Didier Masson (1886-1950) 1910 Curtiss-Willard Banshee Express, renamed "Pegasus" in 1911
It had been slightly more than seven years since the Wright Brothers flew the world's first powered flight at Kitty Hawk when a daring young barnstorming pilot attempted the first commercial flight in the country by flying from Los Angeles to San Bernardino with his unique cargo.
Didier Masson, a French pilot, took off from Los Angeles at 7:05 AM on January 7, 1911, with several bundles of the Los Angeles Times strapped to the wings of his biplane. The plane, renamed "Pegasus", was the 1910 Curtiss-Willard Banshee and was powered by an eight cylinder, 50 horsepower Hall-Scott engine.
Masson was to stop in Pomona on his way to San Bernardino. However, the pilot got lost and running low on fuel landed in a field near Cucamonga. Masson got a ride to Pomona where he picked up his ground crew and returned to his biplane. After refueling and repairing the landing gear, Masson took off and headed east. He landed at 12:40 PM at Association Park, located off Mill Street between Waterman and Tippiecanoe.
After lunch at the Elks Club, Masson planned to put on a brief aerobatics show at San Bernardino and then fly back to Pomona for a second performance. Unfortunately, he crashed on takeoff. Masson was uninjured, but his airplane was damaged and the pilot never returned to Pomona.
Masson may have arrived several hours later than expected, but he achieved an aeronautical first when he landed in San Bernardino with his cargo of newspapers. Masson went on to fly as a mercenary in the Mexican Revolution and then in the Lafayette Escadrille during World War I.