Remembering Those Gone West

We celebrate the lives of our past members and friends who have dedicated a good portion of their lives to the Experimental Aircraft Association and Chapter 839 for the advancement of aviation. These members have provided knowledge, expertise and, most importantly, friendship for those of us who are here today. They will always remain in our thoughts and hearts and will never be forgotten. This Memorial Plaque is dedicated in their memory.

We are all much the better for having known them.

This plaque is located on the exterior wall on the north side of the chapter hangar.

David Morse, 1932 - 2022, EAA# 30557

In 1942, Dave, at the age of 9.75, got a job for Russell Brown at a private airport in Pittstown, NJ which later became Sky Manor when it was sold in 1952-53. There Dave worked feeding Guinea Hens and Bantam Chickens twice a day seven days a week for $2.75. For leisure, Dave rode a ¾ horse that Russell Brown had purchased for his wife.

Russell taught Dave how to run a Tri-Cycle Tractor that was made from a 1928 Reo car. The tractor had two transmissions, one from the Reo and the other from a truck. Dave mowed the airfield with this three gang mower.

At this time no one could fly airplanes because the government took most of the aircraft for the war effort. The few that were left behind couldn’t get fuel. However, Dave kept the field mowed because it was an auxiliary field for the US Navy. The Navy pilots flew out of Lakehurst, NJ.

Bill Fritche, at Alexandria airport, who was a civilian pilot trainer, had a Culver Cadet aircraft. Fritche and Brown got together and asked if Dave would like to go for a ride. Naturally Dave said yes and he contributes this as being the start of his aviation career.

Well, on a more exciting note, Dave and his older brother decided they were going to kill the five rats that were living in the neighbor’s barn. They used a Ground Hog bomb, figuring that if it could kill a Ground Hog it could certainly kill a Rat. They lit the bomb and threw it down the Rat hole and ran from the barn. Unfortunately, the bomb ignited a fire. The barn, full of oats and grain, along with a few wagon houses that were close by, burned to the ground. Dave said that the owner was not mad and took the situation in stride. Later, Dave’s brother would work for this same farmer.

In 1944 Dave and family moved to Clinton, NJ. At this time Dave bought a Bicycle for $3.00, which he rode from Clinton to Alexandria Airport. There, Dave and some friends could get rides for $2.00. To earn money for the rides, Dave worked for Charles’ Bootery for 40 cents per hour. He was twelve years old.
Dave lost this job due to “some liberal” who turned his boss in to the authorities because Dave was under age at the time, “damn democrats!” Dave needed to work so he began removing mustard plants from oat fields. This was an extreme cut in pay. Dave went back to work at the Bootery when he turned fourteen years old. In 1930 Dave’s father was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease and couldn’t work. Dave’s grandfather helped by contributing $10 per week to make ends meet.

At age fifteen Dave left the Bootery and started working at Attaway’s Dept. Store. There he made 45 cents per hour, approximately $8.50 per week, of which he contributed five dollars to help support the family.

Dave and his friends went to Alexandria Airport and rented a “Bamboo Bomber” for five dollars per flight. The three of them climbed in and took off.

Dave graduated high school in 1950 and joined the Army on June 16, 1950. He took infantry basic training where he was a squad leader. He graduated basic on Sept. 26, 1950. Six days previous, McArthur broke the back of the North Korean’s by landing at Inchon, cutting off their supply route. Dave did not move on to advanced infantry training, instead he volunteered to run a fourteen man painting crew to paint the company buildings at Fort Dix, N.J. Also, due to the fact that most of the cadre had to go to Korea for the war-effort, Dave became a bazooka demo team leader. From there Dave volunteered for airborne and was stationed at Fort Campbell, in Kentucky. There he waited until sent to jump school in Ft. Benning, Georgia, in May of 1951.

From there Dave went to Camp McCoy, Wisconsin to help train the Ohio Nation Guard in advanced infantry tactics. Dave returned to become a jeep driver, “which pissed me off.” Dave got on the wrong side of a Captain when he drove over thirty miles per hour. The Captain said, “I want to die in combat and not from a roll-over in a jeep.” The day after, Dave had to be checked-out in the jeep by the Motor Pool Sergeant to possibly become the Company Commander’s Driver. Dave drove through a stop sign, which ended his Army driving career. He was a PFC at the time.

