February 20, 2008

Spruce Creek Aviation Videos

Enjoy this selection of videos sharing the passion...

The Red Bull Air Race in Rio de Janeiro

Watch the Red Bull Helicopter aerobatics

Stearman Grand Master John Mohr at Oshkosh 2007

Fishing and Airplanes sometimes don't mix...

Bumpy landing by Swiss Air at London City Airport

Landing at London - City (LCY / EGLC)

This pilot flies taildraggers in his spare time

Shortest Take off and Landing ever recorded

With this plane, who needs a runway ?

Flawless Engine-out Landing

Non-aviators often think that all is lost in the very rare occasions when the engines decide to go to sleep when in the air. While the maneuver is certainly considered an emergency, the plane still flies and can be taken to a "normal" landing as the video shows.

February 17, 2008


See the Spruce Creek Fly-in through the eyes of visitors and residents...

Spruce Creek by the BBC of London

The BBC of London came to Spruce Creek and prepared a very nice segment covering the gaggle team, interviewing several residents and providing a virtual tour of the community and its lifestyle.

Local Flight on a Searey

This is a video of a flight of two Searey Amphibians to Spruce Creek and then flying along the beaches of Daytona and New Smyrna, FL. The pilots are Phil Mendelson and Bill Furr.

Ormond to Spruce Creek

A Flight from Ormond Beach to Spruce Creek, overhead Daytona International Airport & Speedway on a Liberty XL2

Gene McNeely

Spruce Creek's own Geene McNeely and his Aeroshell Aerobatic Team performing

The Aeroshell Aerobatic Team

The Aeroshell Aerobatic Team introduction video: Gene McNeely, Alan Henley, Steve Gustafson and Mark Henley

Bob Hoover and his Shrike

Bob Hoover's interview and discussion of his airshow techniques. Hoover's Shrike Commander was based at Spruce Creek during the off-season

February 11, 2008


Spruce Creek Country Club Golf CourseThe Spruce Creek Country Club complements the airport to provide our residents the option of a social country club atmosphere. While the club is a separate entity to the main community, various membership options are available.Spruce Creek Country Club Spruce Creek Country Club With an 18 hole course winding through wooded fairways and an established Clubhouse with adjoining tennis courts and swimming pool, the club has the amenities to allow its members enjoy life to the fullest in the Spruce Creek Fly-In. The Club's amenities revolve around its gracious clubhouse with lounge, formal dining room, dance floor, and superb dining and beverage service. Outside the Clubhouse is a large swimming pool complete with pool house, gazebos, and changing and bath facilities. The pool's large sunning deck is usually teeming with guests enjoying social activities.

Golf Course

The club facilitiesSpruce Creek Country Club include a challenging eighteen hole golf course that winds through our wooded forests and creek. In addition, it has a practice area with putting greens, a driving Range with target greens and complimentary range balls, green side bunker and fairway bunker. The golf course features 6,894 yards of golf from the longest tees for a par of 72. The course rating is 73.1 and it has a slope rating of 128 on Bermuda grass.Spruce Creek Country Club Spruce Creek Country ClubDesigned by renowned Bill Amick and first opened in 1971, the course offers over 6,700 yards of carefully designed fairway, bunkers, lakes and beautiful manicured greens. The front side of the course winds along historic Spruce Creek and its fairways are bordered by majestic southern oaks. The back nine offers spacious views where wind and water can challenge your play. The championship course is a wonderful challenge for golfers of all skill levels. Other amenities include golf instruction, golf club and cart rental and men's and ladies' locker room. The club has a cart only policy.Spruce Creek Country Club

Courses Offered


Spruce Creek Country Club

The tennis area includes eight lighted tennis courts (4 clay and 4 hard) with practice backboard and Pro Shop.

Spruce Creek Country Club


From formal dining to casual entertaining, dining at Spruce Creek Country Club embodies a continuing commitment to good taste and exceptional service. The outstanding cuisine and personalized service of The Prop and Fore provides the ideal background to entertain your guests.

Other Amenities and Activities

Snack bar, tennis and golf pro shops, golf instruction, fitness center, dining room and banquet facilities.

