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Things to see east of the Rockies?

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  • Things to see east of the Rockies?

    I've received a green light, ok more like yellow, for a trip east next summer. Only things on the list are a stop at Harford Co, Maryland, some undetermined historical sights, the Hudson river corridor (if I equip with ADS-B) and maybe Niagra Falls.

    So what cool things to I need to take my kids to see?

    I'd like to mostly camp so I'm looking for small airports that allow camping. I can't find a flight planning aid that lists things like camping and it seems like Airnav isn't used much anymore, there are few current "reviews", so if you have a favorite planning aide that would be helpful too. I need to find places we can camp and also know the plane will be safe if we leave it for a few days.

    When and for how long haven't been defined but we are thinking early summer and maybe 4 weeks.
    Last edited by whee; 11-02-2019, 10:23 AM.
    Scratch Built 4-place Bearhawk. Continental IO-360, 88” C203 McCauley prop.

  • #2
    There is North Fox Island in Lake Michigan. Its a 3000' grass strip....the island is not habited, I think its State Forrest. The airport is owned by the DNR, leased to the Recreational Aviation Foundation, has no services, no shelter, no cell phone service. It will probably be my first camping trip when the Patrol is ready to fly. IF you are looking for rustic, thats it. If you are looking for a island trip with more people, look into Mackinac Island near the straights, or in Lake Erie's Put In Bay. But those two dont have camping. Well, I saw a tent in the woods on Mackinac, but what do they call that.....Stealth Camping. Don't get caught.
    Brooks Cone
    Southeast Michigan
    Patrol #303, Kit build


    • #3
      Drop a line to Minnesota Department of Transportation Aeronautics asking for an Airport Directory and Travel Guide. Tells of nearby attractions, camping, courtesy and rental cars, underwing camping allowed or not (free at a majority of MN airports), etc. I'd guess some other states may be similar.


      • #4
        A flight to First Flight NC has been on my bucket since visiting there 6 or 7 years ago.
        You could also stop at Minden NE for a visit to Pioneer Village.
        While there I would gladly let you work on the LSA for a day or two!


        • sbmurphey
          sbmurphey commented
          Editing a comment
          Yes, First Flight is worth the stop

      • #5
        A few of them are already in this thread... you have to see First Flight in the Outer Banks. I don't know if Manteo (Dare County Regional - KMQI) still allows camping; I seem to remember hearing years ago that they did. They're a stone's throw away from KFFA. Despite living in this area now, I can't say a whole lot about local flights... I moved here right around the time we starting having kids. I've done FFA and do recommend, and could probably give a few other local endorsements if you're interested. If you land in Newport News (KPHF), say hello - I live just under the pattern for runway 7/25.

        I highly recommend seeing Niagara Falls from the air. We did it in 2010 on a return from Oshkosh when we were still living in the Boston area. My wife got some amazing pictures. Read up on the special flight rules, though, and be aware that clouds like to form right around where you want to fly. There's a lot of moisture in the air there!

        We went on several fun day trips up in the Boston area. Minute Man Airfiled in Stow, MA (6B6) is a great spot, and is close to the Collings Foundation's American Heritage Museum. I don't know if they allow camping, but it may be worth a call... it's definitely the most small-GA-friendly airport around Boston.

        We always enjoyed hitting spots along the Cape. We flew quite often into Martha's Vineyard for breakfast, but if you're looking for a grass strip on the island, Katama Airpart (1B2) will suit you. Give them a call and see if they allow camping, or if it's nearby. The place I rented from didn't allow us to land at grass strips, so I can't give a PIREP on Katama.

        I got grass flying fix and my tailwheel endorsement at the Hampton Airfield (7B3), a nice grass strip just north of MA/NH border. Again, don't know about camping, but it is (or at least was) a small, family run grass strip that could probably be worth a phone call. If you can get into the town of Seabrook (just to the south), you can try competing lobster joints on the NH side (Brown's) or MA side (Markey's) of route 286. The NH side is BYOB; Markey's doesn't allow BYOB (MA laws) but will sell you beer. Try them both!

