ID : N12
Facility Key : 13890.*A
Facility Name : LAKEWOOD
Facility Type : AIRPORT/PARACHUTE CENTER
County : OCEAN
City : LAKEWOOD (03 miles SE)
State : NJ
Lattitude/Longitude : 40.066780555556/-74.177641666667 (Estimated)
Elevation : 32ft
Magnetic Variation : 12W
Current Owner : TOWNSHIP OF LAKEWOOD
Current Owner address : MUNICIPAL BUILDING, LAKEWOOD, NJ 08701
Current Owner telephone : 732-364-2500
Current Manager : DAVE OBRIEN
Current Manager address : 1900 CEDAR BRIDGE ROAD, LAKEWOOD, NJ 08701
Current Manager telephone : 732-364-0800
Sectional : NEW YORK
Control tower : None
Lights : DUSK-DAWN
Segmented circle : NO
Beacon : CG
Landing fee : None
UNICOM : PI maintained it's own while the airport FBO had a second. Current is 122.800
The Lakewood Sport Parachuting Center was opened in June 1963. The original Lakewood Airport was built just after WW2 and had a gravel strip with a small FBO and a Civil Air Patrol Sqd. stationed there. The runway does not appear to have exceeded 2000'.
The whole area is in the pine barrens of Central New Jersey and the trees averaged about 8-10' tall though many were 15-20'. These scub pines extend southward all the way thru the Carolinas. The adjacent road, Cedar Bridge Ave., was a popular drag strip for teenagers because it was isolated and quite straight. It was the scene of many accidents and more deaths and serious injuries than at the drop zone. Occassionally, some fools used the runway at night to drag and in 1959 two cars couldn't stop in time on the gravel and ended up in the water.
Lakewood is a resort town in east central New Jersey and one of the few that didn't depend on the ocean as a tourist attraction. Instead it has several lakes for recreation. Lakewood Airport was in the South East corner of the city, in a heavy wooded area by the junction of NJ Rt 70 and the Garden State Parkway. It had a hanger, an office shack and a gravel runway. The whole area was a mixture of gray or orange sand and glassy beads, mostly created from the heat of the great fires that devastated central New Jersey in the 1930's.
In 1962, with the success of the World Meet and the closing of Hemet DZ, Istel and Sanborn moved on with their expansion plans for a DZ located between New York City and Philadelphia. Lee Guilfoyle was sent to find a suitable location in early winter 62-63 and PI decided on Lakewood airport. Jacques Istel negotiated with Ed Freit, who owned the property, and then went to the town committee to get a resolution stating that parachuting was a conforming use of the Lakewood Airport and it's license. In late January 1963 Lee and Condon McDonough began the work of building the new Lakewood Sport Parachuting Center.
In February 1963 Lee and Connie went to Fort Dix and looked at hospital ward buildings that were being sold off. They found the perfect building for their purposes and purchased it for $1000. They found a man who would cut the building into three pieces at a cost of $100 per cut. The building was 126 feet by 26 feet and they ended up with two buildings that were 50 feet by 26 feet and one building that was 26 feet by 26 feet. After that they found a building mover that moved the three buildings to the Lakewood Airport for $1800. This cost included the foundations which were two cement blocks high on poured cement footings. When the three buildings
In late March 1963 the first Norseman arrived at Lakewood with Nate Pond at the controls. He used the old gravel runway since the new 2500' runway hadn't been built yet. (CLICK ON PHOTO FOR MORE STORY). It was the second heaviest plane to ever land there, #1 being a resident twin Beech with a "Ryan Conversion" (tri-cycle landing gear)
Work continued and bulldozers were used to cut a 600 yard diameter circle out of the pine forest that surrounded Lakewood Airport and a new 2500' paved runway and partial taxi way were built. The old runway was used as a flight line and a parking lot. It was paved in front of the PI Center to the runway but no where else. The FBO was still packed gravel.
|The Lakewood SPC was placed where
it was for 2 main reasons. It was a remote area with super soft landing
sand but most importantly it was an almost equal distance between Philadelphia
and New York City. The hand-outs had local numbers in both cities.
