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Morning Briefing: 90 Years Ago, A Group Of Black Stunt Pilots Thrilled LA

William J. Powell's U.S. Army American Expeditionary Force (AEF) Identity Card, circa 1918. He fought in WWI in the 365th Infantry. US Army/Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum
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A little L.A. history for you on this Thursday morning: In 1931, East Montebello Gardens played host to one of the world’s first air shows featuring exclusively Black pilots.

LAist contributor Hadley Meares explains that the Colored Air Circus was organized by pilot and aviation educator William J. Powell, and included seven aviators, known as the Blackbirds, who performed for a crowd of at least 10,000. According to a Los Angeles Times article, the show made for “an afternoon of thrills," including sharp mid-air dips and dives, holding a V formation, and culminating in several parachute jumps.

Powell went on to become a champion of the aviation industry, insofar as the opportunities it offered to the Black population. In his autobiographical novel, Powell wrote:

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"There is before our eyes an infant industry that someday bids fair to become a bigger giant than any. We have an opportunity to get in on the ground floor, an opportunity to help develop this industry — we have an opportunity to grow with this industry, an opportunity to become producers — what shall we do?"

Keep reading for more on what’s happening in L.A. today, and stay safe out there.

Jessica P. Ogilvie


Coming Up Today, August 13

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We'll have more from Jacob Margolis and others on the fast-moving Lake Fire that exploded to more than 10,000 acres near Lake Hughes within hours of igniting yesterday afternoon.

Attend an online B-Boy summit, catch screenings of Selena and Purple Rain, create your most Instagrammable dish for a summer potluck, and more. Christine N. Ziemba has this week’s best events.

An advocacy organization that tries to keep river and ocean water clean says it’s won a lawsuit against L.A., Glendale and Burbank over the amount of treated wastewater that was being dumped into the ocean rather than recycled. Sharon McNary has the story.

Carla Javier maps out which schools have applied for reopening waivers in Orange County. You can see which district, charter, and private schools have applied, and what their application status is.

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The Past 24 Hours In LA

Lake Fire: It started about 3:30 p.m. and within minutes was at 100 acres. By sundown the fire — which ignited an area that hasn't burned since 1968 — was at 10,000 acres and had forced people from about 100 homes. A top L.A. County fire official warned: "Keep in mind this is a major fire ...we will be out here for days to come."

Policing The Police: Los Angeles police swarmed the home of Black Lives Matter-L.A. co-founder Melina Abdullah in what appeared to be a fake call meant to draw out armed officers. The L.A. Sheriff's Department says there's no video of a deputy's fatal shooting of 18-year-old Andres Guardado because detectives had removed the digital recorder from surveillance cameras to investigate a prior shooting on the Gardena property.

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Coronavirus Updates: We are "back to slowing the spread of coronavirus," said Dr. Barbara Ferrer, L.A. County’s director of public health, but we have to stay vigilant. Gov. Gavin Newsom said that the number of new coronavirus cases in the state is still too high, but encouraging, and that the state is turning the corner on the pandemic.

L.A. History: On December 6, 1931, thousands of Angelenos jammed the field of the Los Angeles Eastside Airport for the Colored Air Circus, one of the first airshows in the world piloted entirely by Black aviators.

Shifting Plans: Southern California Edison customers in fire-prone areas should see fewer public safety power shut-offs in the coming months. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti’s top homelessness advisor plans to resign from her position by the end of the month.


Photo Of The Day

Travelers head to their gates at LAX, which is usually bustling with people and long lines.

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(Photo by Robyn Beck / AFP via Getty Images)

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This post has been updated to reflect changes in what's coming up for today.


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