Pilots all have their favorite airports, for any number of reasons including the fun that’s awaiting once they arrive. When a friend asked me the other day which airports were my favorites, I made a list. So, in no particular order…
I’ll start with the island airports, which I always enjoy: Put-in-Bay, Ohio (3W2); Mackinac Island, Michigan (KMCD); Hilton Head, South Carolina (KHXD); St. Simons, Georgia (KSSI) for the beauty, remoteness and feeling of exclusivity reaching them by airplane. I would put Nantucket, Massachusetts (KACK), on that list in the Northeast, and that list could go on forever it seems. I’d have to mention the southernmost point in the Continental US, Key West, Florida (KEYW). Flying the Keys is a thrilling experience with unforgettable views.
Accomack County (KMFV), would be my choice for views of Chesapeake Bay. Head south from Accomack to soak in the natural, unspoiled beauty and wildlife of Virginia’s barrier islands. The Chesapeake Bay Bridge lies ahead and eventually vanishes into a tunnel. While you can’t land there, Oceana NAS (KNTU) is sure to provide a glimpse of some Navy fighters.
Oshkosh, WI (KOSH), has been exciting aviation crowds for years with the biggest air show in the world. There’s something magical about bringing hundreds of thousands of aviation fans together every summer.
There is Bar Harbor, Maine, for access to Acadia National Park and some of New England’s best seafood (KBHB).
I’m a fan of the pristine northwest Florida beaches, which extend into Alabama. These airports have gorgeous ocean-view arrivals: Northwest Florida Beaches (KECP); Destin, Florida (KDST); and Gulf Shores, Alabama (Jack Edwards, KJKA). If you time it right, you can catch the Blue Angels practicing at their base in Pensacola NAS (KNPA).
Although subject to many restrictions and special operating procedures, pilots can still complete the training and receive approval to have general aviation access into the College Park (Maryland) Airport in the heart of Washington, DC (KCGS).
I have to mention Kitty Hawk (First Flight Airport, KFFA) for the historic value. You can park and walk to the Wright Brothers monument.
Niagara Falls airport (KAIG) has breathtaking views of the Falls.
For Michigan fans, it doesn’t get any better than summer in Traverse City (Cherry Capital, KTVC).
For the adventurous international traveler, you can’t go wrong with the Bahamas: North Eleuthera (MYEH), Stella Maris (MYLS), George Town (MYEG). Going further south, I love Turks and Caicos, Provo/Grace Bay (MBPV) and, of course, the island of Nevis (Republic of Nevis and St. Kitts), TKPN.
Looking west, for the Hollywood glamour and to mingle with some of the highest valued corporate jets on the planet, Van Nuys (KVNY) is a pilot’s treat and also subject of the One Six Right movie produced in 2005. While under fire and threat of closure currently, Santa Monica provides the unique perspective of landing in the middle of the LA metro area (KSMO).
Aspen (KASE), Telluride (KTEX), Eagle/Vail (KEGE) have some allure to pilots given the challenging altitude and weather in addition to accessing some of the country’s best ski country.
I could probably keep going. It was a welcome stroll in my mind imagining these places. So what are your favorites? What airport should be on this list of pilots’ favorites?