Spruce Creek Country Club

Throughout the year the club provides a variety of activities which include but are not limited to: tournaments, member events, tennis events, golf events, dining events and specials, Christmas and other holiday special events and the always popular annual charity events.

Spruce Creek Country Club
1900 Country Club Drive
Port Orange, FL 32128
Phone: 386-756-6116

See more images of the Spruce Creek Country Club:

Click Here for a Larger Birds Eye View of the Club

View Larger Map

February 08, 2008

SPRUCE CREEK Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ's)



Where is the Spruce Creek Fly-in Community?
Spruce Creek is located about 7 miles South East of Daytona Beach. See the Spruce Creek Map for a better idea

Who owns the Spruce Creek airport?
The owners of real property at Spruce Creek, through the Property Owners Association, own, maintain and control the airport.

When did Spruce Creek open?
Spruce Creek Airport was built in 1943 by the US Navy. It was conceived as a residential airpark in the late sixties. The development of the community began in the early seventies. More information can be found in our History section.

Who maintains the streets?
The streets are private and not open for public access, the Spruce Creek Property Owner’s Association maintains the streets. With the exception of serious crimes, even the County Sheriff needs permission to enter.

What kind of aviation facilities are available at Spruce Creek?
A 4000' x 150’ paved lighted runway, fourteen miles of paved taxiways, Jet-A and 100LL Fuel, Aircraft Repair Stations, Restaurants, Real Estate Offices and many more commercial enterprises. The paved taxiways to the homes typically have fifty to sixty foot clearances to accommodate most private jets. See the Spruce Creek Airport section for more detailed information.

Is there an instrument approach to the Spruce Creek Airport?
Yes, there is a private GPS approach for the use of those Spruce Creek residents and their planes that are properly qualified. The approach plates, while issued by Jeppesen, are numbered and only distributed to qualifying property owners of Spruce Creek.

Can I fly a jet to Spruce Creek?
Of course!, We have several Lears, Citations, L39’s, an L29, even a Mig15 based here.

Can I fly my Stearman to Spruce Creek?
Of Course!, there are several Stearmans based in the field. Matter of fact, this is the home of Princess Belle, one of the top Stearmans in the World, winner of the top award in every show she’s been to. We even have Stearman wanna-be’s Wacos, a Fokker Triplane (Red Baron), a Sopwith Camel, a Tiger Moth, several  Great Lakes and other biplanes. We also have a P-51, several T28’s T6’s, a Grumman Widgeon, Maules, Siai Marchettis, many Cubs, the world’s largest concentration of Van’s Aircraft RV’s, and a few helicopters and even hot air balloons among others.

How do I get to Spruce Creek?
Check our maps and charts for information on how to get here by air  or by automobile. Please keep in mind that any visits are by invitation only, as the community is not open to the public. If you are interested in real estate at the Spruce Creek Fly-in, contact Karlhaus Realty for an invitation and they will happily schedule a guided tour.

What is the weather like in Daytona Beach?
This is Florida, where Palm Trees grow naturally, the sun always shines and people dress casual. When you are shoveling snow up north, many times we are walking around in t-shirts enjoying a balmy 70 F. In the summer it can be hot, but being close to the Atlantic Ocean and its breezes, the temperature gets tempered.

How far is Spruce Creek from the beach?
Less than fifteen minutes (Seven miles East).

Can I ride my bicycle on the beach?
Out beaches are world famous, everyone knows that NASCAR was born here, the reason is the fine sand that gets hard-packed and supports all kinds of wheeled activities. Bicycling is one of the most fun exercises when done on the beach.

Is the Spruce Creek Fly-in the World’s Largest Residential Airpark?
Yes, no airpark in the world compares to Spruce Creek. It is not only the Largest and most established, but we also think it’s the Best.