It was actually closer to the Camden/Philie area but the roads (The Jersey
Turnpike and the New Jersey Parkway) were better from the north direction.
The Parkway was just a quarter of a mile from the DZ though the exits (90
and 88) were farther. Exit 88 was free but a little farther from
the DZ while exit 90 was 25. Gasoline was only 14 a gallon then though
so I guess you saved a few pennies taking the cheaper exit. (Click
here for map of the area then and now)
The first jumps occured on June 12th 1963 with an all experienced load. The winds were up that day but noon they died to 15-18mph. N1207 took off from the new runway and headed to 2500 feet with Walter Lee Penn (1380759) at the controls. The 5 PI instructors each made a 5 second delay on a separate pass. Lee Guilfoyle D-50 made the first ever jump on the new DZ, followed by Connie McDonough C-736, Peter Guilfoyle B-822, Don West C-22 (Australian) and finally Dan Quinn C-1575.
The great advantage to this center was that it was purpose built from the first shovel in the ground. AND it was built around the Telsan method of training.
3 building sections of the original hospital ward soon took shape for their
new roles. Left to right on the blue print was a new rest room building,
an office, sales and lounge building, a utility building with lockers,
class room, storage and clothing issue rooms and finally a large loft with
sewing machines and 4 tables. The loft building was delivered open
at both ends. The rear had a garage door installed opening out to
a loading platform where gear was unloaded from the DZ truck.was a garage
door opening out on to a loading dock where the DZ truck backed up to.
The front end of the loft was closed with a most unique arrangement (in
the photo above on the right). On the inside was a common looking
set of cubby holes for the mains and reserves but the instructors/jumpmasters
didn't have to go inside to get the gear. Each vertical column of
cubby holes had its own door and the front of the building had a small
stage. (Students frequently annoyed staff by sitting on the stage.)
The gear could be accessed from the outside and handed down to the jumpers.
In the back of the class room was an outdoor training area. It had two Norseman mock ups for exit training, a suspended harness and a platform for PLF training. The training areas had an 8 foot high wood fence around it. The fence had a couple of different purposes. It ensured privacy for the students and kept friends and relatives from distracting them. It also assured that no one could watch the training and go out and try jumping on their own. I'm also sure there was a psychology angle. Many great and wonderful things were going on behind those fences and not for the eyes of the great unwashed! The curious had to shell out the $35 to take the FJC and find out what was happening.
the front area between the classrooms and the loft was an elevated manifest
stage. You walked up and had the attendant put you on a load if you
were experienced or your jumpmaster did it after a class. (this is the
best photo I have it it right now, sorry, have to wait till my stuff finally
arrives from the USA)
The Telsan method had you take a $2 half hour training course for each student jump. A "load" was organized in the office when you bought your tickets or showed that you had some and your name was announced over the loudspeaker to meet in the training area. If you were on say, a five second delay, you trained to make that jump and then the whole class went through it in the order of their real exits. It was very very true to what was about to happen.
As soon as you made your "jump" the JM moved the next student into the mock door and you walked over to the PLF platform went to practice your PLF's again.
When the class was done, your instructor took his training record to the manifest board and you were put on a load. No JM ever had more than 9 students at one time and if there were he was jumper #10 in the plane. The JM usually left the Norseman with the last student, either jumping with him on a long delay or after writing down his comments about the jump on a clip board and then stuffing the paper in his jump suit.
Across from the manifest "tower" and up against the fence were several equipment tables. IF you had your own gear, you used it to put your stuff on to get rigged up and if you were a student (except a first jump student) you were issued gear from the loft stage and carried it to the tables. For first jump students the JM usually had your gear ready at the tables or on a busy day they carried them from the loft equipment issue stage.
