Concord’s Mahoney Field steeped in aviation history

Concord’s Mahoney Field steeped in aviation history
A Boeing 40-B2 left Concord’s Mahoney Field on Sept. 1, 1927, carrying mail and two passengers on the first coast to coast commercial flight. (Photo illustration)

CONCORD, CA (May 24, 2023) — Back in the early 1920s, Concord had an airport named Mahoney Field in the Mahoney tract off Clayton Road.

The Concord Chamber of Commerce leased it with investors from the First National Bank of Concord. The California Aerial Transportation Co. of Stockton used it. For $100 plus war tax, you could fly to Los Angeles with four stops.

The Avion had two pilots and six passengers. Its first flight was on June 7, 1920, however, the Avion crashed in L.A. on its return trip on June 26, 1920, and the service ceased.

In 1924, the airfield opened again to carry mail as an alternative to flying to Crissy Field at the San Francisco Presidio because of fog, which was an ever-present hazard. Planes flew in and out of Concord as the weather in San Francisco dictated.

Boeing Air Transport started flying the mail in 1927 and took over the airport. The western terminus was moved to Livermore, with Concord as an auxiliary landing field.

A movie called “Hell’s Angels” was also filmed at Concord airport sometime in the next six years. This was not about a tough gang of motorcyclists, but a tough gang of flying aces in World War I. The German terrain looked a lot like the terrain around Mount Diablo.

By the way, this is the reason we have the Vietnam memorial on a hill in Newhall Park. The vets thought it looked just like the hillsides in Vietnam.

Historic flight

On Sept. 1, 1927, a Boeing 40-B2 took off and headed east, while hundreds of Concord citizens and Californians along the route watched. The plane flew 150 mph. With two passengers, mail and other cargo, it landed in New York 32 hours later. This was the first coast to coast commercial passenger flight.

Soon after giving Concord a special place in aviation history, Boeing moved its operations to a larger metropolitan airport. Boeing Air Transport later became United Airlines.

Private pilots used the small field in Concord in the ’30s. It fell into disuse in the 1940s after the opening of Sherman Field in Pleasant Hill and Buchanan Field in the Concord area.

The abandoned airport area was turned into tomato plants and eventually housing. The old DH-4 engines that were used in the mail planes were given to Alhambra High School to help train mechanics until World War II, when their practice engines became obsolete.

There were hopes that there would be a marker, statue or plaque commemorating the historic flight, but nothing ever materialized.

Carol Longshore
Carol Longshore

Carol Longshore has been a Concord resident since 1950. She is a community leader and past president of the Concord Historical Society. Send comments and suggestions for future topics.