Different Places

Greenville was cool and foggy this morning, then suddenly brilliant clear. We hopped in Flash and headed South, curious whether things might be different. They are! Crossing into Georgia, we opened the air vents for the first time since leaving San Diego. It's hot! Not just the fact it's in the 80s, but especially the humidity. Attracted by the Halloween-ish name, we decided to make our first stop in Jekyll Island, GA. I was startled to see masts moving behind the trees lining the runway, and realized it wasn't a pirate schooner but a shrimp boat.

On the other side was a sweet little airport office with a long row of golf carts parked outside next to the aircraft parking. Inside was air conditioned, and our trip almost ended there.
As you've guessed though, we soon got our courage back and braved the humid heat. I can assure you, our first order of business was to get the "fan" running!

Our next stop was in Spruce Creek, FL for my FAA medical certificate. Now we've seen a few airports, and they're all different. The one in Jekyll with its shrimp boats and golf carts was more different than most. But the one in Spruce Creek easily out-differents them all. It's not just a runway, nor does it have the typical few aircraft hangars and a fuel pump. No, this is an entire small town for pilots and their planes. We taxied along one of the main "streets" with car lanes on both sides of us and all the typical resources of a small town just beyond the car lanes. Say you need cash - just taxi up to the bank. In my case, we taxied up to the doctor's office. I guess the closest thing I can think of is the typical movie western town, where hombres ride up to a business and tie their horse outside. If this place were in Santa Barbara, we'd wish we could afford one of the many houses that also connect via taxiway to the runway. The humid heat helped us taxi past the real estate signs.

It was fun knowing that every person we saw on the "street" loves to fly, and is completely comfortable with the idea of an airplane moving down the middle of their main drag as another plane turns into a "driveway." As we took off, I looked back smiling at how these people have built their lives, businesses, homes and swimming pools around their flying. Oh, and after the doctor had taken care of me, he hopped into his Piper Cub to join his buddies flying in formation.

As we passed Cape Kennedy, having missed the news I wondered if the new NASA rocket might still be there. I guess it had recently left one of the launch pads we saw. There's an airport nearby that people fly to for watching launches, and it got me thinking again about whether there's something similar near Edwards where people fly to watch the rare west coast shuttle landings.

Nearing our final destination of Melbourne, FL we were struck by another difference about this part of the country: lots of water housing. That is, small lakes and canals are built into subdivisions so that many homes have some sort of waterfront.

So tomorrow I'll look into getting Flash her routine oil transfusion, and we'll go exploring the area with our sweet hosts who absolutely love the different life they have here. Their car and home have excellent air conditioning.


Nancy Oster said...

Do you know anything about the history of Spruce Creek? Like how it evolved into a town where people taxi around in their airplanes?

John said...

Started out as a military base apparently. Sure is heaven for pilots! Here's a link to lots of info:

John said...

Oops, that didn't seem to come out as an active link you can just click to see the Spruce Creek page. Maybe this will work:

Here's another link too:

Nancy Oster said...


Nancy said...

Wow, this brought to mind something I haven't remembered in years. My friend Deanna in Alaska - her dad Earl has a bright red little historic airplane in this old hangar in Livermore, and is friends with all these other old guys who have their little airplanes in this hangar. It's just an old hangar, doesn't look like anything special at all, but it turns out that all these guys LIVE in the hangar with their airplanes! They each have a sofa and hot plate off to one side in their stalls or whatever you call them, and sleep on the sofa, wake up and make coffee on the hot plate, and they're ready to go.

Of course this is on a completely different economic scale than what you saw here on your trip! But it is a really sweet memory that you brought back to me, of these old guys who love their airplanes so much that, like in what you wrote here, they have designed their whole lives around their love of flying.

Thank you for bringing me back this fond memory. It was so beautiful to wake up early in the morning in a sleeping bag under a wing of Earl's red airplane, chill in the air and mist from our mouths when we spoke, and have all these old "airplane rats" come over to Earl's hangar bringing their coffee in the early morning, all of them happy to see us and so willing to share their interesting lives with us.

Thanks for the memory!