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Hammond - Southern Parachute Center

Submitted by Mike Marcon, SPC jumpmaster and pilot 1966 through 1969

Open from about 1964 until 1969
Owned and operated by Leon and Prissie Riche

Southern Parachute Center had an earlier history as a club and a sometimes commercial drop zone prior to 1964. About 1964, Leon and Prissie Riche borrowed funding from Leon’s mother and opened Southern Parachute Center as a full-time endeavor. They operated a Howard DGA-15P and a Cessna 170 off of the sprawling ex-B-24 Liberator bomber crew training airfield just outside of Hammond. The airport had three five thousand foot concrete runways and an old haunted control tower. At least, I thought it was haunted. Airports like Hammond were common throughout the country built during World War II for training air crews.

SPC was one of the only commercial centers operating in the Deep South in those days and we entertained and supported jumpers from all over the world. SPC was a world unto itself during that time. The world was seemingly falling apart and we didn’t give a damn as long as the weather was jumpable, the beer was cold and there was gas for the aircraft. It was the early days of sport parachuting, and the center was a must-stop at one time or another for just about every serious jumper in the country.

Leon is still looking for Jesus somewhere in Texas. Prissie died of cancer. I’m still here with seven grandkids looking for my shaker of salt. It ain’t my fault. Nobody ever told me that unregulated sex creates large families. What the hell, they largely ignore me anyway. That, is until I cut one that peels the paint off the walls.

I have hundreds of photos from that time. Here are just a few: