Jan 23, 2009, 5:13 AM
Post #1 of 272
Lost Drop Zones Project
I was thinking about some some jumps I made at small DZ in Williston, FL in 1965. It was the home of the University City Sport Parachute Club and I was a student at nearby Gainesville at the time. I don't know if it has been used since for jumping but I'm sure there are countless defunct DZs around the country with great stories. A few years ago, a skier in the northeast created the New England Lost Ski Areas Project, www.nelsap.org and it has grown to be an extraordinarily popular site with contributions coming in daily. I don't have the time to create something for DZs but perhaps someone else would like to take the ball and run with it?
Do you think there would be enough interest to warrant such a site?
Williston just closed a few years ago. The University of Florida's skydiving club was based there until "politics" drove them to Palatka. They had a collegiate boogie there every year for a while (which is at Palatka now). Great little DZ.
Jan 23, 2009, 7:32 AM
Post #5 of 272
Re: [howardwhite] Lost Drop Zones Project
[In reply to]
Boy, the site on abandoned airfields brought back a lot of memories, thanks HW. My older brother soloed when he was about 14 years old and his first commercial employment was at Metro Airlines southeast of Houston, and I flew with him in and out of many of the old fields that are completely gone now. Spaceland was my home dropzone, one of many plowed under for new development.
History repeats itself. The U of F club left Williston in 1965 and headed for Kay Larkin Field in Palatka. I'm attaching a photo of myself clowning around on the wingstrut of a 172 over Palataka in 1965.
Riverview and a sod farm in Brandon were other popular Florida DZs for a while.
(This post was edited by patmoore on Jan 23, 2009, 7:55 AM)
Riverview (Tampa Bay Parachute Ranch) was the DZ of the recently departed and greatly missed Mac MacCraw. Richard ("Jonathan Livingston Seagull") Bach made some jumps there in the mid-seventies. The field was a cow pasture, complete with real cows. One great story was when the right landing gear fell off in flight when some jumpers got out on the strut; Mac landed at McDill AFB on a foamed runway.
The main hanger was moved from Plano to SD Dallas and is their main hanger. That's a cool piece of trivia I didn't know.
Trivia: And, when SDD poured the slab of concrete on the north side door entrance into the hangar; the then Chief Instructor buried a bottle of beer in the cement so the DZ "would never be out of beer."
Greater Kansas City Skydiving Club Independence, MO. Not sure when it closed but the airport is completely gone building wise. On Google Maps I see the runway is still visible off RD Mize Rd (sounded Our Demise Road). And the Meth house across the street is still there.
Jan 23, 2009, 9:18 AM
Post #13 of 272
Re: [howardwhite] Lost Drop Zones Project
[In reply to]
Got a couple of shots. My ex and I had just made our combined Gold and Diamond Wings jumps at Riverview the night before. The very next jump the following morning resulted in Mac losing his wheelstrut. Someone retrieved it from a field and I took this shot of it with my 1973 Chevy van. Richard Bach presented Connie and me with our wings and I took a photo of my daughter (now 34) on the wing of his Dehavilland Rapide. See attached shots.
Looked up Orchard Park, NY Airport on the site. In the early '60's it was the home of Frontier Skydivers as well as being an Army (National Guard) Aux Aviation field. In 1962 I made my first free-fall there JM'ed by Kenny Kotwas and Terry Slate. Had my first malfunction as the canopy never deployed from the sleeve and I had to dump the T7A reserve. Boy, did that hurt - but not as much as the alternative. Made my first tree landing under the reserve so I had a chance to practice two emergency procedures that day!
(This post was edited by ripcord4 on Jan 23, 2009, 10:06 AM)
I know a lot about the drop zone history in Alabama.
I made my first jump and S/L progression at Skydive North Alabama in Hazel Green, north of Huntsville. It closed in the mid-late 90's.
I also jumped at the Weaver (near Anniston) air strip when Alabama Skydiving Inc. was located there before they moved to Pell City.
Pell City was my home DZ for 7 years until Skyride took over, left and burned the airport for future DZs.
Skyride moved to Prattville for a year and burned the airport for future DZs as well, and moved up to TN.
Headland (north of Dothan) has had skydiving off and on for years. I may be wrong, but I believe Chris Needels did his training there. It was either there or at Tuskegee (where Buddy Blue still operates Skydive Opelika). The DZ in Headland was resurrected back in the late 90s by 3 good friends who lived close to each other, and it ran for a short time.
There was a DZ in Moundville, south of Tuscaloosa for a short time as well.
Also one west of Mobile at a private airstrip that I barely know anything about other than that my cousin did a S/L jump there 20 years ago, and most of the regulars moved to Gold Coast Skydivers near Pascagoula, MS after it shut down.
There also used to be one at the Gadsden municipal airport that closed after the city wanted them out. The DZO quit after a short fight with them. You know deeper pockets usually wins. There was another one near Tarrant, just north of Birmingham back in the 80's, maybe early 90's.
That's about all I know. I have jumped at DZs in Georgia that are no longer there - Air Ventures in Rome, Skydive Monroe and Skydive North Georgia in Ellijay. Another one I visited but didn't jump at was in Covington (now Skydive Atlanta at Thomaston).