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'A great old time field' is for sale'A great old time field' is for sale

A snapshot of what we love about general aviation was captured in a pilot’s remembrance of a 2010 visit to the Marlboro, Massachusetts, airport and the welcome received from Bob Stetson, the late airport manager.

Aerial of Marlboro, Massachusetts, airport. Photo courtesy of Dudley Darling.

“Got a ride up in a Kitfox to pick up a car at a local dealer,” the pilot posted in the member comments section of the airport’s online listing in AOPA Airports. “Did a go round the first attempt on 13. Second attempt was good with a stop at about half way. Bob Stetson was a hoot. He called me a cab and said if you can't land here you'd better go practice with your flight instructor. What a great old time field.”

For the record, Marlboro Airport’s runway is 14/32, not 13/31, as the pilot noted in a follow-up comment. Let’s add that Runway 14/32 is 1,659 feet short, which likely explains the go-around on that first landing attempt by the transient pilot.

If the overall feeling of fun, friendship, and freedom exuded by the post makes you think that this would be the kind of airport to own, if you ever were to own an airport, you might want to look into this one.

It seems likely that someone will focus a buyer’s eye on Marlboro Airport soon. Whether the interested party will have aviation use in mind for the property located just west of Boston’s Class B airspace is anybody’s guess now that owner Sandra Stetson has found it necessary to offer the property for sale.

“While she wants to see it remain an airport, the economics of it may force her to open the sale up to non-aviation developers,” said Christine Pulliam, AOPA’s Airport Support Network volunteer at Marlboro.

Bob and Sandra Stetson acquired Marlboro Airport in 1999. Stetson, an engineer, pilot, and lifelong aviation enthusiast who mentored high school students in aircraft design, died in 2012 at age 66. In an area newspaper report, a local elected official remembered him as “quirky and fun” and an advocate for the community. Somewhere out there, that Kitfox pilot would likely concur.

The airport has other boasts worth preserving. Marlboro stakes a claim to a footnote in the history of aviation in the Bay State as its oldest continuously operating commercial field, according to the website of Norby Aviation, a based flight instruction business “dedicated to the joy and freedom of personal flight.”

Decades ago, enthusiasm for flying the old machines brought a group of local pilots together as the Marlboro Antiquers—a tradition continued by Chapter 673 of the Experimental Aircraft Association.

The airport’s several dozen based aircraft include Pipers and Aeroncas that find the runway length extremely comfortable—absolutely no sweat to land every time “with a stop at about half way.”

There’s a rotorcraft operation, MetroWest Helicopters, and an FBO, Don’s Flying Service, at Marlboro.

Marlboro Airport “harkens back to the good old days of flying for the fun of it,” says Pulliam, who rents airplanes from Norby Aviation when she wants to fly. “The main concern is to possibly find a buyer who wants to keep it as an airport, because that’s something that all of us would like to see happen.”

The owner requests that interested parties contact real estate representative Stefan T. Frey at Commonwealth Commercial Advisors (617/596-7833) for more information.

Dan Namowitz

Dan Namowitz

Associate Editor Web
Associate Editor Web Dan Namowitz has been writing for AOPA in a variety of capacities since 1991. He has been a flight instructor since 1990 and is a 30-year AOPA member.
Topics: Airport, Pilots, US Travel

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