The Long Beach Airport has a richly populated past, filled with names of noteworthy pilots and true stories that put
fiction to shame. Taking note of the value of its history, Chris Kunze, Manager, and Sharon Diggs-Jackson, Public Affairs
officer, rekindled interest in the Airport's colorful past. Earlier this year they published a stunning calendar
commemorating some of the daredevil stunts and amazing aerial antics of the flyers of years gone by. On February 20, 2006,
a special ceremony was held at the airport honoring two celebrated women pilots. The Long Beach Airport in collaboration
with the Long Beach Fire Department put on a spectacular demonstration under the supervision of Fire Battalion Chief,
Jeff Reeb. Two new, specially equipped Airport Rescue Fire Fighting Engines were recently purchased for the Airport.
These particular fire engines, designed to combat aircraft emergencies, are equipped with crash rescue equipment and
aircraft fuel fire fighting agents. They weigh 87,000 lbs each, and carry 3000 gallons of water accelerating from zero to
50 mph in 35 seconds. They are powered by 650 horsepower diesel engines. Carrying 420 gallons of fire fighting foam
concentrate and 450 gallons of Purple K fuel fighting chemical agent, they each have scene lighting and one portable light
tower, as well as infrared cameras that identify the heat signature of a cabin fire, and see through smoke to locate
victims. Crash rescue equipment also includes pneumatic piercing nozzles, the Jaws of Life, and ventilation equipment.
Impressive statistics, and to top it off they are 11 feet wide.
The ceremony dedicating the newly purchased fire fighting equipment ($800,000 each) bespeaks the interest in past
history. One engine was named "Pioneer," honoring Gladys O'Donnell, the most notable of early Long Beach women aviators,
who placed 2nd in the First Women's Air Derby in 1929, and won the race in 1930, was known as the "flying housewife."
Barbara (Erickson) London, honored at the dedication for her activity during WWll, was one of the first female pilots to
ferry planes from aircraft plants to combat areas. For her courageous service as a Woman Air Force Service Pilot she was
awarded the Air Medal, the only one awarded to a woman pilot (WASP) during WWll. She remains to this day a beloved and
revered Long Beach aviator. "Patriot" is the name given the fire fighting engine, in her honor. Following the dedication
ceremony guests were transported to a pond of diesel fuel containing in excess of 75 gallons. The fuel was ignited, and
plumes of black smoke curled over 80 feet into the morning air. The fire engine immediately spewed out streams of foam and
extinguished the fire in 10 seconds. It was remarked that it took longer to start the fire than to put it out. All in all
the event made clear that advances in modern fire fighting equipment are on a higher level than ever before, and are
welcome additions to airport safety and emergency precautions.