After his stint with jeep driving, he went to the Pathfinders School in Fort Benning, Georgia. Their job was to train air crews and paratroopers on when to jump by signaling aircraft. Once the paratroopers were on the ground, the Pathfinders would set-up an antenna for the paratroopers to hone-in on and gather in one place.

Dave then transferred to “I Company” and spent the remaining three months there training recruits.

In 1953, at age 20, Dave trained in retail sales, using the GI Bill. He managed and worked in the Firestone Dealership for six years, from 1954 to 1960. Dave met his wife, Barbara, in the Firestone Store which was like a General Store. He married Barbara on Nov. 13, 1955.

Dave bought a one-tenth share on a J4 Cub for $250. The $250 was a gift from the State of New Jersey for vets of that state who served during the Korean War. He was a partner in the J4 until 1958 at which time it was sold. He asked that his share of the J4 be kept for lessons to become a private pilot. Dave received his license in 1958 and flew until 1960. He had accumulated 60 hours. He didn’t fly again until 1979 when he bought an Aeronca Chief for $3,500. It was a rebuilt with 400 hours on the engine. Dave flew the Chief until approximately 1997.

Dave started in Chapter 839 in 1995. The Chief had to be rebuilt with the help of Art Schwedler who did the welding. It was rebuilt and flyable in 2000. He flew it until 2007. At that time it was sold.

Dave became president of EAA’s Chapter839 in 1998-99. He was president for two years. In that period the Chapter hangar was built. Dave was the acting general foreman. The hangar took approximately two years to build.

Dave had retired from his job in 1990 at which time he worked for his older brother for 13 years. For the first two years, he delivered equipment. For the remainder, he worked part-time putting up tents and delivering outside furniture for parties.

Dave has been the news letter editor since 1995, with the exception of a two year period that saw Tim Vallelli take on that responsibility.

The Chapter has a dedication plaque at the entrance of the hangar which reads:

EAA Chapter 839
Dedicates this hangar to
J.J. Banks and Dave Morse
In appreciation of contributions of energy,
Time, ideas, technical expertise, leadership,
Teaching, friendship and love of aviation”.

Bernard Sinisgalli, 1938 - 2021, EAA# 762815

Bernie, as he was affectionally known, was a member of Chapter 839 for many years. He was very interested in small airplanes and love to go for rides in them. Having owned a car paint shop for many years, he enjoyed helping to build or repairing any aircraft project the Chapter currently was working on. He often helped out at picnics and dinners for the members. Always a gentleman he was friendly to all.

Arthur Schwedler, 1927 - 2021, EAA# 1447

Captain Arthur “Art” Schwedler, of Stroud Township, Monroe County bon vivant mechanic and pilot extraordinaire.

Art was born on Feb. 16, 1927, in Rochester, Wisconsin, the son of Arthur and Gladys Schwedler. His lifelong love of flying and airplanes was kindled at age 16 when he had his first airplane ride with Paul Poberezny, the founder of the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA). Thereafter, he attended Northrup Aeronautical School, signed on as a mechanic for United Airlines, and subsequently began flying as a flight engineer for TWA in 1954. While at TWA he was upgraded to Co-Pilot and promoted to Captain. For many years he flew as the captain of various Boeing aircraft including the L-1011 to destinations all over Europe, Asia and the United States.

Art was a member of the Monroe County Housing Authority board and Stroud Township Sewer Authority; a member and past president of the local EAA 839 at Pegasus Airport in Saylorsburg; and a Freemason. As a lifetime member of EAA, he consistently attended and was instrumental in EAA’s annual Airventure shows at Oshkosh, Wisconsin, where he helped create and was the co-chairman of the EAA Government Host Team as well as the primary host and conduit to NASA. In 1986, he flew to Moscow on behalf of the State Department to promote an aviation partnership with the Soviet Union.

His airline experience and mechanic credentials qualified Art to repair and build small aircraft, which he did, and to conduct annual inspections and certifications of private aircraft. Often, he was called upon by others for advice regarding the construction of small airplanes. He was also adept at handling, repairing and building all manner of guns and was a dedicated lifetime member of the NRA. In sum, there wasn’t anything Art couldn’t build or repair.

