SilverWing At Sandpoint
If the ability to fly is humankind's oldest dream, living with one's airplane probably ranks a close second. "A lot of pilots have it on their bucket list," says Carol Vandervliet of Aviation Homes and Lands (aviationhomes.com), a real estate agency specializing in properties with runways, "to have their airplane right at their door and be able to fly it at will." But more pilots are finally deciding to stop dreaming and start living, as residential airparks across the country report an uptick in sales of lots and new construction, and a healthy market in existing airpark homes. Aviation real estate professionals say there has never been a better time to make the move, and ample evidence supports their claims: interest rates are low, the choice of airpark communities and housing options are high, and every day you wait is a day you could be living with your airplane.
Some 625 residential airparks are spread across the U.S., according to the Living With Your Plane organization (LYPO; livingwithyourplane.com). "It's just a great lifestyle," says LYPO publisher Ben Sclair, who grew up on Shady Acres Airpark (3B8) in Washington. But Sclair and others urge using your head as well as your heart when considering airpark properties. "For some reason [prospective buyers] let common sense leave them when it comes to airpark decisions," Sclair says. He recommends making sure "the amenities that are important to you" are nearby. Adds Vandervliet, a resident of Florida's Buckingham Airpark (FL59), "Whether a female or a male pilot, make sure your spouse will be happy there."
Finding a residential airpark that fulfills the needs of everyone in the household is easier than ever. Reflecting the vibrant lifestyle of today's pilots, many contemporary airparks offer a vast range of outdoor activities, impressive state-of-the-art homes, and nearby communities providing a wealth of cultural activities, shopping and dining choices, and essential services. The airparks listed in the directory below provide an overview of the lifestyle opportunities available now. LYPO has checklists and tools on its site to use with your search. Real estate agents who specialize in such properties can help with appraisals and financing. One more recommendation from experts for anyone considering buying into the residential airpark lifestyle: "If you're going to do it, don't wait," advises Vandervliet. "Do it now, and you'll have no regrets."
Alpine, Wyo. | alpineairpark.com
Long a pilot's paragon of the rugged but genteel backcountry paradise, Alpine Airpark (4U6; rwy. 5,850 ft; elev. 5,647 ft.), in the shadow of Wyoming's Teton Mountains, is now a growing community, as well. The airpark recently welcomed a new FBO facility with ramp, office, overnight parking, and Jet A and avgas, and owner Bill Weimann reports the "best summer for sales activity" ever, with 17 lots, five homes and six stand-alone hangars purchased. That totals 107 homesites sold, 48 homes built and 14 under construction. Nine more hangars large enough to accommodate interior living quarters are slated for construction.
The airpark's Refuge development, featuring 22 two-acre lots, has also opened, and the Palisades Park development on the west side of the runway—with nine two-acre lots with custom Wyoming contemporary homes and attached 80x80-foot hangars—comes online next summer. Meanwhile, the runway itself is now owned by the members of the Alpine Airpark Association, ensuring continued sound fiscal management and capital fund resources for future improvements. Executive hangars with attached apartments range from $525,000 to $700,000, and Refuge lots are $800,000. The four-season recreational wonderland, beautiful homes and the chance to live with their airplanes draw most residents, Weimann says, but what they like best about Alpine Airpark is "the sense of community."
BIG SOUTH FORK AIRPARK
Oneida, Tenn. | bsfairpark.com
With through-the-fence access to Scott Municipal Airport (KSCX; rwy.. 5,506 ft.; elev. 1,545 ft.), an on-site equestrian facility, and the 125,000-acre Big South Fork National River and Recreation area as its backyard, Big South Fork Airpark (BSFA) in Eastern Tennessee is "an equestrian community as much as an aviation community" says Bill "BA" Armstrong, one of the developers. "Land your plane, taxi into your hangar, call the barn, have two horses brought to your home and go trail riding." Hiking, fishing, camping and ATV riding are also high on the activity list.
Big South Fork Airpark
Founded in 2006, the 400-acre development features one- to three-acre homesites starting in the low $100,000s. Utilities (underground) are in place, and more than 30 of the 55 homesites of Phase 1 are sold or under contract. Seven homes have been built and several are under construction. In recent months, a new hangar apron, taxiway, and additional roads and utility lines have been completed. Taxiway lots are available as are personal hangars (starting at $95,000) adjacent the runway. A total of 142 homesites are planned. If you'd like to know more, BSFA hosts quarterly Adventure Weekends where visitors can meet residents and experience the airpark's lifestyle for themselves.
