Lake Jackson-Florala-T33A Shooting Star

Another place I pass almost every day, either on my way to Lakewood Park to walk or just to run into town for food and supplies. Only live about a mile from the Alabama state line and the small town of Florala. One of the best attractions for this town is Lake Jackson. The lakes marsh land actually reaches into an area directly across the highway from my house.

Lake Jackson is said to be 408 acres (some say 500 acres) with a drainage basin of 1,134 acres. The lake is divided east to west by the state line of Alabama and Florida. The only natural body of water where one can easily travel by boat, canoe, paddle board, jet ski, swim (you get the idea) from one state to the other without even knowing it. Was once thought by many to be spring fed however, a study conducted in 2005 by State Geologists determined that Lake Jackson is not a spring fed lake but rather a prehistoric sinkhole dependent totally upon rain for its water supply. See this report: LAKE JACKSON HYDROGEOLOGIC ASSESSMENT

The lake was named for General Andrew Jackson who camped with his army on its shores while in route to battle the Spaniards in Pensacola.

As with most bodies of water in the southeast US, Lake Jackson is home to the alligator. When one frequents the swimming sites or if the alligator exceeds a certain length, it is captured and relocated by park officials to a more appropriate body of water. It is also home to several majestic Bald Eagles! And of course we cannot forget the friendly ducks that are continually begging for food from all who enjoy the park.

The Florala City Park located along the shores of Lake Jackson is about one and a half miles long and consists of approximately forty acres of land. The park’s 40 acres were originally donated by local landowners to the city of Florala, and for decades the park was owned and operated by the city. In the early years, the park offered few amenities. In 1932, however, local volunteers constructed a beach on the north shore. The following year, the federally funded Civilian Conservation Corps added a clubhouse near the lake. In 1970, the land was transferred to the state of Alabama, and the city park became part of the state park system. In 1986, the state added a campground and other facilities. A bicycle and pedestrian trail runs the entire length of the park.

Trails and paths around the lake are often used by hikers/runners/walkers. Also used many times for cross country events held by local high schools like Paxton High School and Florala High School with many other schools invited to participate in their 5K events. It is also home to a major event including a 5K held each year the first Saturday in February to raise money for local people with cancer in need of financial assistance. A totally volunteer organization started by a local couple that puts money directly into the hands of those needing it. They do much more than I could ever explain here so take a moment and explore their site …. It’s called Cancer Freeze!

The campground underwent a major renovation in 2006 and now features 28 modern campsites with grills, water, electricity, and sewage hookups. The tent camping area has tables, grills, water, and electricity. Modern restrooms, a coin-operated laundry, and Internet are available at both the tent and modern campgrounds.

In 2015, Florala State Park was transferred back to the city of Florala after the Alabama legislature and Gov. Robert Bentley passed a budget that included the temporary closure of five state parks, including Florala State Park.

The city of Florala has a long and I feel interesting history of which there is certainly not enough room on this blog to try and fulfill. However I did find this link that seems to do a great job explaining in detail the history of Florala and it’s people. Check it out here: Florala History

One thing I do wish to talk about is the T33A parked at Lake Jackson. First I’d like to tell you a little about that type of aircraft according to the U.S. Air Force Fact Sheet – LOCKHEED T-33A SHOOTING STAR

The two seat T-33 jet was designed for training pilots already qualified to fly propeller driven aircraft. It was developed from the single seat F-80 fighter by lengthening the fuselage three feet to accommodate a second cockpit.

Originally designated the TF-80C, the T-33 made its first flight in 1948. Production continued until 1959 with 5,691 T-33s built. In addition to its use as a trainer, the T-33 has been used for such tasks as drone director and target towing, and in some countries even as a combat aircraft. The RT-33A, a reconnaissance version made primarily for use by foreign countries, had a camera installed in the nose and additional equipment in the rear cockpit.

The T-33 is one of the world’s best-known aircraft, having served with the air forces of more than 20 different nations over several decades. The T-33A on display was flown to the museum in 1962.

Armament: Two .50-cal. machine guns in nose
Maximum speed: 525 mph
Cruising speed: 455 mph
Range: 1,000 miles
Ceiling: 45,000 ft.
Span: 37 ft. 6 in.
Length: 37 ft. 8 in.
Height: 11 ft. 7 in.
Weight: 15,000 lbs. maximum
Serial number: 53-5974
Type of Aircraft: (make/model): T-33A

Tail Number: (S/N): 53-4938

According to research provided by the Air Force Historical Research Agency at Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama, this particular T-33A was manufactured by Lockheed Aircraft, Burbank California, and delivered to the U. S. Air Force on June 4, 1954. The following is a summary of its service:

Jun 1954 – 3205th Drone Group (Air Proving Ground Command), Eglin AFB FL
Dec 1957 – Air Proving Ground Center (Air Research and Development Command), Eglin AFB (deployment to Holloman AFB NM)
Oct 1965 – AF Logistics Command, Eglin AFB
Dec 1965 – Dropped from inventory by transfer to museum status. Presented to Florala State Park December 7, 1965!

One of Lake Jackson Walkway

Scene of Lake from Road
Yes there are swings

Hope you found this interesting. Thanks for reading and hopefully following. Not an “Old Biker” by definition, just an old man that loves to ride motorcycles. Not really a Biker “motorcyclists” fits better.

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One Response to “Lake Jackson-Florala-T33A Shooting Star”

  1. Pat Says:

    Very interesting!

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