I am fortunate enough to fly the Bonanza out of a modern airport. At my home base, there are two crossing runways of 5,000 feet or more, multiple GPS approaches, inexpensive 100LL self-serve avgas, a friendly ATC tower, and excellent maintenance shops. What could be missing?
My airport exists within in a very efficient and sterile environment. There are lots of corporate aircraft and jets, but I rarely see my hangar-row mates. There are no social activities or hangar parties, unlike the days when I was learning to fly out of X04, Orlando Country Airport.
Even with all its benefits, part of me wishes my airport had the “soul” of Bob White Field, X61. Bob White is a 3,300′ pristine grass strip about 30 miles northwest of Orlando, nestled among farms and country homes. It serves as home for many tail draggers, warbirds, experimental aircraft and home-built. X61 offers no fancy hangars, ATC towers or instrument approaches, but it has a history, lots of aviation supporters and many stories to tell.
Last weekend was the 23rd annual Fall fly-in and barbecue at Bob White Field. The fly-in is always the last Saturday of October, and while it’s open to anyone, you only know about it by word of mouth. This year, over 80 aircraft from all over Central Florida, and at least 200 people were in attendance. Many of the same aircraft and pilots that flew into to the Bob White Flyin 2010 also participated this year.
The grass was freshly mowed and the temperatures were in the low 70’s, with a slight breeze out of the northwest.
The aircraft were vintage, some being built in the 30’s and 40’s. There were Luscombes, Piper Pacers, Aeronicas, Stinsons and Stearmans. Most of the pilots flying them were “vintage” as well. There were more than a few retired airline captains in attendance. One distinguished gentlemen started his career flying ag planes in the 40’s and retired in the 80’s, having flown just about every piston and jet aircraft in the National Airlines livery.
Many of the aircraft on display at Bob White have been restored and were in pristine flying condition. Most had no radios, or came with the original panel and tube-type avionics they left the factory with. No glass panels here!
For a $7 donation, we feasted on grilled hamburgers, jumbo hot dogs, homemade potato salad and chili, and an array of deserts that I suspect had many pilots re-running weight and balance calculations before departure.