The People and Planes of Spruce Creek
Fun: flying south for the winter. More fun: flying every day
- By Debbie Gary
- Air & Space magazine, July 2004
(Page 4 of 4)
Not every hangar in the park is stuffed with airplanes. Brenda and Bill Lear Jr. (the son of Learjet creator William P. Lear) bought a home with a hangar, but they both sold their airplanes before they moved in. Without an airplane, their hangar is a workshop and a warehouse for, among other things, copies of Bill Lear’s autobiography, Fly Fast… Sin Boldly. For medical reasons he doesn’t fly anymore, but he takes a radio and his golf cart to The Tree on beautiful afternoons and teases other pilots with his landing critiques. (“That’s a nine and a half, Gene,” he says. “Your tail was too low.”)
On weekday afternoons at 4 p.m., Lear and a group of guys, many of them retired airline pilots, head for Darrel Bassuener’s hangar, near the runway. They arrive by car, airplane, golf cart, bike, and motorcycle, and they sip soda and beer alongside Bassuener’s North American T-28 (the sumo wrestler of single-engine airplanes). They tell stories and try out jokes. On one side of a long fold-up table, John McCollister repeats the local favorite, “Did you know that when you die at Spruce Creek, going to heaven is a lateral move?” On the other side of the table, someone tells the one about the novice copilot breaking out of the clouds and spotting the really short runway that is 150 feet long and 10,000 feet wide.
Outside, the airshow goes on. In the background, Dennis Demers’ Cessna Citation jet spools up and heads for Vermont. Two RV-8s fly in a tight formation, a Republic Seabee turns on downwind, and Orval Fairbairn taxies by in his 1946 Johnson Rocket.
Sidebar: The Details
SPRUCE CREEK is a 1,140-acre airpark seven miles from the Atlantic coastline beach. The development is close to Daytona Beach, which lies about 50 miles north of NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. The nearest major airport is Daytona International, seven miles to the north.
Sidebar: Vital Stats
Dining: Try Pepino’s, in Spruce Creek’s commercial district. Don’t Miss: Spruce Creek’s annual Wings and Wheels Day, held every March, when residents display the vintage automobiles, motorcycles, and aircraft normally hidden in their hangars. Living There: For information about community amenities and listings of available properties, visit Spruce Creek Fly-In Realty at www.fly-in.com and the Spruce Creek Property Owners’ Association at www.scpoa.com.