Accordingly, he was the chief mechanic and an instrumental member of the crew of the Riff Raft, which successfully competed in the annual Great Delaware River Raft races until that event was discontinued.

John Vogler, 1932 - 2020, EAA# 682073

John was born in Wartenfels, Germany and he was the son of the late George and Margareta (Pfister) Vogler. John was a member of Chapter 839 and through the years served in many positions supporting it. He helped build the hangar that the Chapter calls home.

John was known for his fine woodworking skills and use them to construct a Pietenpol Air Camper. The Pietenpol is a simple parasol wing homebuilt aircraft designed by Bernard H. Pietenpol. The first prototype that became the Air Camper was built and flown by Pietenpol in 1928. John built the airplane from a set of plans. He painted it in dark green with house paint. The interior of the cockpit reflect John's precise and elegant woodworking skills.

John Parker, Jr., 1954 - 2019, EAA# 395645

John loved flying and was a long time, well regarded member of Chapter 839. He earned his pilot's license at the age of 17 and logged several thousand hours of airtime throughout his life. Anyone who met John soon learned he loved anything with a motor and he had the curiosity and ability to build or fix anything.

John was a well-known businessman  throughout the Monroe County area. Upon graduation from Bucknell University in 1976 he moved home to work in and later serve as President of the family business, Parker Oil Company, until its sales in 2013.

John James Banks (JJ), 1923 - 2013, EAA # 200020

JJ was one of the Charter members of Chapter 839 in Stroudsburg, PA. He had been a member in good standing since the Chapter was formed in 1984. JJ was president of the Chapter for two years, Chapter vice president for two years, flight advisor for ten years, recruiter (he recruited over 20 new members), and technical advisor for over ten years.

He was the lead man on the Chapter’s Zenith 701 project. The project was completed and can be viewed on our Chapter website ( His overall commitment to the EAA was unsurpassed. He was the chapter “go to guy” on all aviation topics, but it didn’t stop there. His vast knowledge on many other subjects made J.J. Banks an inspiration to all who knew him. He was a modest soft spoken person and at times very humorous. When you needed an answer, you went to JJ. He truly exemplified the true spirit of aviation. JJ was always involved in our Young Eagles Program. He had flown young Eagles for ten years from 1988 through 1998 in two of his RV-4’s. He would brief the youngsters on the flight to be taken and then depart, letting the Young Eagle take the controls and find their way back to the airport. Can you imagine how exciting that must have been?

In 1998 he had a stroke that kept him from the left seat. Some folks may have stopped their involvement right there, but JJ continued volunteering on every Young Eagles event that the Chapter had. JJ fad fully supported all Chapter activities and had given his time freely.

JJ had spearheaded the following Chapter projects: 1) The restoration of a 1946 Aeronca 2) The building of an RV-6 3) The building of a N3 4) The building of a Quad City Challenger 5) The Zenith 701 project.

Military Service and Service to the Aviation Community

JJ’s Military service was with the 8th Army Air Force, Air Depot # 2, Warton, England where he spent one and one half years repairing aircraft from 1943 to mid 1944. When repairs were no longer needed due to the rapid production of aircraft at that time JJ guarded German prisoners in Reinburg, Germany. After the German surrender, JJ was sent to Okinawa, where he guarded Japanese prisoners until he returned home in 1946. JJ worked on the first VOR Station in Pennsylvania on Bangor Mountain in Stroudsburg. The station was named Tannersville VOR with a frequency of 114.2. It was functional from 1951 through 1953. It could be tuned in all the way from Washington, DC while on the ground. The station was too powerful and interfered with other stations having the same frequency so it was taken out of service in 1953-54. Frequencies were hard to come by in the early VOR days.

JJ went on to work on fourteen more VOR stations throughout the country, the furthest being Paducky, KY., constructing roofs and ventilating systems. JJ would fly three workers home each evening if the jobs were within one flying hour of Stroudsburg, PA. If the jobs were more than an hour away, his crew would stay until the job was completed.

