August 13th in Seal Beach History

 On this date in 1916, thirty-two year old aviator stuntman Joe Boquel began his first exhibition engagement above Seal Beach.

Joe_BoquelBoquel  had only been flying for four years, having taken lessons from another well-known stunt pilot of the era, Silas Christofferson. In 1915, Boquel had flown at the San Francisco Panama Pacific Expo, and the publicity brought him into the public eye. He became famous for his multiple mid-air loops, death-defying corkscrews, and nighttime acrobatics (and skywriting!) with lit fireworks attached to the wings of his airplane. His exhibitions were unpredictable and thrilling. 

This period of Seal Beach history is dominated by hyperbole and exaggeration, and it’s always a good  policy to view the claims about city events and plans with a skeptical eye.  However, there’s a subtle difference to the publicity and stories about Boquel. He really did attract large crowds to Seal Beach, and his shows actually delivered the excitement promised in the ads.

On his first August 13 flight at 5:00 pm, Boquel performed eight loops from a height of 5,000 feet. Four hours later, he took to the air again and was lost in a fog bank that had gathered over the city, creating much anxiety in the onlookers which the Los Angeles Times estimated numbered in the thousands. Suddenly Boquel’s plane appeared at the northern limits of the city and made a spectacular series of loops and curves while illuminated against the dark sky. His entire flight took sixteen minutes, but it was enough to make him a true sensation in Seal Beach.

Less than three months later, Joe Boquel would be dead.


Los Angeles Times – August 13, 1916

– Michael Dobkins

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6 Responses to August 13th in Seal Beach History

  1. Carla watson says:

    What an amazing event during Workd War 1.


  2. Gaye Roth says:

    What can you tell me about the Pelochino House?


    • Michael Dobkins says:

      Nothing, I have no idea what the Pelochino House is.

      Do you have an address? Does it have something to do with Joe Boquel? I need a little more information than you’re giving.


    • Michael Dobkins says:

      Gaye, I received your e-mail clarifying the address:


      What can you tell us about the old house at 117 Ocean Ave (109-117 Ocean)? We read the Pelochino family has owned it since 1971. We have driven by often and would love to know more about it’s history. I must be one of the oldest buildings in town.

      The house was built in 1905 during Seal Beach’s very early “Bay City” days and is even featured in some Bay City ads. It was owned by I.A. Lothian (I don’t have the names for the initials handy), a business partner of Phil Stanton’s in the Bayside Land Co. and one of Seal Beach’s founding fathers. I was aware of the Pellichino family ownership, but I’ve always known the place as the Lothian House.

      Sadly, I’m hearing rumors that the Lothian house is to be torn down soon.


  3. Pingback: September 17th in Seal Beach History | This Date in Seal Beach History

  4. Pingback: November 4th in Seal Beach History | This Date in Seal Beach History

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