The Aero Club of Southern California (ACSC) traces its roots to the mid-1920s, when it was formed as the local chapter of the National Aeronautic Association. A few years earlier, during World War I, the new science of powered flight had captured the public’s imagination when aircraft were used in wartime roles. When it was chartered in August, 1925 the Aero Club set out to increase the public awareness of aviation and highlight the new and expanding uses of aviation in the United States and around the world.
The greatest challenge for ACSC in its early days was to help the citizenry overcome its fear of the new phenomenon of air travel. Commercial aviation, which took root in the late 1920s, had to earn the public’s trust and approval before it could assume the dominant transportation role it holds today. ACSC began to hold meetings and invite guests who were among the prominent aviators of the era. The group sponsored a display that helped christen Grand Central Air Terminal at Glendale, first commercial airport in the Los Angeles region, in 1929.
In 1930 the SCAA began publication of its official newsletter, The Aileron, is still published periodically. That same year, 1930, ACSC members helped dedicate a new airport called Mines Field, today known as Los Angeles International Airport. World War II and its unprecedented use of air power launched a new era for the ACSC. Military speakers inspired large audiences at the Club’s meetings. After the war, the Club turned its attention once again to commercial flight with a focus on development of airports which would be the new centers for industrial and civilian traffic. That subject remains a major interest of the ACSC today, with the organization in its eighth decade. With the advent of space flight, a host of Southern California companies played a leading role in the pioneering exploration of outer space, and the ACSC expanded its vistas to encompass aerospace as well as civil and military aviation.
In the early 1980s the ACSC took on its biggest project ever: a successful campaign to save the famed Howard Hughes HK-1 Flying Boat, then and now the world’s largest aircraft, from being scrapped. The Hughes organization turned ownership of the giant wooden seaplane over to the ACSC and for more than a decade the SCAA worked with several commercial exhibitors to show the airplane fondly nicknamed The Spruce Goose to the public in a huge, domed facility at Long Beach. When that facility was closed in 1992, the ACSC arranged for the Flying Boat to be moved to McMinnville, Oregon (pictured left), where today it is the centerpiece of a major new museum of aviation history.
The SCAA’s work continues today on many fronts. Its annual scholarship awards program helps deserving students who are working toward careers in aviation and aerospace. Since 1978, the ACSC has sponsored the annual Howard Hughes Memorial Award (trophy at left) to honor individuals with outstanding career achievements in the field. The list of honorees (shown elsewhere on this web site) is a veritable Who’s Who of leaders in the realms of aviation and space. The award has become one of the most coveted of its kind.
Everyone who joins the ACSC also becomes a member of the National Aeronautic Association, based in Washington, D.C., which is in turn the U.S. affiliate of the worldwide Federation Aeronautique Internationale, headquartered in Paris. The NAA and the FAI are the official certification agencies for all types of records set in aviation, from balloon flights to airplane records for speed, altitude or endurance.
Membership in ACSC today is open to everyone who has an interest in aviation and space: history, air and space technology, new developments, education, research, manufacturing, military flying, general aviation, commercial air transport and every other aspect of flight. If you have any such interest, SCAA members urge you to join them by using the Membership section of this web site.