JJ also flew from Stroudsburg, PA to Washington, DC to pick up Senator Rooney for a dinner engagement that the Senator had in E. Stroudsburg, PA. He did this in a Cherokee that he had sold to a friend a few weeks before the trip.

Personal Achievements in Aviation

JJ worked for Glen Martin, building the B-26 from 1941 through 1942. In 1946 he worked for ERCO (Engineering and Research Corporation) building the Ercoupe. Some of JJ’s other personal achievements were winning a Zenith model flying contest, held when he was in high school, at the 109 Infantry Armory. There he kept his model flying without hitting the ceiling or walls of the Armory for four minutes and twenty seconds. Five rubber bands, a custom made specially pitched prop and the correct rudder deflection were the deciding factors.

He said that was the start of his aviation career. JJ flew gliders with Mickey Meinhoff, who left Germany to work with the US Space Program as a machinist. He flew gliders, which were winched then catapulted, from Pegasus Airport. JJ’s longest solo glider flight was four hours and fifteen minutes in a Sweitzer 126. He said he had to come down because he was freezing and had to, you know….pee!

In 1986 JJ built a Mong Bi-plane which he completed himself. Also to his credit, JJ had built two RV-4’s; one in 1987 which he completed himself and another in 1990 with Jimmy Giatrakis. On the latter project, Jimmy bought the kit while JJ purchased the engine. JJ held a private, glider and instrument rating. 

Ivan L. Battern 1925 - 2011, EAA # 169671

Ivan grew up in the Quad Cities of Illinois and Iowa. At the age of 16, he entered the Marine Corps and served during WWII in America Samoa, Wallis Island, Abemama and Tarawa. After the war, he attended the Spartan School of Aeronautics in Tulsa, Okla. After graduation, he dusted crops in Oklahoma and Texas. He was hired as a pilot by Pan American World Airlines. Due to industry realignments, he flew for various airlines including Eastern Airlines, Trans Ocean and USOA. In 1955, he was hired by Seaboard World Airlines, a scheduled air cargo carrier, as a relief captain. In 1980 Seaboard merged with The Flying Tiger Line. He retired as a captain of the B747 in 1984. His airline career had taken him around the world.

In 1971, he purchased what was the unused Barrett Airport in Canadensis, restored it and renamed the airport the Flying Dollar. At the Flying Dollar, Captain Battern restored many airplanes and was known in the area by both locals and tourists for his aerobatic rides.

John Parker, Sr. 1926 - 2010, EAA # 129210

John helped purchase a Commonwealth that was flown and owned along with Art Schwedler and John Parker Jr. The aircraft now sits in the large hangar waiting to fly once again. John Sr. was an avid aviator who received his pilot’s license in the early 1940’s. John was a World War 2 Naval Veteran and the youngest Sailor aboard the USS Tuscaloosa. At age 17, while on the ship, he shook Dwight D. Eisenhower’s hand one day prior to the D-Day invasion of Normandy. John and his dad started the Parker Oil Company in 1955. John served on the Stroudsburg School Board in the 1960’s and 70’s, was a Monroe County Commissioner, belonged to the Monroe County Housing Authority, the Monroe County Solid Waste Authority, the Mount Pocono Municipal Airport Authority, a member of the Public Library Board and the Monroe Chapter of the American Red Cross.

Neal Bond 1963 - 2009 EAA # 824020

Neal carried a Sport Pilot’s License and was an active member of Chapter 839. Neal flew when he could find the time and loved aviation. Apart from being an active member of our chapter, Neal also gave his time to community affairs. He was a member of the West End Radio Controlled Group for 23 years, a member of the Monroe County Bees Keepers Association, a member of the Old Time Tractors Club, a volunteer for the West End Little League and West End Soccer League, a volunteer for Boy Scout Troop # 98 and Cub Scout Pack # 98. Neal also ran a remote aircraft show for the “Make a Wish” Program called “Wings Full of Wishes.”

Neal would always find time to give of himself. All one had to do was ask. He was a true craftsman who always came up with innovative ideas when working on a project or helping a fellow member. Neal was a “doer”, a friend, and an inspiration to all that knew him.