Staff usually helped students on with their gear (the photo way below shows the site creater getting a back strap readjusted from a previous jumper, by a JM in yellow) and when you were fully geared up and ready, the manifest was read out load and you stood on this long wooden platform set in the pea gravel. The low stand, which was just an inch about the pea gravel, was segmented into 10 blocks with numbered blocks painted on. You stood on the squares in the exit order and there would be two staff, one in front and the other in back, going down the line doing pin and safety checks. The front guys checked your reserves, capewells, main lift web, snaps accessible from the front, dummy or real ripcords and finally took your tickets which were placed under the reserve bungies. The rear "guard" did your main pin check, checked the housing and ring for obstructions and adjusted your back strap if needed. Once done, you walked in order to the waiting aircraft or to a row of bench's outside the fence if the Norseman wasn't ready or there. Again you sat in order of exit.
jumpers area was inside the 3-rail fence made from the pine trees cut down
for the DZ (except for the rear training area which had an 8' solid fence).
It was 100% pea gravel (no mud in the winter snow or summer rains) while
the training area was the exact same sand as the DZ. Non-jumpers
could not enter the main area and a sign on the fence said so. This
was for equipment security but also to give the students the impression
that they were someone special.
Nor could the lookie-loos go to the DZ alone. For safety and profit, drop zone tours were conducted for 25¢! A path in the trees (6) was for "Wuffs Tour" and a small bleacher (8) was erected at the edge of the trees. The tour guide, was usually a high school student working for PI for the summer. He would give everyone handouts, then the the tour with a speech about basic information on the sport and what was happening as it happened and finally answering any questions. All had made at least one jump and most worked there to get free jumps plus a about a dollar an hour pay). Usually around 8:30pm the manager let any unoccupied employees get a free jump in if there was any empty spots on the last load. Many of us laughed and joked that it looked like a squadron scramble!
Last on the photo is (7) which is the road used by the gear truck and the jumpers walking back.
Besides the segregated areas, the Center also used a uniformed pecking order of dress. Instructors and jumpmasters wore yellow pants and official PI yellow jumpsuits. Students wore white and others like riggers (mostly US Navy riggers from Nearby Lakehurst Naval Air Station) and the kids who did the DZ tours wore pink pants. All wore white PI tea shirts when weather permitted. The photo here shows Condon (Connie) McDonough in the yellow PI jump with Thom Lyons, one of the "boy skydivers" in his own flight suit. In the rear is a student in the standard white. The second photo shows a student in the plane with a 28' reserve and PI student jump suit. The orange thing on the reserve was a flotation device which was required by law because of two lakes and a stream nearby. Connie looks rather formal compared to today's' jumpmasters but it wasn't unusual for JM's and instructors in the 1950's to wear ties! Notice the deep impressions left by the jumper (behind him in the right photo below) in the soft sand on landing.
When you landed, one of the "Pinks" would help you off with your gear and put it in the truck. This was as much a matter of protecting the gear as providing a service. You carried your reserve to the truck or back to the airport. Most of us thought it was cool to be seen walking on the service road through the trees talking with the "big kids", the reserve in hand.
Students were allowed their own suits and boots from the second jump on and their own helmets after their first freefall. All gear was provided on the first jump but after that daily rental fees for cushioned boots, helmets and jumpsuits applied at $1 a day each.
The clothing and helmets (with or
without radios) were issued through a window. You climbed a short
set of stairs to get to the window in the Utility/class room building.
You gave the teenager in the window a $1 clothing ticket or a special ticket
from the first jump course
The radio helmits had been introduced to PI during the 1962 Governor's Cup meet at Orange. Frank Heaco of BELL TOPTEX corporation arrived at the meet with the new helmits to try and interest PI. PI bought a couple of dozen at $40 each and became the first customer. The normal Bell Helmit was $24.95.