        Speaking of Lobster, if you're in the Northeast, the Lobster Festival in Rockland, ME is pretty hard to beat (Google says 7/29-8/2 in 2020, so not long after Oshkosh). The airport (KRKD, Knox County) also hosts the Owl's Head Transportation Museum. Again, I can't say anything about camping, but it may be worth a call.

        Greenville, ME is the home of the Seaplane Pilot's Association splash-in every year. I don't know if they normally allow camping, but they certainly do during the splash-in. The airport (3B1) is pretty close to town, though probably not what you want to walk. Again, probably worth a call to see if they'll let you camp. Mooshead lake is beautiful; I highly recommend.

        I took my wife to the Rangeley Lake seaplane (M57) base a few times when I was flying floatplanes from Twitchell's (3B5). That was gorgeous country in the summer and early fall. Twitchell's has both a grass and hard-surfaced strip, and may allow you to camp (though, with the new owners, aren't currently renting landplanes and floatplanes - probably not an issue for you). Rangeley has an airport - Bean (8B0) - I've never been to anything other than the seaplane base but I thought Rangeley and the surrounding lakes made for some nice flying.

        If you want to make about 10 touch-and-goes without turning crosswind leg (and that's assuming you climb to a couple hundred feet), check out Plattsburgh, NY. It's an old SAC base - there aren't too many untowered fields with an 11,759 ft runway! You could probably take off sideways across the 200' wide runway. It's also right on Lake Champlain, so it's a pretty nice spot. We rented a car and spent a day by the lake. I'd imagine there is nearby camping, if they won't let you do it on the field. In general, that area of New York/Vermont is gorgeous... though you won't quite see the peaks you're used to out West!

        The Hudson River corridor is a lot of fun, but I recommend doing it just above the exclusion area, if they still allow it. We never had any problems flying just at the bottom of the Class B airspace (just above the exclusion area), as long as you're nice and competent on the radios (the NY controllers will turn on you in a "New York minute" if you start hosing things up). The nice thing about flying through the Class B is that you can negotiate a little more sightseeing. We'd let them know that's what we wanted to do in advance - down the Hudson, turn near the Statue of Liberty, up the East River, across Central Park, and then back up the Hudson to get out of their area. It worked a decade ago, and we got some amazing pictures.

        Boston also allows a similar city tour, though there is no exclusion area. You call the tower before you fly, and say you want the city tour. They'll give you the Boston helicopter frequency, and depending on how traffic is landing at Logan, you may get all the way down the Charles to Boston Harbor. It was part of my first-passenger-experience - a city tour with an escape to the south for breakfast/lunch at some place on Cape Cod or Martha's Vineyard/Nantucket. Man I loved flying around there.

        Have fun! I'm jealous already!
        4-Place Model 'B' Serial 1529B (with many years to go...)


        • #6
          If you are flying the Hudson corridor, also stop at Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome to see WW1 aviation in action. Sunday air shows start June 21 next year. Worth the visit even if you can't catch the air show, great museum. I agree with the suggestion for Cape Cod and the Maine coast. Mt Rushmore is spectacular from the air as is Devils tower in Wyoming.


          • #7
            Stop in at Tangier Island in the middle of the Chesapeake Bay for crab cakes and a walking tour of the historically unique community. There are many airports in Virginia with restaurants on the field. There is a good-ole-boy public grass airport at the south end of the Eastern Shore of Virginia near Cape Charles. Check out “Fun Places to Fly” (I think) on the Web for each state for other ideas. If you make it to Georgia, see Stone Mtn State Park, Jekyll Island, Calloway Gardens, Savannah, Okefenokee Swamp. You are welcome to stop by W13; we can put you up for the night and perhaps find you an empty hangar. Of course, Guru Bob himself resides and conducts business on a grass strip about a 30 minute flight from here.


            • #8
              I'm late to the game, but I will second visiting Tangier Island (Chesapeake Bay), First Flight on the outer banks, and Mackinac Island. I will be eagerly reading everyone else's recommendations for my own future use.

              And I am obligated to recommend you stop in Dayton OH, home of the National Museum of the USAF which, in my humble opinion, gives the Smithsonian a run for its money. Oh, I live there too and would be glad to provide logistical assistance and a hot meal. Not sure about camping here, but Moraine Airpark (I73) would be your best bet, and is also where the Wright Brothers tested the world's first seaplane. My house or back yard are additional lodging options.

              For camping specifically, I highly recommend Rough River State Park Airport in KY. Lots to do right around the airport, and it's specifically a place where you can camp under your wing, eat at the restaurant, swim, water sports, etc.

              Not sure how far south you're going, but I grew up in the mountains of NC and I frequently saw folks camping at the cliff end of 57NC. It's a mostly abandoned airport but still usable and I have permission from the owner to use it myself. I would be glad to reach out and see if they are ok with camping. No amenities, but lots to do in the area--hiking, tubing, whitewater rafting, train rides, etc. And it's right next to the gorgeous Great Smokey Mountain National Park, the largest undeveloped area in the East.



              • #9
                Thanks guys! Lots of great info that will take me some time to sort through. I really appreciate it.

                None aviation sights are definitely welcome too. My kids are little so get bored pretty easy; swimming holes, whitewater, hikes, etc are their game. They enjoy the occasional museum if it's a good one. They also want to see some American History sights so I've been googling Revoulitionary and Civil war sites.
                Scratch Built 4-place Bearhawk. Continental IO-360, 88” C203 McCauley prop.


                • #10
                  I'm not sure where about you'll be cross the boring midwest, but I would certainly second Mount Rushmore and add the South Dakota Badlands.

                  If you're passing further south into the Nebraska area, you'll get into the Sandhills. The Sandhills are the largest dune formation in the Western Hemisphere, now mostly stabilized by grass. This region has been largely unaffected by man and has a population density of less than 1 person per square mile. A westerner won't find anything unique about that, except the land is mostly privately owned. There's not much for services and places to stop, but if you find yourself in southern Cherry county (largest beef producing county in the US), I'd love if you and your family had time to visit. Our ranch does not have an established airstrip, but that may not bother you. A nearby neighbor has a nice grass strip and he'd certainly let you land and camp if you gave him a call ahead of time. You can find his info on His strip is No ID 190, the Mundorf Ranch strip.

                  If you pass further south, the Platte River is a textbook example of a braided river. I know people sometimes land on the nice sandy beaches of Lake Mcconaughy when it's low. I've never done this and I'm unsure of the legality of it, but when it's low there's over 100 miles of nice sandy beaches. I'm sure you could find a long deserted stretch where you could stop to swim/play/hike/whatever.

                  I'd love to hear more about your trip as it develops, and hit me up if you stop in northwest/central or southeast Nebraska! (I have a bit of a split residence)
                  Colby Osborn
                  Mullen/Lincoln Nebraska
                  Model 5 Quick Build Kit


                  • #11
                    Little Big Horn Battle Field. A great place to stop and hike over the battlefield


                    • #12
                      There's several good bits of American History a stone's throw away from where I live. Yorktown, VA is the site of the surrender of Cornwallis at the end of the Revolutionary War. It is currently the home of the American Revolution Museum... I haven't been in a while, but it's a nice piece of history. The Mariner's Museum in Newport News, VA is a very cool place, and admission is only $1. They have a really cool battle of the ironclads exhibit, and they are currently restoring the turret from the Monitor that was recovered off the coast of North Carolina. (The Monitor and Merrimack [CSS Virginia] fought their famous battle a few miles away in The Battle of Hampton Roads.) Fort Monroe in Hampton, VA has a lot of Civil War history as well. We also are home to NASA Langley Research Center, the first NACA center that originally opened in 1917, and initial training site for the Mercury 7. All of this is reasonably accessible from KPHF.