ELK RIVER CLUB
Banner Elk, N.C. | elkriverclub.com
Located in North Carolina's scenic high country, Elk River appeals to "the retired airplane owner and pilot looking for a summer residence, and pilots looking for a convenient weekend mountain retreat," says Stephen Raville, a home and hangar owner for almost 20 years and committee member of the Elk River Pilots and Owners Association. Founded in 1966, the 1,250-acre Elk River Club development offers a championship golf course, gourmet dining, swimming pool, tennis, equestrian facility, and spa and fitness center. The Elk River, which runs through the property, features some of the best trout fishing in the eastern U.S. Hiking in the summer and skiing at Beech and Sugar Mountains in the winter are also popular. Raville reports numerous lots have been purchased and homes completed, with 188 of the 250 homesites built on, and 97 of the 100 planned condominiums constructed. Sites range from $100,000 to $300,000. Condominiums are priced from $300,000 to $900,000 and homes from $750,000 to over $5,000,000. There are eight permanent hangers on the airport (NC06; 4,600-ft; elev. 3,468 ft.) and significant ramp space for tie downs for members' aircraft, which range from a Cessna 182 to a Falcon 50.
Clayton, Ga. | heavenslanding.com
It may sound remote, tucked into the Blue Ridge Mountains of northeast Georgia, but bucolic Heaven's Landing airpark (GE99; rwy.. 5,062 ft.; elev. 2,724 ft.), is "very much in the middle of everywhere," says owner/developer and former race car driver Mike Ciochetti. Set between Chattanooga and Nashville, the 635-acre retreat founded in 2001 has seen a recent uptick in sales, with 110 of Phase One's 173 homesites now sold, 15 homes built and four under construction. Lot prices,
including taxiway lots, range from $120,000 to $275,000, home prices from $400,000 to $3 million, and hangars from $175,000 to $300,000. A recent affiliation with nearby Waterfall Country Club provides residents with access to golf, tennis and other club facilities, while lakes, rivers and the surrounding National Forest offer water and jet skiing, swimming, fishing and boating, white water rafting, kayaking, four wheeling, hiking, biking, horseback riding, and camping Meanwhile, the town of Clayton has restaurants run by top-ranked chefs, fine supermarkets, farmer's markets, an organic food coop and old-fashioned local butcher shops, so "no gourmet food junky will ever be disappointed here," Ciochetti promises.
HOLLEY MOUNTAIN AIRPARK
Clinton, Ark. | holleymountainairpark.com
Set in the Ozarks of Arkansas, Holley Mountain Airpark (2A2; rwy. 4,795; elev. 1,269 ft.) offers residents "the ability to climb out of your aircraft, sit on your front porch and still be 'up in the air,' thanks to our mountaintop location," says airpark representative Gary Garland. "Great neighbors, a proactive pilots and owners association, and aviation fellowship" are also a primary draw, he adds, with the community including weekend flyers, corporate pilots and retired airline pilots. The 200-acre development, which broke ground in 1999, now has 31 homes, and 60 of the 87 available homesites have been purchased. A 3,500-sq.ft. home with attached hangar was recently completed, and several new homes are planned. Homes range from about $350,000 to $1 million. Residents enjoy fishing and water sports at nearby Greers Ferry Lake, Heber Springs, the Red River and the Buffalo National River System, have a choice of several golf courses, and a short drive away is Mountain View, Folk Music Capital of the world. The airpark's 30-some based aircraft include piston singles and light twins, with vintage, experimental and homebuilt aircraft among them.
KITTY HAWK ESTATES
Live Oak, Fla.| (386) 362-6674
North Florida's Kitty Hawk Estates (FL09; rwy. 3,000 ft.; elev. 90 ft,), established in 1969, features simple "country living" in a quiet, relaxed community, says Ronnie Caudill, who founded the 300-acre development with her late husband, Richard, in 1969. The couple put in the sod runway themselves, and today all the lots of the 20-some homes are treed with the oak, cedar and pines the couple planted on the former farmland. "The people who live here" are what make the development unique, she says. "They're a great bunch." Based aircraft include Stearmans, a Cessna 195 and what she calls "EAA airplanes." Fuel can be brought in, and residents can have their own fuel tanks. The rejuvenated town of Live Oak boasts restaurants, shopping and even big-box stores "right here in Suwannee County," Caudill says, while the nearby Suwannee River and natural springs offer outdoor adventure. Almost all residents live here full time, and homes continue changing hands. A two-acre lot and a home are currently available. "I can finance if need be," she says, "But I'm 75—I don't know if I should."
