An airpark for everone: Upgrades to Liwing With Plane website highlight the variety of fly-in communities

We’ve been working for quite a while now developing an upgrade to the Living With Your Plane website. It’s not ready yet, but we’re getting a lot closer.

One of the new primary features of the improved website is a map with pins showing airparks — or, as some people refer to them, fly-in communities. When you move your mouse over a pin, a window will open giving you basic information about the airpark. You’ll be able to enlarge the map so you can focus in on a specific state or area within a state, as well as foreign countries, since we have a growing number of international locations now offering residential airparks. Once you’ve checked the basic data on an airpark, you’ll be able to obtain more detailed information.

As I’ve worked to develop the information needed to get the airparks onto the map accurately, I’ve looked at a lot of facilities as seen from space on Google’s mapping program. It has been an extremely interesting experience, to say the least.

The majority of the airparks I’ve looked at using these space views have been very clear. Often I’ve been able to make out an airplane, to make sure I’ve found the airpark. What has intrigued me is what I already knew from speaking with hundreds of people over the years but hadn’t seen to such an extent — the wide variety of airparks around the country.

Many of the fly-in communities are nothing more than a grass strip with some turnoffs onto private lots. At other projects you can plainly see an extensive runway network, paved taxiways and streets. Many of the homes in the south have swimming pools in the yards and other amenities on the properties. There are a lot of fly-in communities out there with 20, 30 or many more lots. The bigger they are, the more amenities are available, obviously.

In addition to looking at airparks via the view from Google Earth, I’ve checked out many more airparks at their own websites. In fact, I’ve added 130 fly-in community website links to the Living With Your Plane website. That provides a great opportunity for people to get a pretty good check on airparks before they ever leave the comfort of their own homes.

While the directory of residential airparks is a very important aspect of the Living With Your Plane website, it’s not the only big feature that we’ve developed and are working to upgrade. Our blog has become a big opportunity for us to share information among folks interested in airparks. It’s not unusual for someone to contact us with an idea or a question and in the next blog we share that comment with all our subscribers and other readers. In short order the information is distributed and questions are answered.

This exercise in working on the airpark data has reinforced my thinking that there’s a fly-in community out there for everyone interested in living on an airpark. It doesn’t matter what your financial means might be, the type aircraft you fly (or want to obtain) or the region of the country in which you are interested in living. You can find a fly-in community that fits your needs everywhere.

Currently our directory lists more than 600 airparks (612 to be exact as of Jan. 21, 2008) with 11 of them in Canada or other foreign countries. That includes about 15 that are currently under development.

Those projects offer a special situation. On the one hand you can get in on the ground floor, choose a lot before they are picked over, and even help to make sure the rules are written properly and everything is done properly. Of course, there’s also a downside to looking at airparks in construction. The developer may not be able to get them finished. You must make sure any deposit made for a lot is deposited into a proper account so if things go wrong you can get your money back.

After following fly-in communities for the last 30 years, this exercise of checking out airparks all over the country has made me even more interested and excited in this movement. It’s made me appreciate the efforts many folks have gone to in making these communities the positive aviation entities that they really are.

You don’t have to base your plane on a major city airport and fight the government agencies and other woes. You can live with your plane in pleasant surroundings with great neighbors.

Check us out at LivingWithYourPlane.com. Remember, though, this isn’t our final version of the website. Updates and improvements are coming.

Dave Sclair was co-publisher of GAN from 1970-2000. He also is co-founder of Living With Your Plane.

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