                      Williamsburg-Jamestown airport (KJGG) will get you pretty close to, well, Williamsburg and Jamestown. Plenty to do and see around there. Besides the Jamestown settlement and Colonial Williamsburg, the Williamsburg Winery is very close to the airport and has a good winery tour and a nice hotel, if you can find someplace to send the kids. Busch Gardens is just down the road if they want to get their roller coaster fix...

                      In terms of hikes, I always enjoyed a couple of the day hikes in the Shenandoah National Forest. Eagles Nest in Waynesboro (W13) is probably your closest airport.
                      4-Place Model 'B' Serial 1529B (with many years to go...)


                      • #13
                        Come to New England. We can show you around mountains, coast, backyard strips, island strips and along the coast. ...we'll take you and the kids hiking too!


                        • #14
                          To date some of my favorite trips have been in the mountains around Mt Mitchell and hunting waterfalls along the NC/SC border. (E.g. Upper and Lower White Water Falls above lake Jocassee) KLQK is south of this area and has awesome staff + a car for a trip to town for food.

                          The outer banks and KFFA (Previously mentioned but, I'll vote for them again +1) My wife has a soft spot for light houses and hunting them as you fly the cost is fun.

                          BQ1 - Stop in for local BBQ and see the p-40 in central NC.

                          09J - Jekyll Island GA is one of our favorite weekend trips. You can spend as much or as little money/time as you want. On a budget, you can camp in the state park or grab a red bug ride to one of the local hotels or restaurants. Walk or rent bikes and explore the island. Do the night geocaches through the swamp.(Only if you dare.... But, it is so worth it. High water, spiders, gators, and all in the dark to the cashe of the three witch's eyes!) See where the French and English empires clashed leaving a few historical hints of occupation by both superpowers of yesteryear. There is the old town district to explore with a few shops or find a isolate beach and watch the sun rise and set..... It's an island so take your pick. Which way do you want to look? Large portions of the area has been preserved with limited development of commercial and residential areas.

                          Cruising the Charleston harbor is a good flight too. It is a port of early colonial settlement, it withstood two English attacks during the revolutionary war before being captured on the third assault by 14,000 troops and 90 ships. It was also the site that sparked the start of the war of northern aggression, and Ft. Sumter, Ft. Moultrie stand clearly viable marking that history. Then there is all the port traffic, two light houses, the Wando bridge, the USS Yorktown(carrier), USS Laffey(destroyer) and USS Clamagore(sub) tucked in at Patriots Point. All together, it is one of those sights that make me reflect a little as I fly over.

                          The wiki for aviation museums on airports has many locations that might fit into your rout. It has been a number of years, but I use to spend some time is KS when I lived in the Tulsa area. The Combat Pilot Museum was one I always enjoyed stopping for and it impressed me considering it was as a small local museum at KFOE.Still miss being able to pick up Mexican food and fried tortilla chips at Enrique's on the Ponca City airport - KPNC in Oklahoma. We use to go up to KIDP - Independence KS to do pattern work just to drool at the new planes parked on the Cessna ramp. H04-Offers access to an arch built over the Will Rogers turnpike that houses a McDonald..... 3o9 - was our favorite 4th of July base as you could get in early, grab a burger or pizza from the airport store and orbit Grand lake for an evening of spectacular fireworks.

                          If you end up near the midlands of South Carolina, feel free to stop in here. PM me for details. The Bearhawk family is welcome.
                          Stephen B. Murphey
                          Bearhawk LSA
                          Building #L-089


                          • #15
                            Thanks again guys! I`m making notes, looking things up and slowly developing a rough plan. I sincerely appreciate the ideas and offers made.
                            Scratch Built 4-place Bearhawk. Continental IO-360, 88” C203 McCauley prop.