MAZATZAL MOUNTAIN AIRPARK
Payson, Ariz.| cecompanies.com/mmap4
Set in the world's largest Ponderosa Pine forest on a mile-high plateau, this Arizona airpark provides through-the-fence access ($30/month fee) to Payson Municipal Airport (KPAN; rwy. 5,504 ft.; elev. 5,157 ft.), and now has 35 homes on its 111 half-acre lots. Just 75 miles south of the Phoenix/Scottsdale area and its attractions and cultural activities, Payson enjoys some of the best year-round weather in the U.S. The residents include "a very active population of homebuilders," says airpark representative Jacqueline Boone, and the airpark fleet of some 30 aircraft includes singles and light twins. All public utilities, including municipal water and sewer are in place (underground). Phase 4, last of the airpark's development plans, commenced this year, offering 40 additional lots, all .4 acres and above, starting at $78,000. Nine have been purchased, five now have homesites, one is under construction, and a model home is available for sale. The two million-acre Tonto National Forest borders the airpark, providing unobstructed natural views and access to endless outdoor activities and miles of hiking trails. Homes at Mazatzal Airpark range from $315,000 to $1.1 million.
Mountain Air Country Club
MOUNTAIN AIR COUNTRY CLUB
Burnsville, N.C.| mountainaircc.com
Crowned as the highest public-use airport east of the Mississippi, North Carolina's Mountain Air Country Club (2NC0; rwy. 2,900 ft.; elev. 4,432; permission, checkout required for landing) has long been one of the best known fly-in communities, acclaimed for its spectacular setting, country club amenities and vacation home ambiance. Founded in 1990, about 600 homesites on the 1,330-acre development have been sold. Without hangars or taxiway access, it's not exactly a residential airpark, but the Mountain Air Pilots Association is very active, and about 20% of property owners are pilots and aircraft owners who fly in to their second homes to enjoy hiking, fly fishing, golf, tennis, white-water rafting, stargazing or just relaxing in the crisp air. Now, Mountain Air is "looking toward the next 25 years," says the Club's John Anglin, and pilots may be a growing part of it. Half of today's property inquiries are from pilots, he says, adding, "There's still a lot of great value to be had in free-standing homes, townhouses and condominiums." Lots range from about $59,000 to $1.15 million, villas from about $75,000 to $900,000 and homes from $500,000 to $2.4 million.
Piney Creek Airpark
PINEY CREEK AIRPARK
Altamont, Tenn.| pineycreekairpark.com
Piney Creek Airpark (88TN; rwy. 3,000 ft.; elev. 1,960 ft.), a new residential airpark on Tennessee's Cumberland Plateau, offers quiet country living, outdoor adventuring and investment value in "an affordable residential airpark community," says co-founder Jeff Greenwell. The main attraction: "There's beautiful flying in the area," he says. Jeff and brother Joe, a retired deputy sheriff, both lifelong aviation enthusiasts and pilots, visited numerous residential airparks throughout the eastern U.S., gathering inspiration for their own development, which will feature hangar and custom log homes. The airpark's 300 acres leaves "lots of room to adventure out into the hills," Greenwell says. Eleven of Phase I's 36 lots, sized from about two to six acres, all hardwood covered, have been sold, and full-time residents occupy four homes. This summer's construction of new roadage has opened the Phase II area for an additional 20 lots. Prices range from $89,000 to $211,000.
