Santa Monica to Celebrate the ‘First Around the World’ Douglas World Cruisers

An open house at the Santa Monica Airport will mark the 99th anniversary of the seaplanes’ return to KSMO.

The Douglas World Cruiser ‘Chicago’ resides in the permanent collection of the Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum following its historic round-the-world flight. [Courtesy of the Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum]

The Douglas World Cruisers stood tall against the trees along the edge of the landing area at Clover Field on September 23, 1924. The Chicago and the New Orleans had nearly completed a circumnavigation of the Earth—they only had one leg to go up to Seattle to tie the bow on the route—but Donald Douglas, founder of the Douglas Aircraft Company, wanted to celebrate their achievement in Santa Monica, California, first. 

After all, the five total DWCs had first taken flight there in March of that year, though they officially started their record-setting trip around the world from Lake Washington in Seattle on Douglas’ 32nd birthday, April 6.

That monumental flight and the legacy of the Douglas Aircraft Company is what the Santa Monica Airport Association (SMAA) looks to celebrate on Saturday, as it hosts the Santa Monica Airport Open House at KSMO. From 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. PDT at Atlantic Aviation, the SMAA, along with the city of Santa Monica, will celebrate the 99th anniversary of the DWCs’ return to the historic airfield.

Special Events at Santa Monica

A series of activities and opportunities should draw people of all ages to the Santa Monica Airport on September 23, according to the SMAA, including:

  • Showcase of aviation marvels: “Marvel at the cutting-edge aviation technologies, ranging from historic aircraft, electric airplanes, eVTOLs (electric vertical takeoff and landing vehicles), and state-of-the-art drones,” according to the SMAA release.
  • Beyond the skies: Experience the next generation of mobility solutions, such as self-driving cars, the latest micromobility scooters and e-bikes, and more.
  • Community engagement: Discover STEM education and aviation careers, register for aviation scholarships, and witness an impressive display of aircraft, with Angel Flight West, CalDART's Disaster Airlift Response Team, and HOPE Animal-Assisted Crisis Response making the day “exciting and educational.” Douglas would have approved of the animal rescue mission in particular—he was a lifelong dog lover, with his favorite Weimaraner, Bar, immortalized alongside him in a statue of the legendary engineer and industry leader on the south side of the airport next to the Museum of Flying.
  • Food, music, and more: “Sway to the rhythm of a DJ, live band performances by The Rawn Side of Town, relish a variety of culinary delights from food trucks, and engage in fun-filled activities for kids.”
  • Special appearances: The iconic Goodyear Blimp will make a fly-by, adding a “touch of nostalgia” to this historic and future-forward event.

The event promises an “easy commute,” owing to the SMAA and city of Santa Monica’s deal with Veo: “Thanks to our partnership with micromobility provider Veo, attendees can enjoy discounted rides to and from the event, ensuring a hassle-free experience by using promo code SMAA23 for a $5 credit,” according to the release.

For more on the Douglas World Cruisers’ historic flight, see Honest Vision: The Donald Douglas Story, published by Aviation Supplies & Academics.

Based in Maryland, Julie is an editor, aviation educator, and author. She holds an airline transport pilot certificate with Douglas DC-3 and CE510 (Citation Mustang) type ratings. She's a CFI/CFII since 1993, specializing in advanced aircraft and flight instructor development. Follow Julie on Twitter @julieinthesky.

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