Monument to Doomed Australian Sky King
In front of the Business Jet Center near the Oakland Airport are two subdued monuments to pioneer aviators, erected in 1936. The first honors Sir Charles Kingsford-Smith. Kingsford-Smith was a heroic Australian sky king -- the Sydney airport is named for him -- from the same era that produced Charles Lindbergh, Amelia Earhart and Emilio Carranza. In 1928, he and three crew members were the first to fly from the US to Australia (departing from Oakland with stops in Hawaii and Fiji). Kingsford-Smith then flew on, to complete at Oakland the aerial circumnavigation of the world.
In 1935, two years before Earharts disappearance, Kingsford-Smith vanished somewhere over the Andaman Sea near Burma. A wheel was found a year later by fisherman, and is on display at the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney. A large Kingsford-Smith memorial is also a major attraction in Brisbane.
The second monument is to US Army aviators Albert Hegenberger and Lester Maitland, who in June 1927, a month after Lindbergh made his flight, flew the first non-stop trans-Pacific flight from Oakland to Oahu (2,400 miles vs. Lindbergh's 3,300).
While not nearly as well known as Kingsford-Smith, perhaps because he lived to be 88 and died peacefully, the road to the Oakland airport is named for Hegenberger, and a popular fast food joint along that road still serves Hegenburgers.