Belle of Liberty

Letting Freedom Ring

Monday, August 20, 2012

Weird NJ and the Greenwood Lake Air Show

My family and I can never agree on getting together to do something.  Saturday was the perfect blue-sky day to go see the Greenwood Lake Air Show in West Milford.  But no, they all had to go down to Atlantic City or some such place, where Mom wound up eating something that didn’t agree with her.

I told them Saturday was the perfect day and that this show had something for everyone (except female females) – planes, cars, bands, food.  Even dogs.  This show even had a World War II military re-enactment, ala Normandy.  They also had vehicles and armament from the other side, and from other wars.  I’d never handled a rifle before.  I couldn’t believe how heavy it was.  God bless our soldiers.

Another family, from West Milford, missed the show, too.  They had a better excuse; they were on their way to Guantanamo Bay to witness the pre-military tribune of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed & Company.  They told the Bergen Record that they just had to see him for themselves to believe, for they were a 9/11 family.

If they went to see a one-man carnival, they're going to the right place.  I’ve seen KSM in person.  He’s very good at acrobatics, sleight-of-hand, and clown tricks.  We also saw Mohammed Atta.  We first saw him in our hometown, long before 9/11.  He sure looked like a terrorist to us.  He was headed up the Hamburg Turnpike with some other guy.  We couldn’t imagine what in the world was up there that would interest him.

At the time, Greenwood Lake Airport was closed.  It had been open.  It was open the summer of 1972, when Jungle Habitat first opened to the public.  The airport was right next to the attraction.  Jungle Habitat closed four years later because while the people of West Milford didn’t mind the four-legged animals, they did mind the two-legged variety.  They voted down a motion to allow the park to expand, with amusement rides and so forth, so that it could make more money.

Jungle Habitat even had some Cessna aircraft painted in tiger colors.  Visitors who could afford the flight could get an aerial view of the park.  Greenwood Lake Airport still has the “Flying Tigers” and they performed in this weekend’s show.

Warner Brothers left, leaving the carcasses of the poor elephants and other exotic jungle creatures, left to die of starvation and the cold of a northeastern winter.  Other animals, according to legend survived to breed in the encroaching wilderness.  A Google map observation of the former park shows where nature has encroached and swallowed up sections of the park’s winding roads.  Other parts of the road are still visible from the air.  Nature is even encroaching on its former parking lots.

Jungle Habitat is the center of much speculation about haunted roads.  Clinton Road is the preferred road for ghost hunters.  However, it’s miles away from the park, past a shopping center and various homes and businesses.  It is Beaufort Meadows Road that cuts through miles and miles of wilderness, straight through the former park, with nary a home in sight.

Macopin Road is the preferred route to getting to Greenwood Lake Airport, especially if you’re a terrorist.  You could take Ringwood Avenue up to West Brook Road, but that would take you past the main entrance of Wanaque Reservoir, which is (these days) heavily guarded.

Mohammed Atta would have had his choice of airports.  Just south of Jungle Habitat is another, smaller, practically unknown airport on West Brook Road, called Hill Top Airport.  A dirt road leads to this airport and unless you’re very, very local, you wouldn’t even know it’s there. 

Now, why would he have been so interested in one of these airports?  Because both Greenwood Lake and Hill Top airports on a flight path for Newark Airport.  The flight path is popular because Wanaque Reservoir is an enormous landmark for pilots.  The theory is Atta and his crews trained for their mission in sections.

One of the air show pilots got a little too close to the commercial airliner passing overhead, or the commercial pilot came too low, and the show plane was within a very short distance of hitting before the show pilot execute a somersault turn.  The commercial airliner seemed to give a little job, as if spooked by the near miss.

On the day we saw Atta, though, we theorized that there were three other reasons he might be interested in a Saturday jaunt up towards Jungle Habitat and Norvin Green State Forest:  a) the granite-covered London mine, a handy place to hide uranium since it’s underwater and would keep things “cool”; b) one of the many quarries in our area, which obviously carry dynamite and other explosives for blasting rock; and c) our local shooting ranges.  Turned out, all Atta needed was a box cutter.  And a jet plane.

If Greenwood Lake Airport was ever a private airport, it isn’t any longer.  The air show had to stop for several minutes because some clown decided the end of the runway was a great place to view the airplanes taking off.  The show had put on a Dukes of Hazzard-style airplane chase earlier.  But this was the real thing, although the state police chased the troublemaker in a golf cart, not a Crown Victoria.

Big Brother didn’t believe it when we saw Mohammed Atta.  He didn’t believe it when I told him this air show had a World War II re-enactment.  After I told him about it, he wound up regretting that he hadn’t gone to see it.

I hope the 9/11 family won’t regret going to see KSM in person.  They were obviously incredulous at reports of his arrogant, ostentatious behavior.  If they’re going to see a contrite, repentant terrorist, they’re in for a disappointment.  He was repentant before 9/11, he isn’t now, and he won’t be any time soon, unless the military tribunal, weary of his attitude, decides to dispatch him forthwith.

As for me, been there, done that.  I much prefer 1955 Chevys, Flying Tigers, U.S. WWII re-enactors, Great Danes, and the Lady Wingwalker. 


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