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Florida club hosts annual vintage conveyance celebration

Editor's note: This story was updated December 8 to correct the reported length of a runway. AOPA regrets the error.

Ocean Reef Club in Key Largo, Florida, welcomed members and registered attendees to its four-day celebration of classic aircraft, automobiles, and yachts at its one-of-a-kind oceanside resort.

  • Attendees admire the Lockheed P-38 'White 33’ at Ocean Reef Club’s Vintage Weekend in Key Largo, Florida. Photo by Niki Britton.
  • A North American AT–6 Texan puts on an aerial display for attendees on the beach at Ocean Reef Club in Key Largo, Florida. Photo by Niki Britton.
  • A Cessna CitationJet takes off from Ocean Reef Club’s private airstrip in Key Largo, Florida. Photo by Niki Britton.
  • Aeroshell Aerobatic Team members perform their famous night airshow for attendees on the beach at Ocean Reef Club’s Vintage Weekend in Key Largo, Florida. Photo by Niki Britton.
  • Aeroshell Aerobatic Team members perform their famous night airshow for attendees on the beach at Ocean Reef Club’s Vintage Weekend in Key Largo, Florida. Photo by Niki Britton.
  • Families watch a North American AT-6 Texan put on an aerial display off the coast at Ocean Reef Club in Key Largo, Florida. Photo by Niki Britton.
  • A North American T-6 Texan puts on an aerial display for Vintage Weekend attendees on the beach at Ocean Reef Club in Key Largo, Florida. Photo by Niki Britton.
  • A member of the Aeroshell Aerobatic Team lands at Ocean Reef Club’s private airstrip after an airshow at Ocean Reef Club’s Vintage Weekend in Key Largo, Florida. Photo by Niki Britton.
  • Aeroshell Aerobatic Team’s Bryan Regan taxis to park after the airshow at Ocean Reef Club’s Vintage Weekend in Key Largo, Florida. Photo by Niki Britton.
  • Kids wait for Aeroshell Aerobatic Team pilot Jimmy Fordham as he refuels his North American AT-6 Texan at Ocean Reef Club’s Vintage Weekend in Key Largo, Florida. Photo by Niki Britton.
  • General aviation aircraft tied down at the private airstrip at Ocean Reef Club in Key Largo, Florida. Photo by Niki Britton.
  • Attendees gather to hear Patty Wagstaff talk about her career and aircraft at Ocean Reef Club’s Vintage Weekend in Key Largo, Florida. Photo by Niki Britton.
  • Attendees talk and enjoy the Grumman F7F Tigercat at Ocean Reef Club’s Vintage Weekend in Key Largo, Florida. Photo by Niki Britton.
  • Pilot Ralphie Stowe poses next to her 1966 Chevrolet Corvair on display at Ocean Reef Club’s Vintage Weekend in Key Largo, Florida. Photo by Niki Britton.
  • Three classic Chevrolet Corvettes sit on display at Ocean Reef Club’s Vintage Weekend in Key Largo, Florida. Photo by Niki Britton.
  • Attendees check out vehicles on display at Ocean Reef Club’s Vintage Weekend in Key Largo, Florida. Photo by Niki Britton.
  • Interior of a rare Ferrari Dino 246 GTS on display at Ocean Reef Club‘s Vintage Weekend December 1 through 4 in Key Largo, Florida. Photo by Niki Britton.

Ocean Reef Club, a members-only community, boasts its own private 4,500-foot runway; private marina; two private championship 18-hole golf courses; and a multitude of dining, shopping, and lifestyle amenities across its expansive 2,500-acre grounds.

The club’s annual Vintage Weekend, which took place December 1 to 4, provided a wonderland of rare and eye-catching antique aircraft, aerial entertainment, a Concours d’Elegance drive-by, and yacht viewing. The event also radiated a sense of community that was palpable as family and friends gathered to enjoy the epic weekend.

Perhaps the most captivating part of the weekend were the day and night aerobatic displays by the Aeroshell Aerobatic Team, Patty Wagstaff, a North American AT–6 Texan from Race 90 Honda Generators racing team, two rare Grumman F7F Tigercats, and a Lockheed P–38 Lightning. All of this could be enjoyed by attendees from the comfort and beauty of Ocean Reef’s private beach on Buccaneer Island, and members who made the short trek to ”The Point” got an even more spectacular view of the airshow taking place just off the coast.

Following the oceanside airshow luncheon on Saturday, attendees trundled in their golf carts to the private airfield to get an up-close and personal look at the aircraft and a meet-and-greet with their stewards and pilots.

Ocean Reef Club resident, pilot, and chairman of the National Museum of World War II Aviation Jim Slattery, as well as the museum’s president and CEO, Bill Klaers, brought the P–38 Lightning White 33 and the two F7F Tigercats for their Vintage Weekend debut all the way from Colorado Springs, Colorado.

White 33, the only flying P–38 in the world with a combat record, drew a large crowd as attendees were regaled with the stories of the aircraft’s incredible history, including the downing of two Japanese Mitsubishi A6M Zero aircraft in 1942. The aircraft was dug out of the ground in New Guinea in the 1990s and restored by WestPac Restorations, co-owned by Klaers.

Lenny Sikora, who has enjoyed coordinating the aviation side of Vintage Weekend for the last 15 years, has been responsible for bringing most of the aviation entertainment to the event. Sikora said he and other members of the Vintage Weekend Committee work hand in hand with the FAA and participating aviators to provide the safest and best experience for attendees year after year.

On the other side of the resort, Vintage Weekend automobile exhibitors Ralphie and Mike Stowe, both pilots, came to Vintage Weekend to show several of their classic vehicles, including their yellow 1966 Chevrolet Corvair that to date has less than 3,000 miles on it. Ralphie explained that she and her husband don’t fly much anymore, but love that Vintage Weekend provides them the opportunity to celebrate both of their passions by combining classic cars and airplanes all in one place.

While Ocean Reef Club is private, nonmembers are welcome to purchase tickets to attend future Vintage Weekends. Those interested can learn more at the club’s website.

Niki Britton

eMedia Content Producer
eMedia Content Producer Niki Britton joined AOPA in 2021. She is a private pilot who enjoys flying her 1969 Cessna 182 and taking aerial photographs.
Topics: Airshow, U.S. Travel

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