Can’t someone build another community like Spruce Creek?
Probably, if you have more money than Fort Knox and more time than a Himalayan monk... Spruce Creek’s history started back in 1943 and what we have today has taken over 60 years to mature. Like a good wine, with lots of time and the experience of having tried many different things did we get the formula right at the end.  Our runway was part of a former navy base, it is 4,000 feet long and 150 feet wide and can accommodate anything from a Stearman to a Gulfstream. It is lighted and has a GPS instrument approach. It would be economically unfeasible to duplicate today. In addition, we have a marvelous country club with an 18-hole championship course, swimming pool and tennis courts as well as a driving range.  The aggregate value of Spruce Creek has been estimated to exceed a billion dollars. But the real value is in the residents, One of the key ingredients to the fantastic mix at Spruce Creek is the sheer amount of talent, friendliness and camaraderie that resides here; people that have made a mark in their lives and decided to opt for the Spruce Creek Fly-in lifestyle and come from all parts of the world.

What kind of homes can I purchase at the Spruce Creek Fly-in?
There is a home to suit almost every taste and budget. The homes range from modestly priced Spruce Creek Condo Townhomes in the 160’s to elaborate Hangar Homes and mansions priced in the several millions. The home styles vary from condominiums or single-family homes on the Spruce Creek Golf Course to townhomes with plane ports, single family homes on zero lot lines and, of course, homes with attached hangars (“hangar homes”) and direct access to taxiways. Some homes back to our own Spruce Creek and have boat docks. For those desiring to build a custom home, there are a limited number of lLots available, including some lots with taxiway access. Contact Karlhaus Realty for information about Spruce Creek Real Estate.

Wasn’t the Spruce Creek Fly-in featured on TV in the Travel Channel?
Yes!, the Spruce Creek Fly-in was featured in the Travel Channel in an episode of “Outrageous millionaire services”. Spruce Creek has also been featured in CNN, the BBC of London, and national and international magazines such as AOPA Pilot, Flying, The Robb Report, Ocala Home, Stratos, Watch, Big Twin, Air and Space, Land Rover, Airport Business, and many more.

Is it true that John Travolta lived in Spruce Creek?
Yes!, John Travolta was probably the most well known person that lived here. His main home was in Spruce Creek for many years before moving to Ocala, where he could land his Boeing 707 (Although Spruce Creek Airport can handle most business jets, the Boeing 707 is a little bit too much for our 4,000 ft. runway...).

How safe is the Spruce Creek Fly-in?
Spruce Creek is a private, gated community with 24-hr private security patrol. The entrance gates are manned by our security personnel who check-in and register all guests and contractors. There are security cameras at the gates which automatically record all activity. A record is kept of everyone’s driver’s licenses and times of entry. License plates are recorded as well. The airport is private, invitation-only. People rarely lock their doors. Kids can freely play in the common and nature areas and can be seen rollerblading or riding their bicycles in the paths. Many celebrities reside here and appreciate the privacy and camaraderie of a close-knit community without having to worry about public mobs or paparazzi. As an example, Tom Cruise stayed here with his then girlfriend, Nicole Kidman, while filming "Days of Thunder". There was no other place that offered the privacy and security that we have.

What is the FAA Identifier of the Spruce Creek Airport?
The Spruce Creek Airport  Identifier is 7FL6. Before 1999, it was 44J (as in old Jeppesen or Loran databases, for those that have not updated their Nav equipment...)

What are the Area Code and ZIP codes for Spruce Creek?
The Area code is (386) , which spells FUN !... (Used to be 904)
The Zip Code is 32128 (used to be 32124 before 2001)

What is the difference between a “Fly-in” and an “ Airpark”?
None. A “Fly-in” community is also an “airpark”. The term used to designate an airport that offers direct access to residential or commercial properties by aircraft. The name was coined by Spruce Creek’s founder and visionary, Mac Conway. See the Spruce Creek history Section.

What is there to do at Spruce Creek Fly-In?
Walking, rollerblading, bicycling and jogging on 14 miles of trails and taxiways, Canoeing, Fishing, Swimming, Tennis, Golfing, Learning to Fly, Watch nature (we have deer, fox, eagles, hawks, turtles, and hundreds of other interesting species, including New Yorkers). There also are Community social events, Over 20 specialty clubs (Bridge, Garden, Flying, Book Reading, EAA Chapter, and others),  Even pristine solitude for those so inclined.

Where can I keep my airplane at Spruce Creek?
We have about 600 homes with attached hangars, in addition there is a number of townhomes that have “planeports” - sort of like a carport, only larger. Commercial hangars are also available which permit not only the storage of aircraft, motor coaches, boats and whatever other toys, but also allow the operation of businesses and construction of offices. Hangars can be purchased fee simple or leased from the owners. There are tie downs available for a reasonable fee from the POA. Contact Karlhaus Realty at Spruce Creek for additional information on Spruce Creek Real Estate.

What are the Real Estate taxes in Spruce Creek?
Taxes run approximately $20 per thousand dollars of assessed value. In Florida, Assessed Values vary a lot and can dramatically change with a new purchase. The first $25,000 of assessed value may qualify for Florida’s Homestead Exemption for residents. The Homestead Exemption offers a lot of benefits beyond the $25,000 “discount” of assessed value, it protects the real property in many cases against judgments (Remember OJ?... They took everything, but He kept his multimillion dollar Florida home...). Florida has the “save our homes” statutes which place a limit to what the assessed values can be raised for homestead exeptions from year to year. The laws are complex and there are many other exemptions available for residents. The Volusia County Property Appraiser's office is here. Here is a handy Volusia County, Florida Property Tax Estimator.

Is there a Property Owners Association?
All property owners in Spruce Creek are required to members of the Spruce Creek Property Owners Association (POA). For each parcel owned, regardless of size, shape, or value, a flat yearly POA fee is due, typically the January of each year. For 2009, the fee is $1150.00 (Per YEAR, compare that with the MONTHLY assessment of a South Florida Condo...). This pays for maintenance of the roadways, taxiways, runway, and common areas, as well as security and insurance. The POA is managed by the Spruce Creek Property Manager, hired by the POA Board. The POA Board is responsible for all maintenance and all activities in the community and is assisted by diverse committees and hired personnel.

Information about the Spruce Creek Property Owners Association
All property owners in Spruce Creek are required to be members of the Spruce Creek Property Owners Association (POA). For each parcel owned, regardless of size, shape, or value, a flat yearly POA fee is be due. For 2009 the fee is $1,350. A portion of this fee covers the operations of the community (Including the airport operations, the common areas landscaping, maintenance of the runway, roads and taxiways, POA Employees, Office, Security, Lighting, etc.) another portion includes reserves for future maintenance. Here is historical data on the Spruce Creek POA Fees for the past five years:

Year 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009


If the property owned is a condominium, or zero-lot-line parcel, or if a given section of Spruce Creek has an additional Owners Association, there will also be dues, usually payable monthly, to that Association. Some of these "Mini-Associations" include Eagles Crest, Glen Eagles, Hawks Nest, The Reserves, Wedgewood, Fairway Chase, Eagles Landing, Woodside, Cedar Pointe, Creekside and others. The fees are reasonable and include various services such as lawn maintenance, community pools, insurance, etc. Consult with your Spruce Creek Real Estate agent for detailed information on a given property.

Are there any other fees I have to pay to live at Spruce Creek?
Within the community there are several condominium developments of townhomes, commercial hangars, and offices that have their own condo or association fees to pay for exterior maintenance or common areas such as pools.  These fees are in addition to the POA annual fees. There are no landing fees at the Spruce Creek Airport.

Is there a Country Club in Spruce Creek?
Yes!, The Spruce Creek Country Club has a championship 18-hole golf course. Many special events have been held here such as LPGA and others.

Is there a Flying Club at Spruce Creek?
Does a bear...? But of course!, Being an airport, there's not one, but several flying-related clubs; there’s a social flying club with over 300 members that meets monthly and organizes periodic fly-outs and an annual parade, there is a local chapter of the EAA, There is a formation flying group ("The Gaggle") that flies out every Saturday morning in search of that $100 breakfast. We also have the Bonanza pilots group, the RV pilots group, and several more, some more formal, others more laid back and casual. Some groups conduct periodic seminars that meet FAA requirements for recurrent safety training (WINGS program, etc.).

What about airplane noise?
The sound of an aircraft engine, especially a radial one... is music to the ears of a pilot. Spruce Creek Fly-in is an airport community, so anyone looking to purchase or lease a property at Spruce Creek should be aware of the airport, the airplanes, the air and ground traffic, and the activities associated with aircraft operations. Which is exactly the reason so many want to live here!. This is, was, and will be a Fly-In community. That said, our community is comprised of 1,400 acres, a lot of it heavily wooded, so there are many areas that are somewhat sheltered from a lot of the noise as well. Finally, this is a private airport and as such it certainly does not have the same number of daily operations as a typical municipal airport with commercial traffic.

How good are the local schools?
The local schools are excellent. Several of the local schools have been rated as top schools in the country. Spruce Creek is served by Cypress Creek Elementary, which is brand new and opened in 2007; Creekside Middle School, located just outside the south gate of Spruce Creek; opened in 2001; and Spruce Creek High School in Port Orange which has the second largest International Baccalaureate program in the US. The program allows students to graduate from high school with as much as a full year of college credit. Spruce Creek High is also home of the “Wee-Hawks” pre-K program, one of the state’s best, which usually fills-up a year in advance!. There are several higher education facilities in the area: Embry Riddle University, rated by U.S.News & World Report as number one in the Aerospace/ Aeronautical/ Astronautical Engineering category for schools without doctorate programs; Bethune-Cookman College, Daytona Beach Community College, Kaiser University and the University of Central Florida Daytona Campus.

Is Spruce Creek a retirement community?
While a lot of our residents are retirees, some of these “retirees” are in their 40’s, so this is by no means a “retirement community”... Spruce Creek has matured into a diverse community with families and young children coexisting with everyone else just as in any other city. Our demographics are composed of a younger age than the average for Florida.  The older residents are the most active anywhere in the state, in fact, some of them today still do loops and rolls in the same vintage airplanes they used during the war as fighter pilots. The stories of these old timers are eagerly listened to by the younger ones. Out here, most solo at 16 after qualifying from an even younger age.

Is there an online Newspaper about Spruce Creek?
The Spruce Creek Journal is the main online source of Spruce Creek News and includes an online Spruce Creek Events Calendar. There is also a Spruce Creek Online Community Network, The Spruce Creek Cafe, where neighbors share photos, videos, news, events and family happenings with other neighbors in a secure online environment. Within the Spruce Creek cafe there are several virtual clubs that members can join in such as the Airline Pilots of Spruce Creek, Spruce Creek Golfers, Spruce Creek Motorcycle Riders, Spruce Creek Pilots and others. The Spruce Creek cafe is sort of like Facebook but only restricted to Spruce Creek Fly-in neighbors and their friends and families. There is also a Facebook Spruce Creek Group, open to all fans of Spruce Creek worldwide.


February 07, 2008


The 1800’s...

Long before there were airplanes, a small village thrived in what is now occupied by the Spruce Creek Fly-in. The village’s cemetery is all that remains and stands today as colorful testament of Spruce Creek’s early settlers. For the last two hundred years it has served as a final resting place to area inhabitants. Among the graves with the older headstones we find that Civil War soldiers are buried there. Other headstones, like the ones from the Smith family’s plot reflect some forgotten tragedies of the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. The large plot contains the crypts of the father and mother. To the left of the parents are buried six children who died before adulthood. To the right are twelve stillborn infants.

Early Aviation Days in Daytona Beach...

The Daytona Beach area has had a long tradition of automotive racing starting in the early 1900’s. The smooth, hard-packed sand and lack of natural obstructions provided a ready-made surface to use for anything with wheels and speed. Pilots soon caught on and used the beach as a runway. Hangars were built later, and even aircraft service was provided on the beach. This former airport is one of only two beach airports that were successful. The other, Old Orchard Beach, was located in Maine and was the starting point for at least five transatlantic flights during the 1920s and 1930s.

Early Daytona Beach Runway

According to Warren Brown’s Florida's Aviation History, The first flight on the beach occurred in 1906 by Charles K. Hamilton, using Israel Ludlow's glider. The glider was pulled by an automobile and actually took place in Ormond. He went as high as 150 feet on his first try, and 250 feet on the second, before crashing into a flagpole and surviving with only a bruised knee.

