Fifteen years after the first drive-in theater, Edward Brown decided to take things to the next level. On June 3, 1948, in Wall Township, NJ, the first-ever Fly-In Drive-In Theatre opened to cars and planes. That’s right, both cars and planes were able to enjoy this outdoor movie theater.
Ed Brown operated an airport on the same property and would allow about 15-25 planes (accounts vary) to taxi to the back of the theater grounds. To return to the landing strip, a Jeep would tow the planes.
Ed Brown seemed like a firecracker, as well as a major businessman, community leader, and innovator. Ed Brown purchased the land in 1938 and bulldozed everything with a WWI tank. Besides the airport and fly-in drive-in theater, the land also included a quarry, golf range, amusement park, playground…
If you are searching for information on this drive-in theater, many addresses many yield results: Allenwood, Belmar, Farmingdale, Asbury Park, Wall Township, Neptune Township. The first four towns are part of what is now Wall Township, and Neptune Township is next door. In “Drive-In Theaters: A History from their Inception in 1933,” Kerry Seagrave has Belmar as a separate fly-in drive-in theatre, but many public comments and other articles make them one in the same.
I have been unable to find a closing date for the drive-in. 1953 Historical Aerials shows the drive-in, and in 1963 it still looks “alive.” However, the next option, 1970, it is clearly no longer in use.
In 2006, Ed Brown passed away. The airport and surrounding land is now Monmouth Executive Airport.
There were many spots to take photos, including the former ticket booth, concession stand and projection booth, as well as the base of the screen.
Besides the Seagrave book, these two articles were helpful and interesting:
- http://www.nj.com/news/index.ssf/2013/12/monmouth_executive_airport_sold_buyer.html: Article on the purchase of the airport.
- http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=1350&dat=19560717&id=brpOAAAAIBAJ&sjid=uwAEAAAAIBAJ&pg=7189,5515222: Actual Newspaper article Toledo Blade, Tuesday July 17, 1956. Neptune, NJ.