Friday, February 1, 2008

Spruce Creek has no Spruces

Flew to Spruce Creek, Florida ( 7FL6 ), which is an airpark on a former base. It's large enough to support two real estate offices, a restaurant, an FBO, a helicopter service place and an airplane maintenance shop on field. Blatant plug: Check Spruce Creek Realty Out! They're very, very cool people - Pat and Lenny Ohlsson are great folks!

On the other hand, the radio died as we flew in. That was not nearly so cool. In fact, as Daytona Beach Approach became weak and scratchy, in that time in which we were in clouds and I could still hear them but they couldn't hear me, was not cool at all. It was a warm sort of mild "aaaaugh!" even after we broke out of the clouds.

The weather briefer was promptly contacted via cell phone on the ground, to let the poor controller know we were down, safe, at our intended destination, and ThankYouVeryMuch for her help!

Lenny Ohlsson still managed to get my American Yankee Association checkout in, which was very cool, and taught me a whole lot about the airframe's strengths and weak points, what to look for and what to utterly enjoy. It's always a delight to fly with good pilots, and he seemed to really enjoy being up in the AA-1B. In his hands, instead of worrying about no radio, I learned instead on how to fly NoRDO - a lot more emphasis on see and avoid, and on anticipating what other people are going to do, and on being visible and predictable.

He also loaded the dead radio onto his golf cart, and we went over to a radio repairman on field. I watched Lenny and my brother crowd in close as the faceplate came off and the cause of death determined - but I myself had my lap securely pinned down by a purring feline who looked quite determined that I should stay and scritch its ears.

We went very carefully VFR back, keeping well clear of restricted areas and Orlando's Disney's Don't Ruin The Experience "Temporary Flight Restriction" that's been in place since they got it politically leveraged in after 9/11/01.

I really, really like communicating - so no flying the plane til the radio is repaired, and reinstalled.

On the other hand, today I went up in Valdosta Flying Service's Cessna 172 SP model. After the supercub and the '73 Grumman, an '01 model Cessna is pure luxury, with an almost overwhelming amount of bells and whistles. With a friendly, helpful CFI, I shot the VOR, GPS, and ILS approaches into Valdosta, and put enough work on holding patterns and maneuvering under the foggles to be capable, if artless, at them. so, 2.3 hours of flying and another 2.2 of ground (and probably an extra hour of comparing "I've always wanted to fly in Alaska" with flying down here, and shooting down the tv-inspired theory that grizzly attacks are common and unpredictable.)

So now what? Well, with my own plane in "broken" status but freshly reviewed on all IFR flying, I'm going to be available for safety-pilot flying. People still working on getting their instrument rating need to have a pilot sitting next to them keeping an eye out for traffic, towers, and providing a situational awareness while they have blinders on to prevent from seeing outside. Another pilot who'll do it without charging is far better while practicing than paying a CFI for all that time, so I'm going to be up with a couple folks over the next week, helping them toward their ratings.

Really, no matter how freshly reviewed I am, tonight and tomorrow I get to spend plenty of time hitting the books. There's a vast difference between being able to slide through the system functionally and knowing the system thoroughly - and people in training will need real answers and explanations to questions. "You learn thoroughly by teaching" indeed!


  1. here's the Spruce Creek Fly-in:

  2. Nested in Northeast Florida, a few miles south of Daytona Beach and NASCAR's epicenter, the Daytona International Speedway, lies one of the most unique residential communities in the world.

    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.

    Please keep in mind that any visits are by invitation only, as the community is not open to the public. If you are interested in Spruce Creek Real Estate, contact the folks at Karlhaus Realty for an invitation and they will happily schedule a guided tour: Spruce Creek Real Estate.