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Thread: Flying in and out of College Park, MD KCGS or Leesburg, KJYO

  1. #1

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    Flying in and out of College Park, MD KCGS or Leesburg, KJYO

    I'm wondering if anyone knows about basing or flying in and out of airports in the Washington DC area. I know there is the SFRA (take course) and the FRZ (finger prints, etc), but I'm wondering about the practicalities of basing at some airport there.

    Hangars are hard to get. Tying down is easy to find, but that may be hard on the planeóworrying about water getting in, causing corrosion.

    And while I'm sure I can handle the SFRA or FRZ, in a practical sense, it might become a nuisance after a while.

    I'm interested in the thoughts of this great group.

    Thank you.

  2. #2

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    Jen,

    Hello. When I first moved to the Baltimore-dc area I was obsessed with trying to find the right place to base my plane. I have a tube and fabric airplane so a hanger was a must have for me. And my ex thought that flying should not involve radios or hardtops runways. Not sure if you share those requirements. but those requirements kind of took CGS and JYO out of the running for us. We opted to drive a little and based at Harford,md. They had crossing grass runways, cheap hangers, and pretty lively community. Now, however, they put in a monster runway and new power hangers and boosted hanger rent. I understand that they are filling hangers there well and that some of the customers are folks who have left sfra airports that have closed or have the detriments you mentioned. On the other hand because they have shifted to more upscale clients some of the grassroots aviators have moved out.

    To get the plane closer to where we live in Annapolis, I moved the plane to Ridgley/Gooden. It was a nice quiet place and the old owner use to cut the grass down next to the runway so you had the option of hardtop or landing in the grass. The current owner is a crop duster and doesnít cut the grass down anymore. So you have to land on the hard top. The hanger rates were cheaper than Hartfordís new rates, but I think there is a wait list now and it would be a drive for you I presume. Secondly, the owner is now renting to a jump operation which kind of tries to make everyone else feel unwelcome as they can these days and there is no gas there. I moved to bay bridge. I believe they have a wait list too for hangers. There is some life here, and you are about as close toDC as you can get and not have to deal with the sfra. I finally got over my fear of hardtops and they have gas and a good maintenance shop. So, this is a pretty good option for me now.

    Avoiding the sfra hubbub was something I wanted to avoid when I had less confidence, but I decided it would be fun to dip my toes in lately and the more you do it the easier it gets. Itís really just mandatory flight following. The only gripe I have is I have had trouble more than once calling to get a squawk from Baltimore sector Potomac. The phone just rings and rings. Kind of a bummer to be ready to go and you canít get a squawk.

    I was at college park yesterday. Itís has an awesome clean FBO with some amazing history, but being in the frz itís pretty quiet. They have gas but I donít think thereís any maintenance on the field. If thatís true, that can present some issues trying to get an A&P to do an annual over the winter at your tie-down. I was there all afternoon yesterday doing some sim work and I think one plane landed. I havenít been to JYO yet, but planing to visit soon. I do see a number of flight clubs, schools, and maintenance, so I am guessing there is more life there if that matters to you. JYO also has its own SFRA procedures which minimizes the ATC hubbub. This might be a better option. I presume you can put your name on the wait list and see what happens. It took me several years but finally a hanger came up at bay bridge. You just have to be patient.

    Hope some of these ramblings are helpful. Let me know if I can do anything else to help.


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  3. #3
    FlyingRon's Avatar
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    I can't vouch for CGS but hangars were available at VKX last I checked. I was based there on 9/11 (took me five weeks to get my plane evacuated fro there). I ended up at OKV and then later CJR. CJR is a nice place and the hangars suddenly becaome obtainable when the forced people to stop subletting and to not allow non-aviation use of them.

    JYO's problem isn't the SFRA, but rather the fact that on a good day it's a very busy place. The pseudo-tower helps a bit. Don't discount HEF either.

  4. #4

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    Howdy Ron,

    I was at kVKX a few weeks ago. KVKX is an option. They have a flight school and seemed to have a few folks around. Donít know about the hanger situation there but it wouldnít surprise me they might have something available. I get the sense the frz has kind of killed business. The airport is stuck at the bottom of a hill in a neighborhood. Not sure I liked the approach down over the trees into a valley and wonder if they have noise abatement issues with the neighbors. And, itís another Maryland 3 airport. Thatís where I went to get fingerprinted. So that makes things convenient, if they are still doing it. But like CGS your having to do FRZ flight plans. Kind of a drag if you just want to jump in your plane and do touch and goes.

    Both CjR and HEF avoid the sfra hubbub. I was at culpepper on Saturday for the their airshow. Looks like a hell of a airport with an active CAF wing. HEF has one of the most active local EAA chapters with Dick Koehler et al. Like CJR, HEF Is kind of a ways south, but with an eaa chapter I am guessing hangers might be available. If I didnít have any other constraints and my focus was solely on being close to grassroots aviation I would move somewhere between culpepper and manassas.


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  5. #5
    FlyingRon's Avatar
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    VKX was a great place in the day. Cheap fuel if you were in the fuel club. Good mechanic on field. Owner was a bit of a crackpot but his heart was in the right place. Was great departing Runway 6 and looking right at the Capitol building. It was a quick ride around the beltway to where I lived by IAD. (Of course, I was crazy enough to base at IAD before the trippled the parking prices and generally got hostile to us small fry, when I got started there the FBO owner was of the impression that you should treat everybody nice because the guy in a Bonanza on Sunday might be in the back of the Gulfstream that came by on Tuesday).

    HEF doesn't avoid the SFRA, it's smack inside it. CJR misses it by a few miles indeed (which worked well for me as I was mostly heading toward CLT anyhow). I was in EAA186 back in the day as well.

  6. #6

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    Flying in and out of College Park, MD KCGS or Leesburg, KJYO

    You are right about VKX. The guy that runs it has an interesting sense of humor he not shy about sharing. I kind of worry how long Potomac, Hyde, and Freeway will stick it out. CGS is managed by the city and have nice facilities except no hangers. I think they could make a bundle if they built some. They are close to DC and there is a train stop near by.

    And, you are right about HEF. HEF is in the sfra.


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    Last edited by tnathan; 10-12-2021 at 12:30 PM.

  7. #7

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    Yes, Nathan. Thank you. Very good story/information. I'll check it out. Also, Bay Bridge I hear has some good Light Sport facilities. I'll look into these things.

  8. #8

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    Hi guys, and thanks. I'm learning.

    From what you're sharing:

    I notice no one mentioned Montgomery County airport, GAI, so that mitigates.

    I've called CGS College Park and it's supposed to be quite nice in some ways, but no hangars and no maintenance. The guy there said I'd need to get to know some A&P or IA who was willing to come over if I ever needed on-site work, and I'd kinda like to be able to get into a hangar at some time. To me, the hangar is important as well as maintenance on the field.

    I think I'll check out W29, HEF, CJR, JYO. Local pilots know the good airports. I talked with JYO who said there is a LONG wait list for hangars, but they had room in a community hanger right away, so that's nice. HEF sounded inviting on the phone. will check there again, too.

    I'm glad I checked, and I'll also keep checking in as more info is shared.

    Jen

  9. #9

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    You guys think it's better to live in VA, MD, or DC?

  10. #10

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    Flying in and out of College Park, MD KCGS or Leesburg, KJYO

    Quote Originally Posted by eaajen View Post
    Hi guys, and thanks. I'm learning.

    From what you're sharing:

    I notice no one mentioned Montgomery County airport, GAI, so that mitigates.

    I've called CGS College Park and it's supposed to be quite nice in some ways, but no hangars and no maintenance. The guy there said I'd need to get to know some A&P or IA who was willing to come over if I ever needed on-site work, and I'd kinda like to be able to get into a hangar at some time. To me, the hangar is important as well as maintenance on the field.

    I think I'll check out W29, HEF, CJR, JYO. Local pilots know the good airports. I talked with JYO who said there is a LONG wait list for hangars, but they had room in a community hanger right away, so that's nice. HEF sounded inviting on the phone. will check there again, too.

    I'm glad I checked, and I'll also keep checking in as more info is shared.

    Jen
    I didnít mention Gaithersburg because you didnt. Itís between JYO and CGS. I was there a few weeks ago. Itís got a classic feeling 60s FBO in my opinion. Itís really lively there. Lots of flights going in and out. There was a DPE that worked out of the FBO last time I was looking to get a new rating, which is a nice resource. They have a restaurant, and rental cars too. The ramp always seems to have some high end airplanes that are fun to see. They have rampies come out and park you and ask what you need., which made me feel like a big deal. They parked me between a tbm and a citation and behind a phenom. There is a parking fee for transients. So, its got a lot going for it, but my sense is its more about getting wealthy lobbyist and politicians into DC than grassroots. I donít believe they have an eaa chapter.

    There is a fair number of planes parked outside so my guess is that there is a wait list at Gaithersburg. But, I would encourage you to go get your name on the waitlists if you find an airport that fits you. The deposits are modest and the sooner you get on the list the sooner you will get a hanger.

    Another thing that would help is some of these old airports were originally geared towards little airplanes, so even if they tell you there is a wait list, it might be worth telling them what you are looking to get a hanger for if itís something small like a cub they might have a hanger all the other folks on the wait list canít get into. Thatís what happened to us at Hartford. They had a wait list but had three little hangers that they struggled to rent because they were built for little 1940s cubs and citabrias with a weird front wall. So you couldnít put any low wing airplane in it and you couldnít put in anything with a decent wingspan. So even though they had a wait list those three hangers came up quicker and everyone else passed.

    Secondly, as Ron mentioned, it isnít out of the ordinary for hangers to get rented around here by folks who are using it as cheap storage or a project airplane that the owner loses interest in. So, if you let them know you own a flying airplane that may help your chances in getting them to help you find a space if they know you plan to come in buy gas and employ their A&P, etc.

    If you are considering GAI, Davis is just a little north. They are kind of dead too, but they seemed to have an old school A&P there. I thought I saw a few sheds but again most of the planes sit outside.

    Another option is Frederick. A little bit of a drive north. Itís a Class D and again a going operation but you are out of the sfra, and you have probably the most active local eaa chapter there and itís aopaís headquarters so cool events pop up there periodically.

    Lastly I would mention Lee here in Annapolis. They are still in the sfra but you are on the edge and can just bug out quickly. They donít have many hangers but they do have open air carports. They are open to the weather and you canít store much of anything there since they are open, but they keep the snow and rain off. So, thatís a little better. These tend to come up quickly and are relatively cheap by DC standards.

    Hope that helps.


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    Last edited by tnathan; 10-12-2021 at 12:32 PM.

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