Florida Flying Guide 2016
When I was asked last year if some of my Florida flying photographs could be used in a book about flying in the state, I was delighted. I was only too happy to share my love of Florida and all that it has to offer to its people – and especially to its aviators.
Florida has an abundance of airports and airfields, making some of the best beaches, unforgettable sights and good quality restaurants very easily accessible. Unlike the United Kingdom, very few of the airports here apply a charge when your wheels touch the ground. The same applies to aircraft parking, which is again possible for free at a number of airports, or for just a few dollars at the larger ones e.g. Daytona Beach, where that tiny premium is worth it, just for the sake of being amongst airline traffic!
I got my hands on the Florida Flying Guide today and cannot recommend it enough. It’s the perfect addition to any aviator’s flight bag – whether a pilot who knows Florida like the back of their hand, a student pilot plotting a first cross country flight or an hour builder. It is not only a useful tool for deciding where to fly but also very handy in getting to grips with the more sensitive and risky airspace e.g. military operation areas (MOA), restricted areas and warning areas, and flying during the hotter, more humid summer months, when storms in Florida are a daily occurrence.
The Florida Flying Guide suggests things to see and do (both within walking distance and slightly further afield) at and around 44 Florida airports along with quality and affordable places to sleep and eat. It also provides aviators with some of the same information found in the Airport Facility Directory (AFD) including a layout of each airfield, along with runway lengths, parking locations and FBOs, control towers (where an airport has one), wind socks, and, in the case of the larger and busier airports, taxiways and displaced thresholds as well. Above each diagram are useful frequencies for flight including tower and ground (where applicable), weather and approach and departure control too.
For the pilots who want an easy ride, each airport entry gives airspace information too, so look out for the destinations where you won’t need to reach for the radio – because the airport and surrounding airspace are both uncontrolled.
Of the towns and cities featured in the book, my most recommended stops are:
- Cedar Key (KCDK) simply because it is such a thrill to land on a shorter-than-normal runway with water at both ends! My now defunct school, Orlando Flight Training, actually banned students from visiting the airport because they were so concerned that an aircraft would end up in the water. Needless to say, it didn’t stop me (and others) from visiting.
- Clearwater (KPIE) is always exciting when coming from the east e.g. Orlando and Kissimmee. With flight following, you often find yourself vectored over the top of the east/west runway at Tampa. The beaches too are also excellent and will definitely be appreciated following a flight on a hot and sticky day!
- Key West (KEYW) is, in my opinion, the best that Florida has to offer. The island is especially attractive but the views as you leave the mainland and head out over the Keys are frankly unbeatable. Imagine a holiday postcard, only ten times better. It needs to be seen to be believed.
Ocala (KOCF) isn’t one of the most exciting airports in Florida, but, if ever in the area, venture northeast to Jumbolair (17FL) and see the home of John Travolta and his impressive Boeing 707 in Qantas colours. It’s not possible to land here but the best views to be had are from the air. So as not to disturb the residents here, it’s wise to stay high and wide.
- Okeechobee (KOBE) is a great stop for something to eat. With my flying school wanting their aircraft engines running all of the time, my stops here had to be quick. The ‘Hungry Flyer’ breakfast at the Landing Strip Cafe (recommended in the guide) was my order every time. Many Florida airports offer cafes, coffee shops and restaurants, which are popular with aviators and enthusiasts alike. Most, if not all, are friendly establishments and offer great value for money too. The name alone – Okeechobee – is surely reason enough to pay a visit!
- Venice (KVNC) is another worthwhile stop, especially during the summer months. Just a short walk from the airport is a nice stretch of beach with warm and almost clear Gulf water. On each of my visits to Venice, it was always very quiet, so the perfect place to relax and recharge before heading home. Departing from runway 31, enjoy the stunning views as you climb out over the water. You will get a great view of Venice’s lengthy pier if you look to the left.
You can pick up your copy of the Florida Flying Guide 2016 at the US Sport Aviation Expo in Sebring, which runs from 20 to 23 January. Pick up a copy and make the most of what Florida has to offer!
Brooks Florida Flying Guide 2016
By Steven Brooks, published by Adventus Media LLC and priced at $39.99