulevard and Fairfax Avenue (then known as Crescent Avenue).

A unique feature of the DeMille field number two, was his oil filling station located on the corner of Fairfax Avenue, which was equipped on one side to fill cars and on the other side to fill airplanes. Bordering the aviation field was a parking area for sightseers who often came by car to watch airplane races and other related events.

In 1922, DeMille left Mercury Aviation and the DeMille Field #2 was added to the Rogers Airfield. By this time, the Rogers Airfield operated on both sides of Wilshire Blvd. at Fairfax.  Unfortunately, Emory Rogers was killed in an airplane crash in late 1921.  In 1923, the Rogers Airfield went out of business.

Photo of Chaplin Airdrome

Chaplin Airdrome

Businessman, Syd Chaplin came to Hollywood in 1919 to manage his brother Charles Chaplin. The well-financed, he explored the struggling aeronautical industry and founded the Chaplin Airdrome across Wilshire Boulevard from the DeMille field number two. As with many businesses during those days, the company grew rapidly and the established the first successful regular service between Wilmington and Avalon. Unfortunately, the aerodrome operated for only a short period and was taken over by Emory Rogers, in 1920.

Photo of B.H. DeLay

More Hollywood Airfields

Other Hollywood personalities, also, got into the aviation business.  Movie studio owner, Thomas Ince, established the Ince Aviation Field in Venice, California. Ince was the owner of the Thomas Ince Studio in Culver City and used his airfield for some of his aviation movies. Later, the airfield was taken over by aviator, B.H. DeLay.

Robert Spence Aerial Photographer

Unquestionably, the most prolific and successful aerial photographer was Robert Spence.  Located in Los Angeles, Robert Spence’s aerial photography began taking aerial photos in 1919.  Using bi-planes, Spence was able to fly low to the ground to take his wonderful photos.    For most of his career, he used large format cameras that used glass negatives.  Upon his retirement, his collection of thousands of negatives and photos was donated to UCLA.

Photo of Ince Airfield

Hollywood Airfield Photo Collection 

To see many vintage DeMille Field #2, Chaplin Airdrome and Ince Field photos, please visit the hollywoodphotographs.com 

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