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Downey's Aerospace History:: 1947-1999 (Images of Aviation) Paperback – June 8, 2009

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Product Details

  • Series: Images of Aviation
  • Paperback: 128 pages
  • Publisher: Arcadia Publishing (June 8, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0738569534
  • ISBN-13: 978-0738569536
  • Product Dimensions: 0.4 x 6.3 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,570,975 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


Title: New book offers revealing look at Downey's aerospace history

Author: Eric Pierce

Publisher: The Downey Patriot

Date: 6/5/09

A new book chronicling Downey's extensive contributions to this country's aerospace industry will be released by its publisher Monday.

"Downey's Aerospace History 1947-1999" was written by Gerald Blackburn, a former engineer with North American Aviation and Boeing who spent 25 years at the Downey plant.

Blackburn includes more than 200 vintage photographs in the 128-page book, giving readers a rare look inside the facility where NASA engineers tested early technology that would take man to the moon.

According to Blackburn, the idea for a book was conceived during a conversation among members of the Aerospace Legacy Foundation (ALF), which shares co-author credit.

"The Foundation's mission is to preserve the historical record of the aerospace industry in Southern California, primarily the old NASA site in Downey," Blackburn said. "During discussions one day somebody thought it would be a good idea to put together a book that documented some of that history for the public."

Blackburn said the site's vast history forced the group to split the book into two volumes. "Downey's Aerospace History 1947-1999" is actually the second part to the 2-book series.

"Much like 'Star Wars,' we wrote the second one first," Blackburn said.

The prequel, tentatively titled "Vultee Field," will cover the site's early aircraft days, dating back to 1928 when local industrialist E.M. Smith purchased the land for his private company, EMSCO Aircraft. That book is currently being written by Jim Busby, a vice president of ALF, Blackburn said.

Blackburn estimated it took about one year to complete "Downey's Aerospace History." Much of that time was spent documenting the thousands of images he collected from city officials, the Downey Historical Society and private collectors.

"Many images were not documented very well in terms of what they were of, dates, those kinds of things," he said.

Arcadia Publishing is publisher of "Downey's Aerospace History." Arcadia assumed the cost of publishing and will donate 50 percent of royalties back to ALF.

"From our standpoint it wasn't so much the profit that we were after but educating the public," Blackburn said.

Blackburn said he hoped the book will spur former employees to step forward and share their memories of the former NASA site. He also hopes the plant's historical significance is not lost to future generations.

"I'm hoping the public will recall some memories of what went on here and come to the realization that some important things happened in Downey that should be shared," he said.

"Downey's Aerospace History 1947-1999," $21.00, Arcadia Publishing. Available at local retailers, online bookstores, or through Arcadia Publishing at or (888) 313-2665.

Title: Sneak peak at new Downey book

Author: Eric Pierce

Publisher: The Downey Patriot

Date: 6/1/2009

It won't be released to the public until next week, but a new book chronicling Downey's rich aerospace history was made available to media today.

"Downey's Aerospace History, 1947-1999" is part of Arcadia Publishing's Images of Aviation series. More than 200 images and photographs are included in the 128-page, softcover book, along with commentary from author Gerald Blackburn, a former North American Aviation engineer, and the Aerospace Legacy Foundation.

From the news release:

"A wealthy Los Angeles industrialist, E.M. Smith, began this history with the purchase of a portion of the Huynan Ranch in August 1929. His company, EMSCO Aircraft, was the first of what would become a memorable list of pioneers in avaition and space.

"The story of the site's aerospace history extends from North American Aviation's tenancy in 1947 to the site closure in 1999 when engineers and scientists designed and developed the aerospace technology that took man to the moon and established a permanent presence in space."

The Downey Historical Society seems to have contributed a great deal to the book as well.

"Downey's Aerospace History, 1947-1999" will be available beginning June 8 at local retailers, online bookstores, or through Arcadia Publishing at or (888) 313-2665.

We'll have a review of the book in this week's issue, June 5.

About the Author

Author Gerald A. Blackburn was an engineer and project manager with North American Aviation and the Boeing Company, spending 35 years at the Downey site. Here he tells the story of the unique heritage associated with this site and city through photographs and images from private and public archives, including the collection of Downey’s Aerospace Legacy Foundation.

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By William F. Daugherty on August 26, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a fantastic book written on all the Space Vehicles I worked on during my employment at North American Aviation (34 years). It covered thoroughly the Navaho Missile, Apollo Capsule/Service Module and Space Shuttle. I helped set up Downey Control Room for the first Shuttle Flight and followed each flight afterwards even though I was working on the B1A-B1B Bombers.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By spacey on October 20, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
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