Dec. 8, 1928 Long Beach Los Angeles County California, USA
Earl Daugherty was born April 4, 1887 in DesMoines, IA. His parents moved to Long Beach, CA in 1902 and Earl graduated Long Beach schools in 1904. He attended Long Beach Business College, but it is unclear whether he received a degree. He worked in a bank for a while, but became interested in flying. He learned to fly at Dominguez Field, Los Angeles, CA and received license #87 from the Aero Club of California on December 23, 1911. He also earned a license from the Federation Aeronautique Internationale on January 10, 1912. Having soloed and aircraft before December 17, 1916 qualified him for membership in the exclusive Early Birds of Aviation.
Soon after he learned to fly, he accepted a job as pilot and construction engineer for the Illinois Aero Construction Co., Coal City, IL. This company built airplanes and conducted a flying school and promoted exhibitions. He flew their planes, carried passengers and gave exhibitions in the Chicago area.
In September 1912 he flew to the Chicago Air Meet at the Cicero Flying Field. By the end of October, the mid-west flying season was ending and Earl flew back to California. He continued this shuttle between California and the mid-west for the next two years, carrying passengers, performing and offering flight instruction at each venue.
During WWI, Earl was a flight instructor at March and Rockwell Fields. In 1919 Daugherty opened his own airfield on the corner of American Avenue and Willow Street in Long Beach. Business was good; he hired more instructors and bought more airplanes, and put on exhibitions to attract customers. As part of his stunts he hired one Clarence "Ace" Bragunier to wing walk. By 1920 he was known as "The King of Aviation" in Long Beach.
Through 1922-23 his business grew more and he and a colleague organized the California Curtiss Company to operate on his field. This venture made them sales distributors for Curtiss planes and engines in southern California and Arizona. He kept 7-10 airplanes busy with instruction, exhibition and transport during this time.
He made national headlines in 1923 by marrying his wife while piloting his own airplane over Long Beach. He got into the growing motion picture flying business and made a national reputation from his work in some of the early aviation films.
In 1924 Long Beach was growing rapidly and Pacific Avenue cut through his field. He moved to what is now the Long Beach Municipal Airport. In 1925 at the age of 38, he announced he was retiring from the rush of active flying and would fly "by appointment only". He continued to deal in plane distributorships and as a west coast representative for east coast aircraft manufacturers. Attached is an undated photograph of Daugherty in his cockpit from around this period.
In June 1928 Daugherty became the west coast representative for the E.M. Laird Company of Chicago, IL. He was given a new Laird plane for demonstration work. Earl Daugherty landed at Tucson on October 3, 1928. Again, he carried as passenger his wife. They were westbound to Long Beach, CA from El Paso, TX. They flew in 7617, the new Laird LCB. The image, attached, from a period newspaper, shows him next to that new airplane. The same, but better quality, image is viewable on the Joe Lewis page. Earl had two months and five days more to live.
On December 8, 1928 he was flying his Laird with two passengers at the Long Beach Municipal Airport. During a barrel roll, the left wings collapsed and he had no chance of regaining control. His passengers were W.E. Monfort, City Editor for the Long Beach Press Telegram, and Elmer Starr, Manager of the Pacific Engraving Company. None were wearing parachutes. Daugherty packed a lot into his 42 years.
Notification of Daugherty's crash appeared in the January 9, 1929 Bureau of Aeronautics Newsletter. Daugherty was an officer in the Navy Reserve. His passing was a shock to civil and military pilots alike.