Recently, I asked the owner of an airplane for his physical address, and he said he didn't have one. He lived on a remote strip in the mountains and had only GPS coordinates. And suddenly, I was jealous. He was living my dream and that of many others in aviation.
Think of the concept: He was remote enough that, essentially, he lived in a world of his own making. He was definitely not a social dropout nor a doomsday prepper. In fact, he had retired as an executive from a Fortune 100 company. But, he had made a conscious decision to remove himself from the complexities of urban/suburban, or even rural, life. He had moved to an island of sorts that was bordered by miles of wilderness, and he owned about 1,000 acres of it, although that number wasn't important.
Given the extent of the surrounding wilderness, if it had been 10 acres, it would have been plenty. What was important was that the nearest regular road was many miles away and that one was 30 miles of narrow dirt that connected to the nearest paved road. To find his place, you drove to the end of the Earth, then kept going and had to be prepared to either walk or four-wheel the rest of it. His little slice of utopia was made possible only because of his airplanes. Two of them.
He had been planning his escape for some time before retirement, but I'm not sure which came first: his airplanes or his location. Either way, from the get-go, he knew a runway was going to be part of his new life equation. Having a two-way access to the world via airplane was central to everything.
We talked about it, and he shared some of his thoughts and plans. First and foremost, he didn't want to be more than about 20 minutes from a loaf of bread. Meaning, he wanted ready access to enough civilization that his medical and cultural needs could be attended to. While he wanted his own slice of wilderness, he didn't want he and his wife to be stuck too far out in the boonies should they get the urge to go to a decent restaurant. Or shop for the latest in boots or chainsaws.
Let's see: 20 minutes. His two airplanes were a Husky and an "interesting" Aztec. Interesting, because he had everything mechanical completely restored but had only a basic panel and almost no interior. The backseat was missing, as was the aft bulkhead. The cavernous space behind the front seat was lined with powder-coated aluminum sheet. Cargo hooks protruded about every foot or so down both sides of the floor, and the right door had quick-release hinges so he could remove the door and slide half sheets of plywood, etc., down into the airplane. He also had a couple of big fuel cells that would let him ferry fuel into his own little fuel farm. Purposely given an oxidized paint job, the Aztec was his go-to-town-and-pick-'em-up truck.
So, how far would his 20-minutes-to-a-loaf-of-bread criteria let him move into the countryside?
Figure a conservative 125 mph cruise on the Husky. That's 41 miles in 20 minutes. A pretty far piece, as we used to say. So, you find a likable small town located where major highways don't go and side roads are few, draw a circle 80 miles in diameter from the corner grocery store, and within it you're likely to find a place that's not too unlike his. This could be true in most parts of the country.
As for flying hardware, if you don't want/need the bush capability of the Husky and don't want the size/beef/speed of the Aztec, there are lots of airplanes that would work, depending on your local terrain. If you're into hauling stuff and have enough land to get 2,500 feet of runway and good approaches, you can be fairly high above sea level and still operate something like a C-206.
If wanting something smaller, an old square-tail C-182 will do anything you want and won't need as much runway. Either way, you'd be guaranteed 160 mph or better, so your 20-minute circle becomes well over 100 miles across. Now, we're covering some serious territory!
Of course, if you can tolerate roads coming perilously close to your little slice of rural heaven, you can seek out a distant farm, and there are lots and lots of those. This makes the surface drive to town more tolerable, but something like a little C-120 or 150 would make an arduous drive into an easy one.
Incidentally, you don't need to move up into the mountains to find boondocks. Or solitude. Here in the Southwest, we have lots of places where, as soon as you leave town, the area goes into "total hermit" mode. There's a medium-sized horse-ranch complex perched on the edge of my aerobatic practice area that's absolutely invisible to the world. The "road" in is just a scar in the terrain, but I can see a couple of 4x4s in the yard, and there's an unused runway in the backyard. In a straight line, it's not three miles from a major, sophisticated shopping center that's within walking distance of an airport, but there's some curvy, twisty terrain between their runway and that airport. It would be a 45-minute drive but a three-minute flight in anything with wings.
Three air miles past him is a 200-acre perfectly flat ranch perched on the banks of a major reservoir and surrounded by total mountain wilderness. It has to take at least 11⁄2 hours to drive to town, but it wouldn't be a 10-minute flight, even in a Cub. Better yet, the main road through the farm fields runs flat and right into prevailing winds. A flawless runway! They have their own little world. Wonderful amenities. But, no airplane. Sad! Wonder if they know what they're missing?
Both of these sites are so close to the fifth largest city that they're under the upper tier of the Bravo airspace (7,000-foot floor). That's close! Yet they're the epitome of solitude.
I'm certain neither of these places has a conventional address; I find that wildly attractive. Once again, little airplanes plant the seeds of wonderful dreams. They seem to do that a lot, don't they?