Thomas Dodd, EAA # 523573

Tom liked to fly radio controlled models down the middle of New York City streets. He met JJ when a model aircraft had gotten stuck in a tree at the Hialeah Model Aircraft Field near Smithfield, PA, along the Delaware River. JJ recruited Tom as a member right on the spot. Tom became a steady worker in the earlier days of the Chapter, working on the N3 Pup. He was instrumental in building an EAA Bi-Plane with 839. Steve was an excellent craftsman and model aircraft builder. Steve was employed by the New York City Police Department. His military career began when he joined the Marines after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. He was in the first deployment to Guadalcanal where the Marines took Henderson Field from the Japanese. Steve was an ammunition carrier for the water-cooled 30 Caliber Machine Gun.

Steve Lakatosh, 1921-2006, EAA # 43118

Steve was an original part owner of Pegasus Airport and was also an avid aviator. He became a flight instructor and would lend his time giving Bi-Annual flight reviews for the members of Chapter 839. Steve was also part owner with Micky Minhoff in the Glider operation at East Stroudsburg and Pegasus airports. Steve was also a military pilot and served with the Army Air Force in Panama when World War 2 broke out. He remained there until 1944 when he started flying the A-20 Attack Bomber. Steve then volunteered for Combat Cargo missions in a twin engine Curtis C-46 in which he delivered cargo to the Philippino Guerillas who were fighting the Japanese at that time. He and his Co-Pilot were momentarily captured while landing at a jungle airstrip. They managed their escape and flew the C-46 to a friendlier airstrip. Steve also flew the “Pea Shooter”, the Boeing P-26, which was the first monoplane produced for the services. In civilian life he was an Executive Pilot who mostly flew CEO’s.

Don Roland, 1922-2004, EAA # 539647

Don learned to fly in the J-3 Cub and later went on to become a Naval Fighter Pilot in World War 2 where he flew Grumman Wildcats and Hellcats. Don then became a Night Qualified Fighter Pilot and was stationed with the Carrier Group which was preparing for the invasion of the Japanese Homeland which thankfully never occurred.

DDS, James Meckes, 1924 - 2002, EAA # 598439

James worked on the construction of the Chapter’s RV-6 and N3 Pup projects. He later became a partner with JJ Banks on a Cessna172. James spent his military career in World War 2 as a Celestial Navigator on the B-17’s. His B-17 went out the night before D-Day to gather weather information for General Eisenhower. That weather report from his B-17 was the deciding factor for the next day’s invasion.

Paul Cilurso, 1926 - 2001, EAA # 531518

Paul was an active member of Chapter 839 who never missed a work session. Paul was instrumental in building the Chapter’s RV-6 in JJ’s shop. For the first part of his working Career Paul was a Police Officer while the second half was spent in manufacturing. Paul was a World War 2 Veteran and an avid aviation enthusiast.

Reinhold (Micky) Minhoff, 1914 - 1995, EAA # 18726

Micky’s aviation career began in 1929 when he was entered into the Glider Group at Dinslaken, Germany. In 1935 he was enrolled in the Motor Plane School. In 1936 he took a flight instructors course for motor planes in Neuruppin where he remained as a flight instructor until 1940, while also doing glider flights in Oldenburg. Also, in 1938, Micky completed his blind pilot course. In 1940 he was awarded his Blind Flight Instructor’s certificate. In 1941 he received his Glider Instructor’s certificate and gave instruction for rubber tubing winches and glider towing. In 1943 he became a test pilot instructor for the German Air Force in all classes up to, and including, the Blind Pilot’s certificate. Mickey flew approximately 120 different motor planes, nearly all German. He also flew the “Booty Machines” including French, Czech, Polish, Russian, English, American and Italian. In 1945 he began flying one man jet fighter planes. Mickey moved to the United States after World War 2. He owned a machine shop in New York City where he also performed works for NASA. Micky operated a glider towing winch at the East Stroudsburg and Pegasus airfields and became partners in the operation with Steve Lakatosh.

Harold D. Hayden, 1917 - 1987, EAA # 4473

Harold was a charter member of Chapter 839. He ran the 3M airport in Bristol, PA and later ran the airport in East Stroudsburg where our Chapter originated. Harold provided our Chapter with its first airplane kit, a Quickie, which was later sold to buy a 1946 Aeronca. That was basically the formal start of our Chapter. 

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