Concord’s Early Airports
Three air fields have served Concord over the years. The first was a 1,200 foot-long dirt strip called Mahoney Field, 100 yards west of the Concord station of the San Francisco – Sacramento Railway, approximately where the BART station is in 1986.
Mahoney Field was leased by the Concord Chamber of Commerce and dedicated on April 25, 1920.
The California Aerial Transport Company flew the only plane it owned from Stockton to Concord, where passengers from San Francisco arrived in a limousine from the Palace Hotel. The plane went on to Fresno, Bakersfield and Los Angeles. It was a Curtiss Eagle which carried seven passengers and was powered by three 150-horsepower engines. The interior furnishings included silk curtains, a carpeted floor, cut glass flower vases, gray whipcord upholstery, and recessed ceiling lighting.
The plane made three flights a week, taking four hours and forty-five minutes if it was on time. Its maximum speed was 107 miles per hour and it had a 475-mile range. It made its maiden flight on May 17, 1920 and its final landing six weeks later, when it crash landed on June 26. Mahoney Field was never heard of again.
The second air field was on 160 acres at the northeast corner of West Street and Clayton Road. Repair shops and service facilities were maintained there for the air mail planes flying in to San Francisco’s Crissy Field, on the San Francisco Presidio. Fog is an ever present hazard near the Golden Gate, and when air mail service commenced in 1924 an alternate landing to fogbound Crissy Field was a necessity. The Concord Field was an obvious solution and planes flew in and out of there as the weather at Crissy Field dictated.
After the Boeing Air Transport Company started flying the mail in 1927, it established service to and from San Francisco at Mills Field near San Bruno, San Mateo County. That left the Concord field open to private flyers, who used it in the mid-1930s until the Pleasant Hill airport, offering fuel and repair service, attracted them to Sherman Field.
Concord airport was begun in 1923. In the next year Concord became the western terminus of the transcontinental mail service from Concord to Newark, N. J. The airport was located between what is now Denkinger Road and West Street on the east west and Calaveras Drive and Clayton Road on the north and south with other landing strips by Concord High School and Farmer’s Market. The mail was trucked in from Oakland and San Francisco early in the morning so that the planes could get away at dawn. Why Concord? It was fog-free and offered easy landing. This importance was not to last. In 1927, only three years after the mail .service began, Boeing took over the airport and the western terminus was moved to Livermore with Concord as an auxiliary landing field.
Other things were happening at Concord airport, Sometime in the next six years, a movie was filmed there called Hell’s Angels This is not about a tough gang of motorcyclists, but about a tough gang of flying aces in World War I, and the German terrain looked strangely like Mt. Diablo.
The Concord Airport was used until 1933 when it was given over to tomato plants. The old DH 4 engines that were used in the mail planes were given to Alhambra High School in order to train mechanics until World War II, when their practice engines became outdated.
Then and now
Cowell Historical Society