By DON STINE
The quiet little borough of Interlaken has one major claim to history – the 1910 air show held in the borough – an event that helped set aviation history and brought more than 100,000 people to the sleepy, seaside borough.
A special bronze plaque honoring the event will be dedicated in the local park, on Bridlemere Avenue, during Interlaken’s annual borough picnic on Sat., Sept. 8. The dedication of the estimated 100-pound plaque will take place at 5 p.m.
“We must never forget the role that Interlaken played in aviation history. This is our history and history cannot be forgotten. Through the monument we must share this message with residents and visitors so that it is not forgotten,” Borough Historian Bob Waitt said.
Waitt will have a special display prepared giving information about the air show during the picnic.
“Many Interlaken residents are likely unaware that a major historical event took place right here at the very dawn of the aviation era. I’m thrilled that we have decided to install a permanent commemorative marker for this huge event that took place in our quiet little borough back in 1910. This important story deserves to be told today and we are fortunate that our Borough Council voted unanimously to install this beautiful marker to continue telling this fascinating story for generations to come. People will be shocked to know that 100,000 tourists attended this air show at Interlaken,” Mayor Michael Nohilly said.
Seven years after the Wright Brothers made aviation history at Kitty Hawk, most Americans had yet to see an airplane. To generate interest and create an industry, the Wrights took their airplanes to the people and 1910 became the year of air shows and aviation history was made in Interlaken, one of the very early air shows.
“People had never seen an airplane before so it was a huge attraction,” Waitt said.
The 10-day Interlaken Air Show was billed as “Americas Greatest Air Meet.” It was sponsored by the Aero & Motor Club Inc. of Asbury Park to generate tourism. It was called the Asbury Park Aviation Meet at Interlaken since Interlaken was then considered a restricted suburb of Asbury Park and had the only large space available for such an event.
Thousands flocked to the 40-acre field on the northwest section of Interlaken, stretching from Interlaken Park to Windermere Ave. They came to see five Wright Brothers-trained pilots perform their death-defying feats and record-setting firsts, some resulting in tragedies.
The event saw the death of a balloonist and two of the pilots would be dead by the end of the year. The air show resulted in the first-ever aviation-related law suit, the first delivery of mail by an airplane (from Interlaken to the Deal County Club), the first time an automobile was hit by an airplane and the first nighttime flight, flying over the Asbury Park boardwalk.
Interlaken profited greatly from the event since it was a slow developing little community and drawing 100,000 people to this little cottage community. It started a building boom that lasted through the 1930’s, Waitt said.
Below is an Asbury Park Historical Society YouTube video about the show.