U.S. Space Force and Los Angeles Air Force Base attend 2022 Long Beach Festival of Flight

  • Published
  • By Edgar Nava, Public Affairs Specialist, SSC/PA
  • Space Systems Command, Space Base Delta 3
Whether you’re a Southern California native or a seasoned traveler, you’ll know that the Los Angeles International Airport is one of the busiest, largest, and most widely recognized airports in the world. Odds are, if you’ve traveled to SoCal, you’ve probably passed through LAX. Conversely, the Long Beach Airport is arguably the complete opposite in terms of traffic, size, and name-recognition. In fact, LAX on average has over 22 times more enplanements than LGB.

Although LGB is quaint operations-wise, its capstone community engagement event, the Festival of Flight, is anything but. Unlike a typical air show that features air demonstrations, this event’s focus was aviation-centric static displays and exhibitor booths. The event has free parking, admission, entertainment, and draws in an average 10,000 visitors within a six-hour window.

Attractions by national, local, and amateur pilots are the most popular. For local military branches such as the United States Army, United States Air Force, and United States Coast Guard, participation in this event has varied since its inception in 2013. This year, the United States Space Force and the Los Angeles Air Force Base were invited to attend LGB’s 2022 Festival of Flight. This is notable as it marks the first time that the USSF and LAAFB have attended.

The LAAFB and LGB have more in common than you’d probably guess. For example, although LAAFB is the sole active-duty military base in Los Angeles County, it’s arguably the smallest USAF base in California, if not the country. This is because unlike other military bases in the state including March ARB, Edwards AFB, Beale AFB, and Travis AFB, it has no organic runways or launch facilities. Instead, its operations are geographically separated across the United States. LAAFB is also one of the few USAF and USSF bases in the country with a geographical location within its name (most bases are named after notable individuals).

Due to this, the base’s presence in SoCal is eclipsed by its larger sister bases, just like LGB’s existence is dwarfed by LAX. Although both LGB and LAAFB live in the shadows of their better-known counterparts, this does not diminish their significant historical contributions to the aerospace industry. For example, LGB is home to the first U.S. transcontinental flight. LGB was also one of the primary production sites for the Douglas C-47 Skytrain. Space Base Delta 3 was previously known as the 61st Troop Carrier Group which served as a C-47 Skytrain transport unit. The C-47 airframe was used extensively through the 1940’s. In fact, LAAFB’s 61st TCG, or SBD 3, used this model (and model variants) extensively throughout the 1940s. This aircraft was not only an integral part of the Allied campaign’s paratrooper air infantry strategy during World War II, but also aided humanitarian efforts during the Cold War’s Berlin Airlift.

With this in mind, one can say that both LAAFB and LGB have been silently cooperating for over 80 years and that LGB’s 2022 Festival of Flight is just a humble nod to the continued relationship. Both entities show that name-recognition and scope of operations helps to cement one’s legacy in history, but that it’s not always required to leave a lasting community impression.

For more information on SBD 3 or LAAFB, please visit https://www.losangeles.spaceforce.mil/ or contact SBD 3 Public Affairs at SBD3.PA.Orgbox@spaceforce.mil. To find out more about the LGB’s annual Festival of Flight at https://www.longbeach.gov/lgb/community-information/festival-of-flight/.