Plane & Pilot
Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Plane Living

Finding a residential airpark that’s right for you

plane livingWhat’s an aircraft owner’s definition of a “housing crisis”? Owning a home that’s too far from the airport. Fortuntately, there’s never been a better time to develop a rescue plan.
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plane livingWhat’s an aircraft owner’s definition of a “housing crisis”? Owning a home that’s too far from the airport. Fortunately, there’s never been a better time to develop a rescue plan. The number and variety of residential airparks have grown in recent years, and the slowdown in the economy makes for good deals on airpark lots and homes. But don’t expect fire-sale prices; residential airpark property values are reportedly holding up well.

“Knock on wood, we really have not seen any slowdown,” says Marc Shubb, marketing director of Perfect Landing Airpark in Cedarcreek, Mo., echoing comments made by developers and real-estate agents nationwide. “We’re selling as if there was no recession or depression.”

plane living
Mountain Air Country Club in Burnsville, N.C., features 500 homesites nestled atop the Blue Ridge Mountains.
Dave Sclair, founder of Living With Your Plane (, a residential airpark registry and information clearinghouse, says several factors drive interest in the residential airpark lifestyle. “Number one is security; people want to know who’s near their airplane,” Sclair says. “The other is purely financial: At a public airport in a metro area, the hangar fee is considerable, and the tiedown fee is considerable too. So why not take that money and put it toward a mortgage and property?”

More than 600 residential airparks are listed in Living With Your Plane’s registry, and Sclair estimates that the total number could be closer to 800. Loosely defined as an airport with two or more homes with runway access, residential airparks range from no-frills developments with a turf runway to upscale communities boasting instrument approaches, spas, equestrian facilities, lavish clubhouses and multimillion dollar homes. This means prospective residents have a good chance of finding an airpark perfectly suited to their wants and needs. But the expanded options can increase the workload when it comes to evaluating the choices. Here are key factors to keep in mind when shopping for a residential airpark homesite or house.

Location, Location, Location
Once confined to the Sunbelt, residential airparks are now found in every state except Hawaii and Rhode Island. Consider the area’s climate and seasonal changes. You may find that the cool mountain air you enjoy during your summer visits turns unbearably cold in the winter. Or maybe the warmth you found rejuvenating on your last winter trip to Florida becomes oppressively steamy in the summer.

plane living
Heaven’s Landing in Clayton, Ga., is located in the Blue Ridge Mountains of northeast Georgia and is surrounded by national forest land.
Project Runway
The runway is the heart of a residential airpark. Control, ownership and responsibility for maintaining the runway—and access to it—can vary. At some airparks, an owners’ association is the controlling authority. At others, the developer retains control; some airparks offer no guarantee for the runway’s ongoing existence. Check deed restrictions carefully to ensure the runway and its access have secure futures.

Aviation Services
If you just fly around the patch in VFR conditions and maintain your own airplane, you probably don’t need much in the way of on-field support. But if you fly in all conditions, instrument approaches, a fuel farm and a maintenance facility may be critical. Factor these needs into your deliberations.

The Covenants, Conditions & Restrictions (CC&Rs) document spells out community rules. The covenant covers items that can include minimum size of homes, architectural guidelines and prohibited activities. Prospective buyers need to carefully review and understand the CC&R to avoid unpleasant surprises after purchase.

Beyond Aviation

Believe it or not, there’s more to life than aviation. An airpark must provide more than access to the air in order to create a satisfying lifestyle. Fortunately many airparks offer a wealth of activities, either on-site or nearby. But don’t just look for an airpark with activities you enjoy: Consider access to shopping, schools and medical facilities.


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