Mail, Mayhem, and Mischief — Aviation on the Channel Islands

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Date: July 16, 2014
Contact: Yvonne Menard, 805-658-5725

On September 10, 2014, Channel Islands National Park will host a special lecture about the history of aviation on the northern Channel Islands by Dr. Charles Rennie. Rennie will review a colorful aviation record from the 1920s to today, including some aviation accidents.

Aviation on the five Channel Island National Park islands began in the 1920s as a novelty. Air transport of mail and people to the islands soon assumed prominence. Santa Barbara’s George Hammond was the most important and colorful pilot during this period.

World War II caused a temporary halt to private aviation. The post-war era saw the rise of illicit aviation activity on the islands. This period was dominated by the exploits of Torrance, CA pilot Roger Keeney and others.

Beginning in the 1960s, both commercial aviation and private aviation assumed increasing importance to serve the needs of the owners of Santa Rosa and Santa Cruz Islands. During the present era, military, National Park Service, and National Marine Sanctuary regulations have determined the role of aviation on the islands.

Rennie received a B.S. in marine biology from the University of Southern California and an M.D. from the UCLA School of Medicine. He is Adjunct Curator of Marine Mammals at the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History, Medical Director of Channel Islands National Park, and a consultant in both marine mammalogy and paleontology for the Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History. He has done research, consulted, lectured, and published on topics in marine mammal pathology, wilderness and travel medicine, and the history of the California Channel Islands. He has been an instructor for numerous institutions and was formerly UCLA faculty.

The talk will be held on September 10, 2014. The From Shore to Sea lecture series is sponsored by Channel Islands National Park to further the understanding of current research on the Channel Islands and surrounding marine waters. The lectures occur at 7:00 pm on the second Wednesday of March, April, May, September, October, and November at the Channel Islands National Park Robert J. Lagomarsino Visitor Center, 1901 Spinnaker Drive in Ventura Harbor. The programs are free and open to the public. 

Last updated: February 28, 2015

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