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What’s the history of Pilots Ridge airport?

Merton Vance

Pilots Ridge Aero Plantation is a small subdivision of houses arranged along a privately owned airport that allows residents to taxi their planes out to the runway in much the way that most folks drive their cars from a driveway into a street.

It’s located at 716 Pilots Ridge Road, Wilmington [Map this], off Carolina Beach Road south of Wilmington.

At one time, it was just a grass airstrip used by small planes that towed advertising banners behind them while cruising over local beaches.

In 1983, developer Don Hobbs bought the airstrip and surrounding property and began marketing the fly-in community.

Today, there are 14 privately owned houses in the subdivision and a total of 29 lots arranged along a paved 2,750-foot runway.

“Most of the people here are experienced pilots with thousands of hours of flight time,” said Lin Brown III, president of the Pilots Ridge Homeowners Association. Most of the homeowners are full-time residents, he said.

Brown, an architect, uses his plane to travel frequently to visit with clients. He said the community attracts other residents who also used private aircraft for business travel.

The airport is privately operated and receives no tax dollars, Brown said. Access is limited and pilots must get permission to use the airport.

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