Tuesday, June 14, 2005

‘Borrowed’ Plane Smashes in Parkway

June 15, 1947

James E. Fronimos is a man of distinction… but who really wants to be known as the first man Pasadena cops ever booked for investigation of grand theft airplane and drunk flying?

Fronimos, 24, a student pilot with a scant two hours solo air time, decided to take a joyride in a Cub Cruiser he found parked at Montebello airfield around 1:30am. He picked the Cub because it was the only plane on the field with a self-starter. His intent was to circle the field a few times and bring her on home… but the inexperienced pilot’s circle developed an uncontrollable circumference, and soon he was running low on gas.

While in the air, Fronimos had moved from East L.A. to Pasadena, so when he brought her down, it was on the Arroyo Parkway, near California Street. Fortunately, he killed the ignition on the way down, thus only crumpling a wing and scratching up his face when he crashed into a light pole with a “hospital zone” sign on it, and not exploding.

Officers took Fronimos to the drunk tank and towed the plane to the wrecked auto yard at Ward & Son’s Garage.

1 comment:

Larry said...

Treatment at Airport
Angers Mexican Consul
Villagran Prevented From Greeting Foreign
Minister at Plane by U.S. Customs Officials

Finger-pointing gestures and assurances that the State Department and other higher echelons will hear protests were features of an “international incident” yesterday when Dr. Francisco Villagran, Mexican Consul General, assertedly was treated discourteously by customs officials when he greeted Jaime Torres Bodet, Mexico’s foreign minister, at Los Angeles Airport.

In the verbal melee, Bruno Newman, vice president of the Police Commission and representative of Mayor Bowron in greeting the distinguished visitor, also found his police badge without effect in impressing U.S. customs officers.

+ + +

Torres Bodet, the educator and poet, was in Los Angeles to receive an honorary degree and deliver a commencement address at USC. A frequent visitor to Los Angeles, Torres Bodet had been an honored guest in 1946 at a lavish Cinco de Mayo celebration before several thousand people on the steps of City Hall.

Interviewed by The Times, Torres Bodet described an enormous literacy program begun by Mexico in 1940 in which everyone who could read was required to teach writing to one of the nation’s illiterates, which he estimated at 7 million.

To be fair to the hapless customs agent, who barred the welcoming committee from greeting Torres Bodet in 1947, no one was informed that a dignitary was arriving. “Advance word might have smoothed some of this out,” said Customs Inspector S.C. Wilson.

The next day at the Coliseum, Torres Bodet addressed the largest group up to that time to graduate from USC, 2,434, of which 65% were veterans. (Wagnerian soprano Helen Traubel was also among those receiving honorary degrees).

In 1963, on a return visit to Los Angeles for Mexican Independence Day, Torres Bodet said: “To be a Mexican has always required staunchness and fervor, because nothing our country has ever obtained has been doled out to it as a gift.

“The most persuasive and beautiful hours in our history have been those of intrepid strife against injustice. Jealous of our incumbent rights, we have never desired to affront the rights of others…”

Torres-Bodet, who was eventually director general of UNESCO, committed suicide in 1974 because he had prostate cancer.

Ruben Salazar, the author of the 1963 Times article, was killed in 1970 when he was struck in the head by a tear-gas canister shot into a bar during an antiwar demonstration.