LIVING ON AN AIRPARK by Joy Barrow

John Travolta

I was most surprised to find out that many people choose to live on an airfield.  Just recently I heard from Keith Gordon about his new lifestyle in America and closer to home from Rob Loneregan who is building a house on a sports aviation airfield in Australia.  John Travolta owns his own airpark in Florida and has a Qantas Boeing 707 in his yard.  He has been an ambassador for Qantas for many yearsRumour has it that when John finishes restoring the Boeing he will fly it to Australia.

This is Keith Gordon’s Story:    Recently my wife and I sold our house in Florida and went to live on an airfield.  I am Australian and was a flight engineer with Qantas for many years. The airpark where I have recently taken up residence is called Cannon Creek Airpark, which gets its name from the US Civil War.

AIRPARK LIFE by Keith Gordon

I had always wanted to live in an airpark since seeing one at Rainbow Beach (Cooloola Village Airpark), about 150 miles (250 km) north of Brisbane when returning from a stay at Frazer Island.

Of course, many things get in the way of life’s plans and it wasn’t until retirement approached that I started to seriously think about it. By then, I was a long way from Rainbow Beach or Wederburn, southwest of Sydney. I was now living in Florida. My wife’s family all live in the Jacksonville area in northeast Florida, so she wanted to be close but not live in Jacksonville. We toured all of Florida and southern Georgia looking at airparks. One thing that became important was the close proximity to shopping. We found that in Cannon Creek, only about 2 miles (3 km) to the mall and supermarkets.

What is life like in an airpark? Well the saying “birds of a feather flock together” usually means it makes it easier to strike up a conversation and often find other common interests, particularly for the non-aviation partner. Obviously, one of the family has to have an intense interest in aviation, and the other(s) have to be able to live with that.

Owning an aeroplane or building one has to be an important factor, however not all residents do own or build them; they just have the interest in aviation or fine machines. Many of our residents have antique or classic car and or motor cycle collections. This is where hangars are important. Not only are they used to store aeroplanes, but some of these other collections, which may extend to antiques or art. Hangars are also popular with boat and motorhome owners. The other interests also breed many social outlets, such as cooking and preparing for social events. Our people fly out for breakfasts at other airfields and airparks. Others fly away to factory tours, sporting events, airshows, museums or a total eclipse of the sun. My wife belongs to a craft group, others play golf at the adjacent course and we have  tennis courts on another adjacent property.

Keith’s Plane Under Construction

The majority of residents either own planes or are currently building them. The aeroplane owners and builders have a tool library, with a wide variety of obscure tools that may be required occasionally.

The Experimental Aircraft Association Chapter (EAA) hold monthly meetings with a special interest presentation and they also hold a monthly aviation movie night. About once per quarter we offer aeroplane flights to local youths called “Young Eagles”. I participate in entertaining them with a discussion on aviation topics while they wait for their ride.

Aircraft Hangar With Plane At The Ready On The Runway

There are 90 houses, most with a hangar, on lots averaging  about one acre in size. The prime lots have direct access to the runways. Our lot is in a small subdivision which requires us to taxi planes on the road. Planes have right-of-way and an interesting feature is that the street name signs are only about 30 inches tall so that low-wing aircraft can pass over the signs.

We have a commercial airport about 5 miles away with a control tower and automatic weather reporting. Self-control is used to advise your intentions at our airpark. Our subdivision, called Southern Landings, has 29 lots and we have a Homeowners Association and fees to maintain the roads and common property. We have annual runway fees for upkeep and grass mowing, insurance and other costs. We do have to pay property tax to the city to cover services they supply, such as schools and emergency services.

Typical view from an airpark lounge room

The cafe and restaurant are a good way to meet up with other residents.  It is great to mix with friendly like-minded people and there is a very positive attitude to life and of course people who can help with both daily living and aircraft advice.  

Houses are very comfortable and most comprise of a large lounge and dining room, a state of the art kitchen, a guest room and bathroom, main bedroom and ensuite and of course apart from a garage for cars there is a substantial hangar of 3,500 sq.ft. with a loft area and a hydraulic lift.  House prices average at US$1,000,000.

(for further information google: Canon Creek Airpark Florida)

footnote:  I must say that after reading Keith’s story and seeing the videos of Canon Creek Aipark I am motivated to make a visit. Not so sure about permanent residency but who knows!

Rob Loneregan at Rylstone Airpark

Rob Loneregan is currently building a house at Rylstone Aerodrome Airpark, a three hour drive from Sydney. Rob describes the airpark as a rural lifestyle opportunity  which was established by aviators for the purpose of building a viable long term rural aviation community where like minded people can share their passion for dancing in the sky.

Some owners live in comfortable mezzanine lofts and share the hangar with their planes.  Others build houses and hangars on separate blocks of land.  It is also possible to rent a hangar and live off site.  There are excellent facilities including a cosy club house with log fire, eco friendly self composting toilets, solar systems with battery storage, Telstra and Optus mobile reception, roads are sealed and of course the ability to take off outside your own hangar and enjoy the birds eye view of a magnificent rural landscape.

Nearby the historic village of Rylstone offers pubs, cafes, restaurants and a convenience store.  Golf courses, tennis courts, a council swimming pool, pubs and country markets are all within a short drive from the airpark.  Mudgee is a forty five minute drive and has a commercial airport, shopping facilities and wine tours are a popular tourist attraction.

The cost of a house and land package at the airpark is approximately A$600,000 and the hangars can be bought or leased .  Visit www.rylstoneaerodrome.com.au for further information.

There are many airparks spread across Australia