SANDY'S AIRPARK AT SPORTY'S
Batavia, Ohio | sandysairpark.com
Developed by Sandy Shevers and husband Hal, founder of Sporty's Pilot Shop, Sandy's Airpark at Sporty's offers through-the-fence access to Sporty's/Cleremont County Airport (I69; rwy. 3,566 ft.; elev. 843 ft.), headquarters of the famed pilot supply business. The gated airpark community, celebrating its tenth year, has one dozen lots on just over 12 acres, with homes currently on four of them. Home prices begin at just over $500,000. Property landscaping has been refreshed during the past year. With its location in the middle of the eastern U.S., "Both Canada and the Caribbean are an easy day's flight," says Sandy's representative Dave Cummings, adding that the airpark's through-the-fence access and easements to the runway "means the airport is likely to be maintained in perpetuity." Plans to extend the runway an additional 1,000 feet are currently underway. Numerous highly rated restaurants and stores, golf, and water sports on the Ohio and Little Miami Rivers and Harsha Lake are all nearby, while Cincinnati offers residents quick access to major sporting events, cultural activities and commercial opportunities.
SILVERWING AT SANDPOINT
Sandpoint, Idaho| silverwingatsandpoint.com
Sandpoint, Idaho, is gateway to a backcountry recreation paradise, and with its through-the-fence access to Sandpoint Airport (KSZT; rwy. 5,501 ft.; elev. 2,131 ft.), SilverWing, founded in 2009, provides the ideal well-appointed airpark headquarters for enjoying this four-season wonderland. Challenges to its TTF arrangement had held up the airpark's development recently, but with the issue resolved the airpark is moving forward again, says developer Michael Milesky. The 44 hangar home lots (three sold) range from the low $200,000s to about $1.67 million. On the airside, a new state-of-the-art FBO facility has been constructed, and Quest Aircraft, Tamarack Aerospace and Life Flight Network are based at the airport. For on-the-ground activities, Milesky ticked off a quick top five of area favorites: "The Selkirk Mountains, the Schweitzer Ski Resort, Lake Pend Oreille, backcountry activities, and backcountry flying." For more civilized pursuits, Sandpoint hosts an annual vintage car show, summer music festival, horse show and winter carnival, and its historic vaudeville theater features many noted entertainers. The town, within walking distance of SilverWing, also has many fine restaurants and shops.
Spruce Creek Fly-In Community
SPRUCE CREEK FLY-IN COMMUNITY
Port Orange, Fla. | fly-in.com
It wasn't the first, but Spruce Creek Fly-In Community (7FL6; rwy. 4,000 ft.; elev. 24 ft.) is the biggest, best known and arguably most realized aero-centric community anywhere. Its sheer size (more than 1,500 households) and residents' deep immersion in aviation (more than a few bold faced aviation names live here) create an atmosphere reminiscent of a '60s-era race car movie, where combustible vapors of excitement seem to hang in the air, ready to ignite at any moment. The community's fleet of some 600 aircraft ranges from ultralights to warbirds and business jets, and nowhere do residents find more excuses to get them into the air. Yet Spruce Creek is also one of the most well-rounded airpark communities, with a variety of organized activities, a country club with golf, tennis and dining, and the attractions of Daytona Beach and the ocean only a few miles away. Meanwhile, the infrastructure is kept in top condition (the runway, and 14 miles of taxiways and half of the 30 miles of Spruce Creek's streets were recently repaved), thanks to reserves for future maintenance funded by property owners. Real estate values remain strong. Less than three percent of housing inventory is typically available, say Lenny and Pat Ohlsson, owners of Fly-In Realty, the firm founded by Bill Slaughter, one of Spruce Creek's original five developers. Prices range from just over $100,000 to just under $3 million.
Sunriver, Ore. | sunriver-resort.com
With the Cascade Mountains as a backdrop, Sunriver Airport (S21; rwy. 5,461 ft.; elev. 4,163 ft.), called "SkyPark" to distinguish it from the rest of the sprawling Sunriver Resort property, is a vibrant airpark enjoying access to all the amenities at this popular year-round destination property, including the four golf courses, horseback riding, more than 40 miles of paved bike trails and pontooning on the Deschutes River. The resort actually has its roots in aviation, conceived as a corporate retreat for companies that utilized private aircraft in their businesses. The airpark has about 30 homesites, says Sunriver rep Whitney Whitehouse, and includes 9 hangar homes and another 14 homes with tie down spots on the ramp. Most residents use Sunriver as a vacation place or for weekend retreats. Aircraft can be housed at Camp Abbot, which has 34 T-hangars and five box hangars, while two new executive hangars are under construction. The hangar homes in the SkyPark range in value from $700,000 to $2 million. Camp Abbot Hangars are around $100,000 to $200,000.