Capturing the world through photography, video and multimedia

L.A. Times delivered in 1911 flight

L.A. Times delivered in 1911 flight

Jan. 2, 1911: French aviator Didier Masson on his aircraft loaded with bundles of the Los Angeles Times.

An article in the Jan. 3, 1911 Los Angeles Times reported:

The first aerial newspaper delivery service will be made for the Los Angeles Times on Saturday, January 7, between this city and San Bernardino. Masson, the daring French aeronaut who astonished Santa Barbara yesterday, will make the flight and carry the papers. The only scheduled stop will be at Pomona, where the annual celebration, known as “Pomona Days,” has been fixed to coincide with the trip. …

On Jan. 7th, Mason reached San Bernardino and delivered the Los Angeles Times. But, as reported in a Jan. 8, 1911 Los Angeles Times story, the flight did not go as planned:

Flying 2000 feet high and with a steadiness which allowed him complete master of his aeroplane, Pegasus, Didier Masson, the daring French aviator, flew over the city of Los Angeles, across half of Southern California, and landed in San Bernardino, yesterday morning (actually early afternoon), delivering copies of The Los Angeles Times to patrons in the Gate City.

Masson made but one descent, landing in a vineyard two miles beyond Cucamonga, near the Santa Fe station of Rochester. He came down because he had lost his way, and to secure fresh supplies of gasoline.

The landing was made fourteen miles beyond Pomona, where Masson was scheduled to stop, and in order to complete his trip to San Bernardino Manager Adossides instructed the aviator to keep on going, instead of returning to the former place.

After four hours’ delay, Masson’s mechanicians repaired the running gear, which had been broken in the decent in the vineyard and the aeroplane landed in San Bernardino at 12:40 o’clock, doing the seventy-five miles 1 hr., 20 minutes, actual flying time, a rate of almost a mile a minute.

The copies of The Times were delivered at the race track and Masson presented President W. W. Brison Jr., of the San Bernardino Chamber of Commerce with a letter from Secretary Frank Wiggins of the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce, extending felicitations of the day. …

The flight proved that aviation can be made a practical thing, and incidentally a world’s record was set, as never before had an aeroplane been used to act as carrier for a newspaper, or been made to perform a useful commercial duty. …

During his four-hour stop-over in Cucamonga, Masson was driven into Pomona where the photo below was taken. Photos from Masson’s arrival in San Bernardino are no longer in the Times Archives.

Photo above: Jan. 7, 1911: French aviator Didier Masson, standing in back left, shakes hands with Harry Russell of the Pomona Merchants’ Association.  Masson missed his Pomona stop, and was driven into town while his aircraft was repaired. This photo was published on page one of the Jan 8, 1911 Los Angeles Times. Credit: Los Angeles Times.

Middle photo: Headshot of French aviator Didier Masson published in the May 9, 1913 Los Angeles Times. Masson reportedly joined the Mexican revolution as a pilot and on July 24, 1913, made a bombing attack on the Mexican Federal gunboat Guerrero in Guaymas Harbor. His bombs missed. Credit: Los Angeles Times.

Follow Scott Harrison on Twitter and Google+

Thumbnail view of all From the Archive posts.


  1. August 14, 2014, 2:18 pm

    Great Photo!

    That appears to be a V8 (V4?) engine powering the aero-craft. Can any aero historians describe that power source?

    By: bruno marr
  2. August 14, 2014, 7:23 pm


    Found this in Wilipedia: “The Antoinette engine was designed and built in France by Léon Levavasseur. Named after the designer’s daughter, it was Europe’s most widely used engine until 1909-1910. The first Antoinette engine dated from about 1901 and was used in a speedboat. By 1905, Levavasseur had produced a water-cooled engine with eight-cylinders arranged in a 90-degree “V” and with direct fuel injection. It was safe, strong, and fairly powerful, generating 50 horsepower (37 kilowatts) and weighing about 110 pounds (50 kilograms). Its power-to-weight ratio was not surpassed for 25 years.”

    By: bruno marr
  3. August 16, 2014, 11:55 am

    Wow! Someone was able to get from LA to Pomona averaging a steady speed of 60 mph. It's been a long time since anyone on the ground has been able to do that during daylight hours.

    By: OrangeCountyBorn

Add a comment or a question.

If you are under 13 years of age you may read this message board, but you may not participate. Here are the full legal terms you agree to by using this comment form.

Comments are moderated, and will not appear until they've been approved.


Required, will not be published

Browse All Photos »