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End of an era: Boeing announces closure of last aircraft manufacturing plant in Southern California

by AirTalk

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The first of six C-17 Globemaster III airlifters built for the United Arab Emirates Air Force and Air Defence is prepared before taking off from Long Beach Airport on May 10, 2011. Boeing announced yesterday that it will end production of the C-17 Globemaster III cargo jets and close the final assembly facility in Long Beach in 2015. Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

Boeing announced yesterday that it will end production of the C-17 Globemaster III cargo jets and close the final assembly facility in Long Beach in 2015. The Chicago-based aerospace giant will build the final 22 aircraft in the interim.

The company expects to lay off 3,000 employees at four sites in California, Georgia, Arizona and Missouri, starting in early 2014. The decision marks the end of large aircraft production in Southern California, once the center of the American aerospace industry.

Author D.J. Waldie, who has written extensively about the aerospace industry in Southern California, notes that during World War II Douglas Aircraft in Long Beach employed 50,000 people and at the height of the Cold War, it employed twice that. From 1910 to today, Waldie adds, we have witnessed the birth, growth, decline and disappearance of an entire industry.

What’s the significance of that for Southern California?

Guest:

D.J. Waldie, is the author of several books on Southern California and a frequent writer of the history and politics of Los Angeles; former Deputy City Manager of the city of Lakewood

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