Aerospace and Surfing: Connecting Two California Keynotes

15 Nov 2010
4:00 pm - 6:00 pm

470 Stephens Hall

Event Type

Peter Westwick

Southern California as we know it would not exist without aerospace. The aircraft and later aerospace industry dominated the region’s economy for much of the 20th century and shaped many aspects of Southern California life. This talk describes a new project underway at USC and the Huntington Library to document the history of Southern California aerospace. It also studies the industry’s influence on surfing, a defining characteristic of Southern California culture. A thriving surf community grew up alongside California aerospace, and this talk describes the consequences of having these two communities, aerospace and surfing, in such close proximity. A few examples will show how new technologies from aviation and aerospace helped transform surfing. Each of these intersections changed not only how surfers rode waves; they also greatly expanded surfing’s accessibility and popularity, and hence fed into surfing’s prevalence in Southern California culture. They thus help the answer the historical question: why did surfing, a premodern Polynesian pastime, flourish so strongly in Southern California?


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This event is sponsored by CSTMS.
Additional sponsorship comes from:  Office for the History of Science and Technology

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