The Rosamond Skypark
is a privately-owned and operated residential skypark located in
Southern California's Antelope Valley (AKA "Aerospace Valley"). Our FAA
designator is L00 (Lima-Zero-Zero) and our airport is open for public use. This website is operated by the Rosamond Skypark Association as a service to our owner/members. We also provide various items of interest to pilots and the general public.
Living at Runway's Edge (LA
There are some folks who wouldn't live
anywhere near an airport. But at air parks, home meets
hangar, and residents can fly away at a moment's notice. And
the noise? It's music to their ears.
Most people would live almost anywhere but near an airport,
but the Carlsons are not annoyed. In fact, they are thrilled
to live not just near the airport but at it.
Their plane is just a stone's throw from their kitchen
window. They live in Rosamond Skypark, a subdivision of
single-family homes and hangars built around a private
Rosamond is on the edge of the Mojave Desert, in southern
Kern County, and within easy commuting distance of Los
Angeles--especially by air. Carlson, an architect,
frequently flies between Rosamond and Whiteman Airport in
Pacoima, where he parks a car and zips to business and
social appointments. The air hop saves him two hours off the
same round trip by car, he says.
Though still unusual, air parks have been around for nearly
six decades. Their appeal has been limited pretty much to
hard-core aviation enthusiasts such as the Carlsons--both
are pilots, and they've collectively logged more than 4,350
hours in the cockpit.
But the number of air parks has begun to climb as commuters
and business travelers look for ways to bypass overcrowded
highways and commercial flights. The trend mirrors a surge
in interest in private aircraft generally and efforts to
develop affordable planes as easy to fly as cars are to
There are about 450 air parks scattered around the U.S.,
according to the Living With Your Plane Assn., based in
Steilacoom, Wash., which maintains a directory of the parks
and publishes a quarterly newsletter.
Some new high-end air parks come with stables, pools, tennis
courts or even golf courses. They are, says one researcher
who has studied them, the "ultimate in gated community
About three or four new air parks are being built
annually; California has 28 air parks--including
the nation's first--and Florida has 78.
"Everything about aviation is explosive and growth is
continuing," says Chuck Arnold, Florida's aviation
administrator. "That's true for air parks too."
Al and Teri Carlson wake up at 5 a.m. each weekday to
the sound of their neighbor flying to work. That's followed
an hour and half later by the sound of their friend across
the street firing up his Cessna and taking off for Los
Angeles. "We can pretty much tell who's flying just by the
sound," says Al Carlson, who lives just 120 feet from the
An Eclectic Mix of Airplane
When you get past their
love of aviation and their tolerance for its noise, it isn't
easy to characterize air park residents.
Some are families with young children, some are retirees,
some have a past connection to the military or to aerospace,
some are business executives who need to go in lots of
different directions quickly, some are pleasure
travelers--heading one week to Alaska, another to Mexico.
Dave Sclair, president of the Living With Your Plane Assn.,
and his wife raised their family in an air park home in
Washington state. ! Both kids are now pilots; their daughter
works for Federal Express.
"It starts from one extreme of people jumping in their
airplane and flying to work ... to those who just fly their
historically accurate collectibles on the weekends," says
Mark Clements, president of the Naper Aero Club and a
resident of Aero Estates, a residential air park in
Naperville, Ill., about 35 miles west of Chicago.
Clements has been living there with his family since 1991.
His house sits on a 1-acre lot and has 2,600 square feet of
living space and a 2,500-square-foot hangar attached.
Across the country, air park homes range from modest
cottages with driveway access to dirt runways to
15,000-square-foot mansions with gargantuan garages or
hangars that hold planes, cars and other big-boy toys.
At Spruce Creek Fly-In in Daytona Beach, Fla., residents
boast that they ar! e just four miles from the beach and
eight miles from a vacation and sports paradise. With more
than 1,500 lots--recently expanded from 1,250--Spruce Creek
is considered one of the premier air parks in the nation.
Among Spruce Creek's former residents is actor John
Travolta. He sold his property in April after residents
complained that his Gulfstream II jet was too noisy.
Travolta has since purchased acreage at
Jumbolair Aviation Estates, just outside Ocala,
developer Jeremy Thayer says.
Jumbolair broke ground in April for a 110-lot development
its promoters call "the Rolls-Royce of air parks." In
addition to the nation's longest, private runway--7,550
feet, enough to land a 747 airliner--the gated development
will include its own country club, a bed-and-breakfast, a
75-stall equestrian center and a gymnasium.
By comparison, Rosamond Skypark is modest. The 60-home park,
established in 1986, is surrounded for miles by tumbleweeds
and Joshua trees--the area is nearly devoid of dining or
On any given day, the sky above Rosamond is crisscrossed
with tufty white airplane trails. A slightly askew painting
on the Carlsons' living room wall is testimony to the
There is so much air traffic here that it is known as
Aerospace Alley. Many of the contrails are from the jets
flying out of nearby Edwards Air Force Base, but some are
from the Piper Cubs, Cessna Cardinals, experimental aircraft
and other privately owned planes flying out of Rosamond
The Rosamond homes, built on half-acre lots, cost from
$225,000 to $400,000 and come with garages and hangars.
