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, LivingWithYourPlane.com, 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.