Best Kept Secrets: North Carolina
Story and photo by Linda Sue Boehmer
Flying from a land locked air strip to a beach is among my favorite missions that pilots can perform. Nothing is more magical than flying over the ocean and landing near sand! Apparently, our military brothers and sisters agree, since we often share coastline airspace with them. It may be fantasy on my part, but I tell people I think a fighter once had me in his sights along the Outer Banks of North Carolina!
It is no secret that the general population has a good chance to witness military aircraft performing maneuvers in the North Carolina skies. It may be less well known that the more remote Outer Banks beaches are an excellent place to look for such antics. Check the water for pods of dolphins dancing, then look up for aerial entertainment, including dogfights and refueling. Recently, my travels took me to Hatteras Island, North Carolina, where I was delighted to watch an Osprey doing vertical landings at Billy Mitchell (HSE) field. They are always photogenic and were there long enough to draw an appreciative audience, many with cameras. As the only pilot in the crowd, I tried to keep the onlookers away from the runway, hoping to witness a tilt-rotor transition to horizontal flight. I was not successful (pedestrians are more difficult to herd than wildlife) but we all enjoyed the VTOL show. Maybe next time! I have also seen an Osprey at Ocracoke Island, W95.
I came upon a reference to "Operation: Fly NC," which offers prizes for visiting airports in the state. I am investigating the North Carolina program and will report on it.
Post Script, Maryland's Best Kept Secrets:
Since my last adventure, a whole folder of information arrived in the mail from the "Explore Maryland by Air" people. The Passport they sent has a serial number stamped in the front. Included in the folder is a list of airports and where to find someone to stamp your Passport or where to find a self-serve stamp at unattended airstrips. I went directly to Garrett County Airport, G24, a favorite of mine, to get my first official stamp. If you do not have the time or the weather to get away to the beach, a scenic lake airport, such as this one, with Deep Creek Lake under the pattern, is a wonderful choice for a mini-vacation!