From the Archives: DC-3 over downtown Los Angeles

American Airlines DC-3 photographed flying over downtown Los Angeles in 1940.
American Airlines DC-3 photographed flying over downtown Los Angeles in 1940.
(Los Angeles Times archives)

In the upper left of this 1940 photograph is Los Angeles City Hall. The Los Angeles Central Public Library is behind the DC-3. The library’s distinct tower is halfway between the DC-3 and the print’s right edge. Underneath the DC-3 is Bunker Hill, before redevelopment.

Prints received by the Los Angeles Times library immediately were dated on the back. The L.A. Times’ library received this print on Sept. 23, 1940.

I’m guessing American Airlines provided this photograph. The airline’s ads promoted an all-night cross country route to New York.


American Airlines advertisment in the Sep. 10, 1940, Los Angeles Times.American featured their all-night flights to New York aboard their sleeper DC-3s.

My research into this photograph took a bleak turn. I looked up this DC-3’s aircraft registration’s code. This DC-3 NC-16002, then owned by Airborne Transport, disappeared on Dec. 28, 1948, during a charter flight over the Atlantic Ocean east of Florida.

An Associated Press article in Dec. 29, 1948, Los Angeles Times reported, “A charter plane carrying 30 persons, including two infants, was long overdue and feared down at sea today on a flight from San Juan, Puerto Rico, to Miami.”


The aircraft never was located. The crash is now part of the Bermuda Triangle lore.

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