We managed to get away for a few days to St. Simons Island, on the southeast Georgia coast. St. Simons is located about an hour south of Savannah by auto. Our flight from Leesburg to KSSI in the A36 was just under an hour.
St. Simons has a long, colorful history. It was explored by Hernando DeSoto in the 1500’s, and the first settlements were Spanish missions set up in an attempt to convert local native Indians tribes to Christianity.
In 1794, live oak hardwoods were timbered from the surrounding area to build the USS Constitution, also known as Old Ironsides.
Construction on the Malcolm B. McKinnon Airport was started during the depths of the depression in 1935, and it opened for business in May of 1938. During the depression, money was hard to come by, but Glynn County leaders envisioned that an airport would help this seaside town with tourism. The airport was built with Works Progress Administration funds, some donated, and some purchased parcels of land.
I don’t know how many pilots flew into KSSI during the 1930’s, but the ramp was packed with business jets this past weekend. In fact, the kerosene-burners far outnumbered piston singles and twins on the ramp.
In 1942 the airport was converted to a Civil Air Patrol base to search for enemy submarines off the US coast during WWII. Later it was converted a US Naval Air Station and Navy Radar and Training School (NRTS), until it reverted back to Glynn County as a civilian airport in 1947.
The best known hotel in St. Simons is the King and Prince Golf Resort, just a few blocks from the city village and pier. The K&P resort was first built in 1935, but was burned down twice, most likely of arson. It was rebuilt again in 1941, but housed the military during WWII. It has been through several renovations and expansions since, and is the nicest resort on the island.
St. Simons is a very quiet and relaxing place to go. The island is covered with bike paths and golf courses. Moss-filled oak trees overhang the roads, and most of the homes are bungalow style. Just off the beach, pods of porpoises chased schools of bait-fish. And the seafood at the local restaurants was awesome.