ID : CA89
Facility Key : 01740.5*A
Facility Name : SKYLARK FIELD
Facility Type : AIRPORT
County : RIVERSIDE
City : LAKE ELSINORE (04 miles S)
State : CA
Lattitude/Longitude : 33.630022222222/-117.30170277778 (Estimated)
Elevation : 1253 ft. (Estimated)
Magnetic Variation : 14E
Current Owner : LAKE ELSINORE APT PARTNERSHIP
Current Owner address : 506 S. BROADWAY, SANTA ANA, CA 92701
Current Owner telephone : 714-834-9200
Current Manager : IVAN HENERY
Current Manager address : 20701 CEREAL ST., LAKE ELSINORE, CA 92330
Current Manager telephone : 909-245-9939
Sectional : LOS ANGELES
Control tower : None
Segmented circle : Yes
Landing fee : None
UNICOM : Elsinore
Elsinore, also commonly called Lake Elsinore DZ has one of the longest histories in US jumping history and probably more owners than any DZ. The land itself (the whole area) was once called Laguna Grande by Mexico and was purchased in 1883 for $24,000.
Cy Perkins and his brother bought a major chunk of the property in 1952 including the "Gordon Hunt Airport" which they renamed Skylark Field. When Perkins bought the property the lake was dry but by 1962 the lake had filled up and was a contant problem as the level rose and fell. Your webmasters' first visit to the airport in the very late 60's found the pea pit actually in the lake!!
The first jumps were made there in 1957 (or possibly earlier) and the first official DZ, called SKYLARK Aviation opened in 1959. They had an excellent landing area and pea pit (CLICK to enlarge photo), I remember they did an excellent job of PR and Skydiver and Parachutists magaines carried a regular diet of photos and stories from Elsinore. Much of the footage shown in "Masters of the Shy" was shot at Elsinore.
Most of the operations were out of the hanger
shown below plus there was a large covered packing area to the cameraman's
left, in front of the hanger.
Hemet, Perris Valley and Elsinore are all in the same area though Hemet was probably chosen for the same reason as Lakewood, to draw from Los Angeles and San Diego like Lakewood drew from New York City as well as Philadelphia. All three DZ's are active again though Perris Valley is probably the biggest right now with lofts, sales outlets, bunk houses and the like.
In the early 60's Elsinore was operated by Dave Burt's "Paraventures" but it reverted to Skylark Aviation again. At it's peak it operated two Howards, a Twin Beech (called The Elsinore Queen) and a Cessna 180 (called The Yellow Jacket). It was also the home of the country's only Para-scuba club. Run by Hector Nunez the club had over 200 members! We believe that Hector was a Navy diver.
Also, George Wymer, Bob Higbee and Lyle Cameron did the first ever double baton pass over Elsinore in January 1960.
PI bought Elsinore in 1976 and records show that PI intended to open a large multi-purpose sport aviantion center with flying, gliding, ballooning, skydivig, etc. This never happened though.
PI immediately moved two Norseman, 795 "Red Lead"
and 853 to the DZ. Two DC-3's soon followed, N17890 (CLICK for Photo)
and N16625. 625 remained at Elsinore till PI closed and was put on
the market from there. 795 "Red Lead" returned to Orange when the
DC-3's arrived. 853 went out of service sometime in 1980 and remained
parked and unused till sold in 1984. Both Norseman were used
to test the financial viability of the DZ.
Things went well for a while till around 1980 when a combination of factors put the DZ under stress. Aviation fuel prices in California also rose to record levels, but of course all the DZ's were effected by this. The biggest problem was when the lake, swollen by heavy rains that season, crept up and flooded the airport! The pea pit, which was near the Lake, frequently found itself under water even in the SKYLARK days but this time was worse. The Perkins and Burt operations both suffered from this including a very bad flood in 1962 after which some flood control projects were built.
In late 1979 PI either sold or leased Elsinore to Leo Orlowski. The Grand Opening under Leo was January 1980 and but by the end of January heavy rains started again and the DZ was flooded out in February. The operation moved about 10-12 miles south to Murrietta (the now abandoned Thompson field) were is was active for about 9 months before returning to Elsinore. 9 months later another flood forced a move back to Thompson field for 6-7 months after which the operation moved to Hemet. Leo was unable to make a go of the operation and the DZ and equipment reverted back to PI. The PI Norseman are not recalled by jumpers during this time but apparently at least one PI DC-3 was used in the Orlowski period. Leo also used the old HOWARD (N0418).
Elsinore also started to loose student business
to Perris when Perris converted to student pig systems while PI Elsinore
stuck with conventional gear and the TELSAN training method. Perris
also countered PI's use of the DC-3, which was drawing many of the more
experienced jumpers. In the early 80's they had as many as three
DC-3's (N8040L, N157U and N817). The Elsinore DC-3's are pictured
below while the PI DC-3's are on the aircraft/DC-3 page. Mouse over
the images below to enlarge.
While most DZ's make their money from students, having experienced jumpers around is a great drawing card for students especially when the big stars and large aircraft became common. In the early 80's Perris and Elsinore were neck and neck in the race for the best jumpers and having to biggest most comfortable aircraft was part of the competition.
July 1959, used state of the art skydiving gear that
included football helmets and a left hand, outward bent
Anyone that wishes to contribute more info is encouraged to do so.
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