Collection: Meadowlark Airport

From 1945 to 1955 it was called East Long Beach Airport. Then until 1962, it was called Sunset Beach Airport. But from then until it closed in 1989, it bore the name that most people recall: Meadowlark.

Squeezed in among homes and businesses, Meadowlark Airport, much like the Golden Bear downtown, became a beloved touchstone over the years; a meeting place not just for pilots but also for locals who enjoyed watching the planes and eating at the small café that was located there.

Owned by a local Japanese-American family, the Nerios, from 1952 on, the airport took up about 65 acres and never even had a tower. But that didn’t matter. Pipers, Cessnas, Luscombes, and Taylorcrafts still flew in and out by the hundreds. People took flying lessons there, and of course, planes hoisted beach banners every summer day.

It’s doubtful anyone knows more than Bob Cannon, a.k.a. “Banner Bob” who ran his banner towing company out of Meadowlark from 1976 until the end. Now 81, retired and living in Oregon, Cannon told me that being at Meadowlark was like stepping into another era.

“It’s hard to say what made it so special, but I think most of the charm came from the fact that it always felt like about 1950 over there. Plus, there was no bureaucratic interference. We were all on our own at Meadowlark. Pilots could camp out with their girlfriends or families or Fourth of July right there at the airport. Where else would that happen?”

Interestingly, Canon’s first client was the much-missed Golden Bear, and so many of the banners he towed would advertise shows downtown. Canon also remembers the Nerio family who, despite being extremely wealthy, never behaved as such.

“They were very unpretentious people,” he told me. “We’d see them on the property in their brown pith helmets looking for cans in the garbage that they would actually go and return for money. Despite how much property they owned in the area, they were still very frugal and I always respected that.”

On the last day the airport was open in late summer 1989, Canon was the last pilot the fly a plane out of Meadowlark. He kept his business there for about a year afterward and would occasionally drop banners off from his plane, but as far as the last official flight, he owns it.“It was such a sad day,” he said. “So many friendships grew out of that airport and the last day felt kind of like the end of school. Everybody would be moving on, and wouldn’t be able to gather at the same place and share laughs and stories like we had for so many years.”

 We are very happy to introduce our newest line into the Lost Landmarks collection – the much-beloved (and much missed) Meadowlark Airport.

 

14 products
  • Meadowlark Airport Short-Sleeve Unisex T-Shirt
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  • Meadowlark Airport Coffee Mug
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  • Meadowlark Airport Bubble-free stickers
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  • Meadowlark Airport Unisex Hoodie
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  • Totally 80's Huntington Beach Map
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  • Old Huntington Beach 1930's Era Huntington Beach Travel Poster
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  • Vintage Era Huntington Beach Map Poster
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  • Meadowlark Airport Women's Relaxed T-Shirt
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