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Fabled fly-in delights

Sunshine, smiles greet Triple Tree Fly-In attendees

The annual fly-in at Triple Tree Aerodrome in South Carolina is unlike other aviation events, built around a 7,000-foot grass runway with about 400 acres on which to socialize.

Sunrise arrival. A Bellanca Super Decathlon lands on the 7,000-foot grass runway during the sixteenth annual Triple Tree Fly-In. Photo by Kollin Stagnito.

One of the most frequently asked questions about the 16-year-old annual event, held this year from September 18 through 24 at the Triple Tree Aerodrome in Woodruff, South Carolina, is, “Can I land my airplane on the grass runway?” The answer is almost invariably, “yes!”

The 7,000-by-400-foot runway—believed to be the longest grass runway in the United States—is so smooth and perfectly mowed that aircraft of all varieties flew in this year ranging from Piper Cubs to Cessna 172s, Cirrus SR22s, Pilatus PC–12s, a North American P–51 Mustang, a Douglas DC–3, and many more interesting and unique airplanes.

Triple Tree is an altogether different kind of fly-in, where flying, socializing, camping, and eating rule. Attendees gather in pockets across the sprawling 400-acre facility to watch endless takeoffs, landings, and flybys. Each night homemade meals are served at the Main Hangar, and afterward attendees drift off to campsites and RVs to share hangar stories late into the night.

“Another banner year, over 600 airplanes with over 1500 operations,” said Robb Williams, Triple Tree Aerodrome executive director. “During that week we were not only one of the busiest airports in South Carolina, but we were equivalent to Cleveland International Airport. We had guests come from 34 states and 9 foreign countries.”

A Taste of Triple Tree. Behind the Main Hangar, attendees mingle and enjoy the week’s most anticipated nightly group dinner, which includes more than 20 food sampling stations. Photo by Kollin Stagnito. The late Richard McSpadden (left), senior vice president of the AOPA Air Safety Institute, provided fly-in attendees an AOPA update and then awarded 'Uncle John' Hartness (center) an AOPA Presidential Citation, 'in spirit of his 100th birthday, for demonstrating a true passion for growing general aviation, especially among aspiring young aviators.' Triple Tree founder Pat Hartness (right) thanked Uncle John for his support in helping make the Triple Tree Aerodrome one of the premier destinations in the country. Photo by Kollin Stagnito. Photo by Kollin Stagnito. More than 600 aircraft flew in for the event, and hundreds of attendees camped next to their airplanes. Photo by Kollin Stagnito. Triple Tree Fly-In attendees flock to the ultimate viewing area under the World War II-era control tower. This hilltop perch affords the best views of the many takeoffs, landings, and flybys during the fly-in. Photo by Kollin Stagnito. The AOPA Oasis hospitality tent at the Triple Tree Fly-In provided a shaded area for attendees to watch college football, connect with free Wi-Fi, and use AOPA Weather and iFlightPlanner for AOPA on dedicated computer stations. Photo by Kim Trischman.

Mark your calendars for next year’s event: September 23 through 29. AOPA plans to return with the Oasis hospitality tent so we can swap tall tales and root for our favorite college football teams next to one of our favorite grass strips.

Alyssa J. Miller

Kollin Stagnito

Senior Vice President of Media and Marketing
Senior Vice President of Media and Marketing Kollin Stagnito is a commercial pilot, advanced and instrument ground instructor and a certificated remote pilot. He owns a 1947 Cessna 140.
Topics: Events, Fly-in

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