A minimum of accuracy training was given on the ground and you got the bulk of your training in the air. The radio itself was contained in a funny looking strip on top of the helmet (see photo). On jump run you were signaled to sit on the floor and then to sit in the door normally. In the final seconds you assumed the exit position and the jumpmaster spotted the aircraft. He cut the engine, turned on your radio and hit your shoulder for the go! The radio made a funny hissing sound when there wasn't voice content.
Since for the first jump you got cushioned boots, helmet and jumpsuit for the day so it paid you to make more than one jump that first day. On the next jumps until you were off student status you paid $2 a jump for a half an hour of instruction and the jumpmaster, $1 a jump for the reserve and $5 a jump for the main. Lift tickets to 3000' were $3. It may not seem like much today but $1 each for a jumpsuit, helmet and boots per day was no small amount in 1963. If you could come up with an old USAF flight suit or coveralls and acceptable boots you saved almost the price of a lift.
Each type of rental or other ticket
was different. The yell ticket was for rentals and the more traditional
style was for training, rental and lift tickets. The gray ticket
below was for a $3 lift and others to higher altitudes were a different
color but you could combine them.
Classes were in the morning and afternoon, usually one each but both classrooms were full at times. The FJC was $35 when the center opened.
In it's first year the DZ also drew the big names of the day from the East! The manager was Lee Guilfoyle (C-8 & D-50, who also invented the Static Line Assist System) and his younger brother Pete (C-172) also worked and jumped there. Others like Jim Erender (the 1962 World Overall Champion), Nate Pond, Lew Sanborn, Condon (Connie) MacDonovan, Bob Spatola, Art Markhoff (D-102) and Nick Paitanita (D-778) worked or jumped there in the early days. Nick died in 1965 attempting to break the worlds' high altitude free fall record of 93,000 feet then held by the Russians. Riding a balloon, his first attempt failed when his O2 system was frozen to the gondola and he couldn't get out. On his second attempt his suit failed at 50,000 feet and died in the hospital 3 days later. Over the years it was jumped by the best, National and World Champs included.
The Center even drew overseas jumpers like Claude Gillard (current President of the Australian Parachute Federation and the FAI) and fellow Australian champion Don West who stayed after the World Meet and worked at Orange and Lakewood.
Lakewood was also the preferred testing station for Pioneer. The Center was in "the sticks" and new gear could be tested without accidental notice by competitors' eyes. The Paracommander, the Barish Sailwing, the Rogola Wing, Pioneer Parawing, and the Voleplane were all secretly and openly tested there and even Dr. Jalbert tested his FOIL at Lakewood. The Para-foil was such a good canopy that it is still in production today in both the original 7-cell and newer 9-cell forms.
In 1966, Lee Guilfoye, made his 1313jump at 1330 hours on Friday the 13th and did a 13 second delay falling 1300 feet.
Thought Lakewood was considered the most modern and sharpest looking DZ in the world it had the same problem as Orange and many other Eastern DZ's... tricky winds. Where mid-west and western DZ's might throw 1-3 streamers in a day, several a day were required at PI due to changing winds especially in the winter and spring. In late 1964 Lee Guilfoyle was at Lakehurst Naval Air Station and noticed an old Theadolite being used as a door stop. Not too long after that it showed up at the DZ and Lee learned how to use it. Using military surplus weather balloons and tanks of helium they worked out a system of determining the spot with the balloons being released and timed while tracking it thru the Theadolite. When the timer called it the exact angle of the balloon was noted on a grid on the device which gave the coordinates on an aerial photo of the airport and surrounding areas. The Photo was covered with clear plastic and that had the grid and the opening point was marked 3 times a day with a grease pencil. The system worked so well they found a Theadolite for Orange and started to use it there! (Click to enlarge photo)
Still in all, it was a great DZ with really nice people, no politics that every got to the jumpers and it had a unique way of catering to students without chasing experienced jumpers away. It was typical of eastern DZ's (in that day) and it drew a type of more serious jumper, more interested in style, accuracy, competition and the occassional baton pass rather than California style "fun jumping". PI tended to draw students and experienced jumpers with a much higher educational level than DZ's in the west, and these types tended to be less of a hell raiser than the typical California jumper. A good example of this is in "jumpers' bars". In the East was the cultured "INN at ORANGE" while in LA you had the RUMBLE SEAT. The Rumble Seat had an ad in every jumpers' mag every month. There were definately two jumping cultures, each with its' own brand loyality for gear (west was Security, east was Pioneer) in the 60's. This was also because PI was also Pioneer's distributor. Many western jumpers complained that they would get a cold reception at Eastern DZ's and were required to do a checkout jump unless you had a C or D license.
