On Friday, May 1, there will be a special showing of “Breaking Through the Clouds: The First Women’s National Air Derby” at the Santa Monica Public Library MLK Auditorium, 601 Santa Monica Blvd. Doors open at 6 p.m. Admission is free.

Producer/director Heather Taylor will be there to provide background on making the movie as well as take questions from the audience.

The movie tells the story of the first all-women’s air race which originated at the Santa Monica Airport.

In the summer of 1929 there was great interest in aviation. There were major strides that had been made and were being made almost daily. Men’s races were becoming de rigueur, but the idea of a women’s only race had marvelous PR appeal. Will Rogers, looking at all the pilots, quipped that this was really the “Powder Puff Derby.” The name has stuck to this day.

There were many female pilots: Amelia Earhart, Pancho Barnes, Phoebe Omlie, Bobbie Trout and Louise Thaden are some of the better known of the twenty women who started the race. Nineteen finished in Cleveland.

And the race had more than just sex appeal — although it had its dose of that, to be sure. The PR aspect was essential to the promoters and financial sponsors. The sponsorship appeal was paramount then and is still important today for documentaries such as this one.

Santa Monica Airport is mentioned at least 10 times in this fast-paced documentary. There are a number of scenes in which the open fields of Santa Monica Airport are shown where there’s no single or even double runway, just an open field — and where planes can take off whatever direction they wish depending on the wind.

For more information, visit www.breakingthroughtheclouds.com.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *