An airport campsite developed by members of a Florida aviation community is becoming a popular spot for pilots in search of recreation destinations.
The nonprofit group Friends of Arcadia Airport dedicated more than three years and 450 volunteer hours to making Aviation City, a fly in/camp out center at Arcadia Municipal Airport, ready for visitors—such as the Millennial Wings Flyers, who paid a three-day, two-night call in late February.
“We designed the site to allow aircraft to taxi right onto the campsite and push back under beautiful oaks and pitch a tent,” said George Chase, president of the Friends of Arcadia Airport. “We then raised all the necessary funds to build the pilot shelter, fire pit and other amenities.”
Arcadia became known as Aviation City starting in the 1920s when Carlstrom Field and Dorr Field were established locally as pilot-training facilities after World War I, the group explains on its website. The Friends of Arcadia Airport bestowed the name on their camping facility to preserve the memory and honor the local aviation history.
The young pilots who visited Arcadia between Feb. 26 and 28 were members of Millennial Wings of the Florida Aero Club of Fort Lauderdale. They describe themselves online as “an organization of like-minded Millennials with a serious passion for flight.”
Flying in small groups, the young aviators kept the Arcadia traffic pattern busy during the daytime, and braved unseasonably chilly nighttime temperatures in the mid-40s, Chase said.
Up next on the visitors’ schedule for Aviation City was an early March visit from the Recreational Aviation Foundation—returning after stopping by at the same time last year for an annual rodeo event.
“We have pilots fly in and camp out from all over the U.S. We allow up to a four-night stay,” Chase said. If more than four aircraft are expected, the Friends must get a Special Event permit from the city.
As a support group for Arcadia Airport (located 41 nautical miles east-southeast of Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport) it has been a priority of the Friends to bring growth to the airport, which offers a 3,700-foot-by-75-foot paved runway, a 2,780-by-140-foot unpaved strip, and two GPS instrument approaches.
“This site is proving to be a boon to the airport. We are very proud to have made this possible,” Chase said.