The DZ also allowed some changes
to the general running of PI. All the Norseman's were serviced at
Monmouth County Airport, just north of Lakewood DZ on Highway 34 (not to
be confused with the Monmouth County Airport in Westchester New York) and
to this day you can see the Lakewood DZ circle when taking off from Monmouth
Co.. The airport is now called Allaire Airport and is also known
as the Allaire/Belmar Airport. The company that did the work was
"Monmouth County Aviation" which was owned by the Boyd family. Until
PI hired its own Orange mechanic (Mel Acuff) all the PI planes were flown
down to MCA for checks and maintainence. This was fortuitous for
PI because later Lenny Boyd closed up and moved to nearby Robert J. Miller
Air Park (5 miles from Tom's River) rather than pay what they felt was
Monmouth County is one of the oldest airports in new Jersey and the first in Wall Township. It was originally called Brown's Airport. Oddly one of its first tennants was the Air Lanes Roller Rink! Photo above is from the early 40's. Another odd thing about the airport is the Monmouth County Airport Fly-In also known as the Shore Drive-In, right next to the airport. People were able to fly in and have a trolley bring them over to the drive-in! The trolley tracks are still there, as are the ticket booth and the snack bar, but the lot is clear. The airport also had a bowling alley, the Air Lanes Bowling Alley which burned to the ground in March 1965. The fire closed the sirport for over 6 hours.
The airport is owned by Ed Brown who bought hundreds of acres of farm land in the 1930's from a NJ millionairess for a pittance, and started an airport. He is currently in his 80's and still owns the airport. Ed taught himself to fly and still flies a 172 without any radios. Allaire is the largest privately owned field in the US. Brown has been negotiating for years with the Wall Township to sell the airport. The airport is now the site of one of the 4 remaining drop zones in New Jersey, Skydive Jersey Shore at http://www.skydivejerseyshore.com/.
Monmouth County also had a large
Army Air Unit based there, the 138th
RRC (138th Aviation Company) which had everything from Carabous to
L-19's. The 138th did time in Viet Nam at Phu Bai flying in Loas,
Cambodia and Viet Nam. Attached to it was the American Electronics
Lab Hangar/Ft Monmouth which was part of the Fort Monmouth Electronics
Command/Cheyenne Aviation Electronics Systems. The Base was commaned
by Colonel Jimmie King who was a major figure in black history and the
US Army. Col. King retired in September 1981. The Unit was
later moved to Lakehurt Naval Air Station near Lakewood DZ. The 138th
was disbanded at Orlando, Florida on 10 April 1999.
Project PI is an online collaborative effort to document the first commercial parachute company, Parachutes Incorporated, its 5 DZ's, it's 15 aircraft and as many of the personalities that worked or jumped there that we can find. Anyone may contribute with stories, information and photographs and are encouraged to do so. Click on the logo above to send e-mail to Thom Lyons, Project coordinator in Melbourne, Australia
In 1965, a Cessna 180, N2936C, in PI blue livery was perminently added to to the Lakewood fleet and the Orange based blue and white Twin Beech, N90264, made an occassional visit in the late 70's early 80's. Most of the Norseman visited Lakewood at one time or another when they filled in for the two resident birds during 100 hour checks and the like.