Airparks & GA: International interest in U.S. airparks highlights strength of GA here

Dave Sclair was co-publisher of General Aviation News from 1970-2000 and is the co-founder of Living With Your Plane

Recently I received an interesting note from an individual in Europe. He had watched an EAA-sponsored webinar on residential airparks and was really wanting to find one in the U.S. to which he could move. He has already decided that he prefers Florida. He indicated he had looked at advertisements for Leeward Air Ranch in Florida. The grass runway was OK with him, but now he was obviously looking for someone to make the final decision for him … or at least weed down his options dramatically.

Interestingly, he mentioned that probably only he could make the choice, but he still wanted some assistance.

Wow! I can’t even imagine getting into the middle of such a decision for an investment that obviously is tremendous financially and socially. That’s not even considering the role my wife would have in such a decision … of course, I didn’t learn if this individual was married or single, so perhaps that doesn’t count in the equation.

My suggestion was for him to go to our website,, and look at all the links to residential airparks in Florida and at least check them out in that manner. I also suggested that he needs to use our guidelines for selecting the right residential airpark even when looking at websites.

I explained that by using the airparks’ websites he can probably weed things down to a handful and then he could come to the states and visit each of them.

One thing that I should have pointed out is that there are a lot of other residential airparks in the southeastern United States that he should also consider. I’ve nothing against Florida, but he needs to check out some other states, too.

The interesting part of this discussion is the primary point: A European gentleman looking for a residential airpark in the United States. There are some residential airparks in Europe, but they are few and far between and those available don’t offer the great variety of choices found in the US. Most of the European airparks I’ve received information on are probably designed for and seek upperclass folks … spell that the very, very rich.

In the United States, there are airparks in virtually every region of the country ranging from very modest to extremely high end. To me this illustrates the fact that Americans still have a wide range of options in general aviation and virtually all other aspects of life, despite the recent economic problems we’ve been experiencing.

And, it also indicates that despite all the problems we like to talk about here in the states, people from all over the world still want to come here. We complain about regulations and onerous FAA activity, but when compared with the over-the-top requirements in most other countries of the world, we’ve still got it pretty darn good. Heck, there are a lot of countries where general aviation can’t even be enjoyed by the average person. And, when it comes to fees, no one is charging us — yet — for filing a flight plan or using ATC during a flight.

I don’t hear of a lot of Americans going to France or Japan or Russia to get a pilot certificate, but flight schools here get lots of international students. Even though everyone bitches about much it costs to get a rating in the states, foreign residents consider it a bargain here.

Getting back to the individual asking for help in choosing a residential airpark, I hope he checks out a lot of residential airparks, comes over and selects one and purchases the property. I think someone making a conscious effort to move from Europe to the U.S. so he can live on a residential airpark is going to be a solid supporter of general aviation here because he has seen how much better it is than anywhere else.

Slightly changing the subject, I’ll be at the AOPA Aviation Summit next month but, for the first time in more than 10 years, I won’t be doing a program on residential airparks. As a matter of fact, there won’t be any program on this growing and exciting aspect of general aviation. AOPA officials said they wanted to try some different programs this year and didn’t have room for the subject.

So, even though I won’t have a regular forum this year, I will have a lot more time available to visit with anyone interested in the subject. I’ll be in the General Aviation News booth whenever the exhibit hall is open and I’ll bring copies of our guidelines for selecting a residential airpark and other materials. Come on over and visit.


  1. says

    Attention California Pilots!
    Defeat the aviator-hater politicians!

    We must make examples of them or more airports will be forever CLOSED!

    Senator Barbara Boxer led the fight to prevent civilian re-use at Hamilton AFB.

    Treasurer candidate Mimi Walters led the fight to prevent civilian re-use at El Toro MCAS.

    To learn more details, please visit:

  2. says

    I live at Eagles Nest Aerodrome and Seaplane base in North Central Florida. I also market and sell airpark property in Central Florida. It is quite the decision narrowing down the airpark that best suites an individuals needs, but they seem to always be able to decide based on the feeling that they get when the right community is visited. With as many communities as we have available it takes a lot of time to visit and rule out certain areas and communities based on what is available locally. More information on the properties that I represent can be seen at

    Water Landing, Wheels Up,

    Have a Great Day!

    Julie Fetcko

  3. Guy Trigaux says

    Dear Mr. Sclair ,

    We have moved from Belgium to South Carolina in May 2004 and are living at Parker Field ( SC 47 ) , Simpsonville .
    If the European you are talking about want some help about costs , immigration , weather , hospitality , etc … he can contact us . First contact via e-mail . He has the choice between English and French .
    Best regards .
    Guy Trigaux .

  4. says

    Ocala FL is a great place to live.
    I live near Leward Air Ranch.
    Nice grass runway.
    These guys seem to have a lot of fun as they fly about every day.
    A friendly, not upscale kind of place.
    You want upscale, we have Jumbliare just North of Ocala.
    Big paved runway.
    You could join John Travolta and his 707 there.
    Great flying weather almost every day.

  5. says

    Interesting airpark. Check out the World’s largest and most famous airpark: Spruce Creek Fly-In, located in Florida, USA.

    The Spruce Creek Fly-in Community is the world’s most famous residential airpark. With a 4,000 ft lighted runway and a GPS approach, the private airport at the center of the community can accommodate anything from a Stearman to a Gulfstream.

    Originally a navy airfield during WWII, it evolved into the world’s largest residential fly-in community. Today, almost 5,000 residents, 1,300 homes and 700 hangars share a unique life in this private gated village with immaculately groomed homes and common grounds. The first thing a visitor sees after driving through the security gates is a sign that summarizes the spirit of this community: “CAUTION Children and Adults at Play”. Truly a piece of pilot’s heaven.

    A championship golf course and Country Club and 24-hr patrolled security complements the safety, privacy and enjoyment of the residents. Frequent community-wide events and social clubs for most any interest from flying to book reading and gardening ensure a tightly knit and friendly community hard to duplicate anywhere. John Travolta and many other celebrities have enjoyed the Spruce Creek Fly-In lifestyle and privacy. Current home prices vary from a $165,000 condo to several million dollar hangar mansions.

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