Things With Wings

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  • Hollywood or bust?
    Posted by Guy Norris 8:02 PM on Mar 10, 2009

    Reports in the LA Times say that plans for a $500-million movie studio on the site of Boeing’s former Long Beach production facility in California are on hold because a long-pending sale of the property fell out of escrow. The report adds the would-be developers still hope to complete the transaction, and Boeing says negotiations are continuing.

    A group of investors led by character actor Jack O'Halloran (of Superman fame) said in September that they had secured financing to convert the site next to Long Beach Airport into an elaborate, self-contained production facility with 40 soundstages, a water tank stage, offices, commissary, bungalows, a private hotel and an indoor set of a New York street.

    The site was developed by Douglas Aircraft from 1941 onwards and formed a major outlet for President Roosevelt’s ‘Arsenal of Democracy’ by producing Boeing B-17s as well as the Douglas C-47. During its 65-plus-year history, the facility produced more than 15,000 airplanes, including the DC-3, DC-8, DC-9, DC-10, MD-80, MD-90 and MD-11 and 717 passenger aircraft, as well as such military aircraft as A-20, A-26, C-74, C-124, A-4D, C-133 and early models of the C-17.

    On a cold-pre dawn morning in April 2006 I was one of the few to witness the last ever commercial delivery from the old Douglas site – AirTran’s last 717 and the final one to be built from a production run of 156. Here are a few images from that sad morning, and one (a month later) of the final Midwest Airlines 717 that was simultaneously delivered with the last AirTran aircraft in May.

     


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    The last 717 emerges from Building 80, Long Beach

     


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    Rolling across Lakewood Boulevard at dawn - a timeless ceremony requiring CHP to close the road between factory and ramp.

     

     


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    By dawn's early light...the historic neon sign is now a listed landmark

     

     


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    The penultimate 717 leaves home for the last time, to be followed moments later by the final Air Tran aircraft. (all photos Guy Norris)

     

    Most of the oldest parts of the site have since been flattened, but the 1950s era jet production site where the 717 and so many DC-jets were built, still awaits its fate. Across the runway, Boeing’s more modern C-17 production site continues to beat the odds and stays alive through additional Globemaster III sales. The question remains, will the recession kill off the studio plans for Long Beach, or is there to be a Hollywood ending after all?

    Tags: tw99, Long Beach, Boeing, studios, 717

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