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Defending L.A.

Defending L.A.

Dec. 16, 1957: A pair of Air Force F-89 Scorpion interceptors flash low over a  remote radar station on Santa Rosa Island after successfully repelling a simulated enemy aircraft during a drill off the Southern California coast. Five Los Angeles Times staffers — three writers and photographers John Malmin and Larry Sharkey — were assigned to cover the North American Air Defense Command (NORAD) test of Los Angeles-area defenses.

A caption with the map below explained how the Times staffers were part of the NORAD drill:

HOW IT WAS DONE — Map shows how simulated bomber attack was thwarted by the 437th Fighter Interceptor Squadon of the Air Defense Command at Oxnard Air Force Base. “Bogie” track is course flown by Marvin Miles, Times aviation editor, who flew in target plane. In the elaborate test of continental defenses Miles chose altitude, time and course of the target, first flying 285 miles out to sea. Gene Sherman and Larry Sharkey of the Times “scrambled” when the alarm sounded and flew in F-89 Scorpion to meet and destroy the target plane. Jerry Hulse and John Malmin, Times men, “saw” maneuver by radar on Santa Rosa Island.

This photo by Malmin was the lead image for a full-page layout on the NORAD drill. Sharkey was in one of the F-89 intercepters, but because four flew in the drill, it’s 50-50 if his aircraft is pictured here.

The Oxnard Air Force Base was closed in 1970 and is now Camarillo Airport.

Map published in the Dec. 16, 1957, Los Angeles Times shows the routes of the aircraft taking part in a NORAD drill.


  1. April 11, 2011, 6:50 pm

    Amazing! I love stuff like this. The photo looks like something from a B Hollywood movie, or else some future movie by Peter Jackson. I’m glad you post historically interesting stories like this.

    By: Shawn
  2. April 11, 2011, 7:56 pm

    Rhe Scorpion is an awesome aircraft. There is one on display at the Castle Air Museum in Atwater,CA.

  3. April 12, 2011, 6:26 am

    The adds aren't 50/50 that he's in one of those jets. The odds are 3 to 1.

    By: WaltB

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