In the dawn of skydiving there were two great Skydivers' Pubs.  In the west was the Rumble Seat (Los Angeles and the child of Elsinore jumpers) but by far the most famous was "The INN at Orange".

It has long been said that Eastern Skydivers were better educated and were more affluent than Western Skydivers and the INN is an example of that.

Owned by PI President Jacques and wife, Claudia Istel, the Inn was in a wooded area and had it's own kidney shaped DZ and a small pea pit.  It was also know for a great meal with a ringside seat for the INN JUMPS.

The jumpers landed in the slightly sloping lawn of the INN and being allowed an "INN Jump" was a great honor.  To be allowed an "INN Jump" was an acknowledgment that your accuracy skills were up to snuff.  Many jumps were made to compete for a free steak dinner.

The Inn, which was not far from the airport on Walnut Hill Road, (see map at bottom of page) had an elegant dining room (e.g., tablecloths, silverware, water glasses, fine food, where correct social behavior was expected), an adjoining bar where jumpers were freer to be themselves and a small number of rental sleeping accommodations on the second floor. 

Male jumpers could stay at the INN for $3 a night while couples and ladies usually stayed at the Quabbin Gateway Motel down the road for between $8 and $10.

Beer in the pub was 25 cents and there was usually a live band which at times was drowned out by singing of everything from 50's classics to "Blood on the Risers".  A special jumpers' drink at the INN was invented by Dough "The Fink" Angel, and was called the "Cut-a-way".  Half a Cut-a-away was called a "Partial Malfunction" and of course it was a great honor to become a "Cut-a-way Cardinal". If you don't know what a "Cardinal" is, you must put your gear away and you are not allowed to jump again till you find out.

The Inn is still standing at Orange, pretty much the way it was, but it is now a personal residence.  On the North end of the landing field, two homes have been built, and a man-made pond has been dug about 50 yards north of where the peas used to be.

Comments by "INN Veterans"

The Inn at Orange jump was not for the fainthearted, Para-Commanders, coming
over the top of the hill/mountain, a low pull and the people watching you thought you  went it because of the angle. Without question one of my more memorable jumps, very small landing area and a cold beer for a sucessful jump.  At the end of the day most jumpers opted to watch. Again not a jump for the fainthearted. I made 5 into the Inn and still have the "PATCH" on my gear bag.
Bob Pope Dallas, Tx  D-2162

My first INN jump was my 107th jump on July 13, 1963, signed off by Lewis B. Sanborn, D-1. My jump was made at 8:05 PM, using  a 28-foot "Elliptical 7-TU" modified "cheapo" canopy (plus a B-4 main container and a 24-foot "belly wart" reserve). The jump was a 20-second delay from 5,200 feet, wind was 2-6 mph, and my distance from target center was 18 feet (short). The logbook "Remarks" column reads: "Single pass; opened right on spot." 

I made a total of 30 "cheapo" INN jumps, followed by 21 PC (ParaCommander) jumps, for a total of 51 INN jumps.

The last one  was mass jump from a Twin Beech jump plane. With the exception of a Cessna 172 jump, all other jumps were from OSPC's Norseman aircraft.  I twice came in second trying to win the steak dinner, and except for twice landing in trees, always made the minuscule landing area in winds as high as 12-15 mph, with distances ranging from a few inches to 80 feet. 

I have to agree with Bob Pope's judgment: "The jumpers landed in the slightly sloping lawn of the INN and being allowed an "INN Jump" was a great honor. To be allowed an "INN Jump" was an acknowledgment that your accuracy skills were up to snuff." 

The photos on this page give the impression of spaciousness for the DZ, but that definitely was not the case, especially sitting in the saddle of a modified "cheapo" orange-and-white military surplus canopy at 2,500  feet when opening at the far side of Lake Mattawa to the west, beyond a broad lake that had to be crossed first, followed by a BIG hill covered with a dense forest of tall trees, some as high as 60 feet and those big trees on the down slope of the hill went right to the unpaved road at the edge of the INN drop zone.

On days when the customary west winds shifted to other quadrants a skydiver still had to cross dense wooded areas to get into the small, generally rectangular DZ. The trees in other areas surrounding the open field seldom were higher than 30 t0 40 feet.

Not far from the small pea gravel target pit there was a BIG boulder that had to be avoided when, depending on wind direction, making a final approach to the peas. As an incentive for accuracy landing, INN management would give the closest distance winner a steak dinner in the dining room.

Blue skies!
Jim Bates ( 

Close window to return to main page
Close Window