There is a monthly upkeep fee of $54 to maintain the runway
and taxiways. The airstrip and other facilities are co-owned
by residents--similar to the way common grounds in a
condominium are owned.!
Typically one new house a year has been added since Rosamond
Skypark opened 15 years ago. Now, says Olaf Landsgaard,
co-owner of commercial property on the airstrip, four homes
are under construction, and resales are snatched up quickly.
First 'Air Ranch'
Had Bad Timing
The nation's first air
park was built in Carmel Valley. It was started by Byington
Ford, a man with a vision that planes would someday be as
popular as cars for everyday transportation.
Ford built his "air ranch" in 1941, timing that proved
unfortunate: He had constructed the first two "hangar homes"
when he opened the air park to the public on Dec. 7--the
same day Pearl Harbor was bombed. Because of security
concerns, all private planes were banned from flying along
th! e West Coast.
The park survived, but even as it celebrates its 60th
anniversary, it is threatened with closure. Although the
aircraft flying in and out must meet FAA standards, the
airstrip itself is governed by state and local governments.
Neighbors of Carmel Valley Vintage Airpark are lobbying
Monterey County officials to shut it down, saying they
consider it a safety hazard.
Paul McKinley runs
, a Web-based home listing service--he's also developing
Cross Country Estates air park in Georgetown, Texas. He says
the complaints about air parks come from neighbors concerned
that small planes are dangerous.
"People that are non-pilots, you can have them sign all
kinds of contracts and agreements that they understand it's
an airport [nearby], but you're still going to end up having
people whose fears of aviation set in after they get moved
in. Then they decide they don't like having that airport
there and want to close it down," he says. "That's a real
problem for a subdivision that's designed as a residential
air park. You see this all over the country."
The FAA doesn't keep track, but air park residents say they
are confident the parks are safe. Says McKinley: "You're at
much greater risk driving down the freeway than you would be
living right underneath the end of a runway."
A Resurgence of
More than 1,100 new
private airstrips have been built in just the last five
years, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.
Those include such common improvements as heliports at
hospitals or as quirky as the landing pad built atop CBS
headquarters in Los Angeles for "Survivor." It's estimated
that at least 10% to 15% of the increase can be attributed
to emerging air parks.
The popularity of small planes soared until the late 1970s
and early 1980s, when the number of private pilots peaked at
more than 800,000, according to Aircraft Owners and Pilots
Assn. spokesman Warren Morningstar. But product liability
issues caused major manufacturers such as Cessna and Piper
to stop building small planes. That changed with adoption of
the General Aviation Revitalization Act of 1994, which
revised liability rules, brought manufacturers back and
triggered a reemergence of small-plane ownership. The number
of active pilots nationwide--now about 645,000--is on a slow
climb back, according to Morningstar.
Seth Young, a professor of airport operations and management
at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Florida, predicts
a "real boom in personal commuter aviation" in the next five
y! ears, a trend likely to increase the popularity of
airstrip-based communities. Young has studied air parks and
worked as a consultant to groups setting up new ones.
He is active in a research and development program working
to expand alternatives to traditional air travel.
Headquartered at NASA's Langley Research Center in Hampton,
Va., partners in the project include the FAA, state and
local aviation organizations, universities and businesses.
The program was funded by Congress last fall with $9 million
in seed money and is expected to receive an additional $60
million in the next five years.
The Small Aircraft Transportation System (
) envisions smarter airports and easier to fly, affordable
planes that will get commuters around quickly.
Young say! s remarkable strides are being made, including
development of navigational systems that allow pilots to fly
to and from uncontrolled airports despite inclement weather.
'We Love Airport
In the here and now, Al
and Teri Carlson cruise in a white and yellow Cessna. And
they enjoy living in a community filled with those who share
their interest in small planes--with others who think the
sound of a well-tuned engine is, well, wonderful. "We love
airplane noise," says Al Carlson. "In the high desert,
aerospace alley, if you don't ... something's wrong with
One of the Carlsons ' neighbors uses his hangar for a
vintage car collection; another has converted his into an
indoor swimming pool. But the majority who live here use
their hangars for what they were! intended: airplanes.
"The way most people live, you might know your next-door
neighbor but you probably don't know the person two doors
down. Out here, everybody has one common hobby," says John
Wilson, 62, who lives across the street from the Carlsons.
Wilson says he used to store his single-engine Cessna 182 at
Whiteman Airport before moving to the Rosamond Skypark in
Until his retirement last month, each weekday morning Wilson
would walk through his backyard to his hangar, pull his
plane onto the tarmac, taxi past his neighbors and fly off
to work while his wife sipped coffee in the kitchen. "I'm
like a golfer who likes to live on a golf course," says
Wilson, "only I'm a pilot who likes to live on an airport."
Says Morningstar of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Assn.:
"People choose to fly for lifestyle reasons. They view it as
a challenge, as romance, as adventure.
And, at air parks, that lifestyle is extended to terra
The Carlsons use their plane the way most people use a
car--for vacationing, going shopping, even going to church
"Planes are an extension of anybody's ability to drive,"
says Al Carlson. "We just go long distances faster."