[I:http://www.articledir.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/07/KenRisley1.jpg]Throughout the U.S. there are many airport communities. These are small communities of hangar homes where airplane owners have decided to live near their airplanes and enter the world of aviation in a big way. In my county alone, in Florida, there are at least 6 such communities. They are in almost every state. When the subject comes up I find that many have the same questions. I thought I’d answer a few:
What are Airport Communities?
These are neighborhoods that own and use one or more runways. These runways are often owned and maintained by the community. They can be paved runways or just grass strips.
What are hangar homes?
They are just like any home you have every seen. They come in all shapes and sizes and styles. The one thing they have, however, is a hangar – either separate on the property or attached.
Are the hangar homes themselves different?
Nope. Hangar homes can range from small apartment type homes to large and beautiful mansions. Most are your regular everyday homes. Mine has two bedrooms and a large study – a courtyard, a 2 car garage and a 2000 sqft hangar, attached. I’ve seen homes with many thousands of square feet and others with only 900 to 1100 square feet.
Are there special Codes to follow on Hangar Homes?
No difference. The hangars are usually built to the same standards as a large garage. In many areas if the hangar is greater than 2000 sqft then special commercial type codes kick in. Many folks elect to keep their hangars at 2000 or less for that reason.
How to the airplanes get to the runways?
Some communities have houses along the runways. Some have them on separate streets. Some have both. When a pilot wants to take off, he or she just uses the same streets as the cars to taxi to the runway.
How do the cars and airplanes share the streets?
I’ve never seen a problem. Cars alway get off the street and give way to any passing airplane. This actually does not happen a lot – but when it does it is no problem. The car can always go into someone’s driveway or off the street. It is usually a treat to see a friend pass by in his beloved airplane. Believe me, waving and smiling are always involved.
How noisy can it be at airport Communities?
Usually noise is not a problem. However there may be times when it is noisy. Sometimes one of the folks will invite guests to fly into the neighborhood and you might see hundreds come in and park up and down the runway. These are special days and we always look forward to them. I recommend double glazed glass in the windows. We rarely hear anything.
Do you store things in the hangar besides your airplane?
Of course we do. We are human aren’t we? Stuff accumulates. Like everyone else we always have to be careful not to let it get out of hand.
Are these hangar home eyesores?
I’ve seen very few ugly hangar homes – I’ve seen beautiful hangar homes. I personally think mine and those I have designed are really nice. For instance, on mine, you could not even tell it is a hangar home if you only drove by the front. The hangar has been cleverly integrated with the home to loose that hangar effect. Like any home, you will find them of all kinds of aesthetics.
How about towers. Do they have these control towers at hangar home communities?
I have never seen one that had a tower. I there are any, they are very rare. Most airports in the United States are uncontrolled. There is a standard way that pilots use these airports with very high safety. Airport communities are usually not officially controlled by a tower.
What types of folks live at these communities?
You will not find a more diverse group of individuals than you will at an Airport Community. The folks here are from every walk of life, every conceivable profession, every political persuasion, every age. The common thread is their love for aviation.
How big are the homes and how big are the hangars?
I’ve seen sizes ranging form puny to huge. I’ve seen hangars from spaces a bit bigger than a car garage all the way to gigantic 4000 plus square foot structures.
How expensive are airplanes to own and to fly?
They can be expensive- but not always. Jet airplanes are rare in airport communities. John Travolta is a well known exception – but most folks have small airplanes. Mine costs about the same as a SUV to run – about 14 miles to the gallon. But I am going much, much faster and have no stop lights?
I hear that Travolta has a hangar home in an Airport Community. Do you know him?
Yes, he lives in a flying community of his own. There are several other homes where he lives. Actually it is only a few miles from my home. I have met him, yes – he seemed like a great fellow. He was curious how long the runways are in my neighborhood. That is pretty important, I guess, to him since he flies bigger equipments. I actually wasn’t sure, my wife had to answer.
I’ve found that most pilots have heard of these places. Many have likely thought it pretty expensive. But you will find, if you research it, that it can be an amazingly affordable lifestyle. It is really a matter of researching what is out there and learning a bit about the types of homes you can buy or build. Once you have decided to do this, you will likely find many resources of help and advise. It is, indeed, a lifestyle like no other. You’ll make friends like never before.