Originally called Clover Field, after World War I aviator lieutenant Greayer “Grubby” Clover, the airport was the home of the Douglas Aircraft company. The first circumnavigation of the world by air, accomplished by the U.S. Army with Douglas World Cruisers, took off from Clover Field on St. Patrick’s day, March 17, 1924, and returned there after some 28,000 miles (45,000 km).
Cloverfield Boulevard—which confuses the field’s naming for a crop of green rather than a fallen soldier—is a remnant of the airport’s original name. Clover Field was once the site of the Army’s 40th Division Aviation, 115th Observation Squadron and became a Distribution Center after World War II.
Among other important aircraft built there, Douglas manufactured the entire Douglas Commercial “DC” series of reciprocating-engine-powered airliners, DC-1 (a prototype), DC-2, DC-3, DC-4, DC-5 (only 12 built), DC-6, and DC-7. During World War II, Bolo B-18 and B-18A bombers and thousands of C-47 (military version of the DC-3) and C-54 (later the civilian DC-4) military transports were built at Santa Monica, during which time the airport area was cleverly disguised from the air with the construction of a false “town” (built with the help of Hollywood craftsman) suspended atop it.
On May 19, 1938, at the request of Santa Monica Postmaster Philip T. Hill (father of race car driver Phil Hill), Joanne Reid (later Jackson) became the first woman to fly the U.S. Mail from Clover Field to Burbank Airport (LAX — then known as Mines Field — was not yet the area’s main airport) as part of National Air Mail week. She was 22. She was born in Detroit, MI on November 8, 1915 and moved to Santa Monica with her family as a young girl. After accompanying a friend in his family’s plane, she became hooked on flying and began taking flying lessons at Clover Field when she was 16.