Finding the grass in Mount Dora

It had to be here somewhere. I was hunting a small grass strip south of pretty Mount Dora, Florida, as my search for a retirement town continued. Aside from its growing reputation as a new Florida “cultural capital” and great weekend outing from Orlando, Mount Dora had two or three grass airstrips on its map.

I inquired at Orlando-Apopka Airport about nearby Potter Airfield, where a nice L-16 had been restored years ago. However, the “X” on the wall-mounted Sectional presaged disappointment. The young guys at First Landings Aviation told me Potter closed when the area started growing houses, not crops to dust. I left, complimenting their new PiperSport Cruiser for rent. It had been first in the nation on a rental line, they said.

Up US 441 and Jones Road was X61. Yep, there are the hangars. There’s the wind sock. Where’s the entrance? I guess they figure any pilot worth his salt will 1) divine the way in, then 2) plow uninvited down the dirt road through the farm towards the airport. I resolved to ask forgiveness (rather than permission) and plowed ahead. Yep, here was Bob White Field.

The guys at Southern Aviation Services were rebuilding a Piper Cub in an old tin hangar. An Aeronca stood outside hoping for maintenance. My kind of place. The “SAS guys” swear there’s a sign at the entrance. “OX-5” it supposedly reads. That would be clever aero-code for pilots… if they locate the sign. I didn’t.

I returned the next day to catch two happy people taxiing a Cub past the shade hangars for a jaunt around the Harris Chain of Lakes. (There are seven of them.) They waved. I waved. I shouted “GA News.” They gave big thumbs-up and happily S-turned on. What a Cub can do for people on a bright Saturday morning!

They say there’s an L-4 in those hangars for sale but it hasn’t flown lately. Regardless, my quest was fulfilled: A Florida yet unscathed by growth, some big inland lakes for sailing, a quaint but happening downtown scene and a grass strip with some life left in it. It’s definitely on the list!

Photo and story © Drew Steketee 2010 All Rights Reserved

Comments

  1. I am based at Bob White (X61)and all of us there consider ourselves fortunate to have such a beautiful place to fly from.

    There is an annual fly-in at the end of October.

  2. Kevin D Murphy says:

    What a GREAT story about life at little airports! I’ll have to put OX-5 on my own “retirement list.”

  3. Neal Palmquist says:

    Yes Bob White Field is a wonderful little Airport I flew into there with my T-Crate NC43849 back in the Late 70′s to a Florida Antique and Classic Association Fly-In. At the time the Semi Modern outhouse with a plumbed toilet and shallow well water had quite a sulpher oder. Some one with a twisted sense of humor had put a Large Yellow sign over it read “Caution HOT GASES”…It was April and the Zellwood Corn had just been harvested and grilled over the open coals it was oh so GOOD!.
    My Wife and I helped hang the Wings on an OLD Stinson 10 that day. We camped the night and were awakened by the “Sun Rise Dawn Patrol” of an Alexander Eagle Rock with a Kinner, a couple of Waco’s with Wright J5′s
    a Travel Air 2000 and others…I’m glad to here the place is still around.

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