Fields of Dreams: Saved but not immune from the times

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As pilots now of a “certain” age, we look back on airports that were part of our lives.  This is the second post in a series of three. There’s nowhere like Van Sant Airfield in Pennsylvania’s historic Bucks County. Fifty miles north and decades away from big-city Philadelphia, Van Sant salves my soul with old airplanes, grass runways, classy surroundings and Colonial history. Today’s realities haven’t over-flown Van Sant, however.

Things got quieter in recent years. Van Sant family heirs decided to sell. In 2003, the county stepped in with $3 million to preserve 9N1 as the Bucks County Aeronautical Park. Air operations were saved, while development-threatened land was spared. Neighbors (both the noise- and the growth-sensitive), Van Sant heirs and fliers alike were satisfied.

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Fields of Dreams: Not its ‘old self,’ but going strong

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As pilots now of a “certain” age, we look back on airports that were part of our lives. This is the third of a three-part series.

“Recession? What recession?” So said Mike Gilbert, Gold Seal CFI for Aviation Adventures at Leesburg Municipal (excuse me, Executive) Airport. Yep, they changed the name and, perhaps, for good reason. “JYO” is a successful non-towered GA airport in affluent, fast-growing Loudoun County, Virginia, 35 miles northwest of the nation’s capital. [Read more…]

Fields of Dreams: Dreams have changed

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As pilots of a “certain” age, we look back on airports that were part of our lives. This series starts with three. My first was a little grass field in New Jersey. Twin Pine was down home, midway between the state capital and Princeton, the college town. I started as line boy there in ’65. Ten hours of runway mowing got me one hour dual in a ‘46 Taylorcraft, just like a thousand other line boys and future pilots.

It was great: 2,600 feet of grass flanked by broken-down hangars. Even more colorful was the owner’s trove of junk planes and military surplus. A Culver Cadet was always to be rebuilt “this winter.” A Korean War H-5 helicopter appeared one day (just like Mickey Rooney’s egg-beater in “Bridges at Toko-Ri.”) What was THAT for? Decades later I did a video there for BE A PILOT, threatening that if we don’t do more to promote flying, all of GA will look like this! That day, owner Bill Weisner and his cronies were still sitting around a ramshackle office — and the Korean War H-5 was still outside, untouched for 36 years.

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