This article is courtesy of a recent interview with Nomadic Pilot, a long time Member at Topretirements. His retirement story is pretty interesting, we hope you enjoy it.
November 11, 2018 –
TopRetirements: We understand you are a pilot. Could you tell us a little bit about your flying life?
Nomadic Pilot: I’ve been a ‘recreational’ pilot since 1983. We use the airplane for weekend fun or family trips. My current plane is my third – a Cessna Turbo 210, preceded by a Piper Arrow II and a Cessna 172. I hold private single-engine-land (SEL) and single engine-sea (SES) certificates along with an instrument rating. The 210 is a fabulous cross country airplane. I purchased it in 1998 when we were living in southern CA. While there we used it for trips to Palm Springs, Sedona, Eureka, Napa, Seattle, Spokane and Fort Collins to name a few. We used the plane quite a bit to fly to college towns in the west when our son was evaluating colleges. We’ve also used it to fly to the annual Experimental Aircraft Association fly-ins at Oshkosh. My son and I have also used it to fly Angel Flight missions – mostly to bring less fortunate kids to burn victim or hearing impaired camps or to fly patients in need of treatment from distant places. While in VA we’ve made a few trips to Florida and fly to NJ to visit family. Our favorite trip – probably Sedona AZ. Outside of flights in our owned aircraft, I enjoy flights in most anything. For my 70th, my son and wife recently treated me to an hour of stick time in a beautiful P-51 Mustang, located at Kissimmee. Wow. As you can tell I’m an aviation enthusiast and advocate. I came close to opening a Light Sport pilot training center with a fellow pilot/partner. We put the brakes on this as we watched the economy slide in 2007/8.
TR: Will you keep flying in retirement?
NP: I’ve been retired for a little over a year and I’m purposely re-directing my flying activities. I’m in the process of selling my 210 with the objective of replacing it with a classic Cessna 195. The 195 will be a fun airplane to take to fly-ins and will still support long cross-country flights as our retirement travel opportunities present themselves. Here’s a link that will take you to pictures of these great airplanes.
TR: Where do you live now? Do you have interests in other activities besides flying?
NP: My wife and I currently live in a nice club community in Spotsylvania VA. It’s about a 35 minute drive from where we live to the airport where I hangar my plane. I took a job in the Fredericksburg area in 2004 (height of the housing boom before the bubble burst) and had 90 days to relocate from SoCal. Our home met all of our requirements.
I left open the possibility that I might someday find a way to play golf, even though I realize golf communities can be expensive to operate and I wonder about how these communities will survive as boomers lose interest in the sport or can no longer play due to health issues. Maybe when I’m 80 and can no longer fly? Read on!
TR: Are you planning on moving now that you are retired?
NP: Fourteen years after our move to Virginia we have started to explore downsizing and other communities. We’ve been looking at other communities in and out of VA – some mixed age communities, some age targeted and some 55+. And also residential airparks just for grins. In just about every case we’ve returned with the impression that we’d simply be taking what we now have and moving it to another geographical location. We’ve investigated St James Plantation, several communities in the Wilmington NC area and several in VA – and more to come as we look at Old Trail Village in Crozet VA near Charlottesville.
TR: Tell us about what you have found out about the airpark communities you have explored.
NP: There are three airparks that I have visited. Dogwood is ‘right up the street’ from our current location. Two weeks ago or so, while we were in the Kissimmee area we visited Leeward Air Ranch (Ocala area) and Massey Airpark – north of Daytona. I’ve also communicated with the owners/operators/or realtors at Heaven’s Landing (GA), Big South Fork (TN), and Spruce Creek Fly-In Community (FL).
Each have different personalities, amenities, services and cost structures. I would be mistaken to paint residential airpark life with a broad brush based on these limited visits/communications. I do know Dogwood better than the others I’ve visited. This is a nice airpark in an almost ideal location with very friendly neighbors. Several of the residents take advantage of their hangar co-location to build their own (experimental) aircraft. It’s a very supportive aviation community. But past the opportunity to live with your plane, there aren’t the amenities you’d find in a club community (pool, fitness center, community center), although there is a YMCA near-by. Leeward had a community center and had planned gatherings/fly-ins during the year, and Massey is basically a nice place to live with your plane. At the opposite end of the spectrum there is Spruce Creek (which I have yet to visit), which is very large and has many amenities including a championship golf course, restaurant, and country club. Aside from the expense (not to mention the hot/humid summers) this one would be my ideal setup.
The challenge that comes with moving to one of these communities with more amenities is the need to step up to high real estate taxes and HOA fees, not to mention the insurance costs that go along with hurricane high risk areas. This might be easier for pilots who live in high tax areas in the northeast, perhaps not so easy for others.
TR: What do you think it would be like to live in an airpark community?
NP: For the aviation enthusiast family, there’s nothing like having your plane next to your house in its own hangar. Note here that I said the enthusiast family. My wife has always been a willing passenger – but has never aspired to become a pilot, much less a pinch-hitter. Moving to an airpark lacking the amenities of a club community is a non-starter for her. Now, add to this the reality of my recent birthday – I just turned 70. So to your question about where will be living at age 80… well, will I still be flying then? That’s my plan, but you never really know. If not, how tough will it be to sell an airpark property? IMHO these are the dynamics that everyone interested in living with their plane should explore carefully. Here’s a link to some information about airparks (you can also use Advanced Search at Topretirements to find the 16 or so communities we have listed in this category). There’s another site titled Living With Your Plane that allows you to search for airparks by state.
TR: So what is your current flight plan – do you think you and your wife will “land” in an airpark community?
NP: At this point we will continue to explore our options, but it’s looking more and more like we will stay put for now and enjoy more travel and snow-birding vs. a relocation to anywhere with all of the associated costs. But at 80, I don’t expect to be in our current home. Like you, I think we’ll be in a one level condo in (central?) Florida. Maybe it will be near a golf course if I’m no longer flying ? We stayed in a VRBO 3 BR condo when we visited the Orlando area two weeks ago and it was very nice. The only thing it lacked was a garage. We’ll be poking around again in that area in January.
TR: Thanks so much Nomadic Pilot. We loved going for a virtual ride as co-pilot on your retirement adventure tale. Good luck to you and your wife.
Comments? Please share your comments about NP’s retirement search. Are you a pilot and have you considered living in an airpark. Do you have a different hobby or passion that has communities dedicated to it. We look forward to your experiences.
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