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 (eaa839.org). 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 Aronca 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.