Numerous flights followed, including John A. McCurdy, the United States’ 5th licensed pilot, in 1911, Phillips Page in 1912, and Ruth Law in 1913. Phillips Page has been credited for taking the first aerial photographs in Florida, while flying around the Hotel Clarendon in Daytona Beach. Many other pilots took to the skies above Daytona Beach before the beach “airport” was finally closed the winter of 1929-30.

Early Aviation in Daytona Beach, pilot McMurdy
All flights were moved to the new location at Bethune Point, right on the Halifax River. Eastern Air Transport was the first commercial service out of Daytona Beach. The airline was certified to fly mail to Tampa and Orlando. However, the first flight crashed just after takeoff, due to a mechanical failure. The pilot was uninjured, and the mail was collected and sent out on a different flight.

Florida State Airways, Inc was an airline that formed in early 1930 in Daytona Beach. The airline provided service for passengers to other Florida cities and to the Bahamas, using Ryan aircraft. In January 1930, Vice President of Operations and part time barnstormer, Bill Lindley, piloted a flight to Palm Beach. While on the descent, he never pulled out of the dive and went into Lake Worth at full throttle.Early Aviation in Daytona Beach, pilot Lindley The combination of Lindley's death and the depression soon caused most aviation activity in Daytona Beach to stop.

During the 1930’s, a 740-acre piece of land located around today’s International Speedway was developed into a field to serve Daytona and replace the old beach Bethune Point field. The first name it was given was Schoetz Field, after the then Governor of Florida who was from Daytona Beach. The airport began with two runways, both gravel. One runway was 1,800 feet long, the other was 2,100 feet long. Before long the name was changed to Daytona Beach Municipal Airport.

Eastern Air Lines began passenger service out of Daytona Beach, flying Kingbirds and Condors. But after only a few years, Eastern did not re-bid after the airmail changes of 1934. In 1935, National Airlines won a bid on the cross-state route from Daytona Beach to St. Petersburg. In 1936, the airport was closed for repairs. National rerouted its flights to Jacksonville but Eastern became upset and called it an act of "buccaneers". National Airlines was nicknamed the "Buccaneer Route", a name that stuck for many years.

In the late 1930s, four 4000 by 150 feet runways were built, all paved. This expansion allowed DC-2 and DC-3 aircraft to land at Daytona Beach. At the time, the terminal was located on the south side of the airport.

At the oubreak of World War II, the Navy and the Army were awarded separate jurisdictions in Florida to build their training bases. The state was divided in half with the Navy awarded the eastern part and the Army the western part. Soon after, the US Navy took over the Daytona airport for training. The airport was renamed the NAS Daytona Beach, all runways were widened to 200 feet and the east-west runway was extended to 5,500 feet. New buildings were constructed, some of which were later used by Embry-Riddle University after their move from Miami in 1965. Nearly 1,500 officers and men were stationed at NAS Daytona Beach at any one time.

The ownership was given back to the city of Daytona Beach in 1946. The first terminal wasn't built until 1952, but once complete in 1958, it brought in a great amount of traffic. A new control tower was built with the terminal. In 1969, Volusia County took over management and renamed the airport to Daytona Beach Regional Airport. Several years later, in 1992, a newer, more modern terminal was built, adding an international terminal, and a longer 10,500-foot (3,200 m) runway. The new terminal and longer runway gave the airport its current status and name, Daytona Beach International Airport.

While the airport is served by United, US Air, AirTran, Continental, and Delta, the only daily direct flights out of the country are provided by Vintage Props and Jets using small, turbo-prop aircraft.

The other Daytona area airports...

During the war, the nearby existing fields in Ormond, Bunnell, New Smyrna Beach and DeLand were also improved and expanded by the Navy to accommodate the increased activity from the Daytona NAS. A fifth airport, designated as a Naval Air Operational Training Base, was completed in late 1943 in what is now occupied by Spruce Creek. The Spruce Creek base was constructed as a training facility and had three runways crisscrossing as well as an extra runway intersecting.

Aerial Photograph of Spruce Creek CIRCA 1940's The Navy complemented the facility with a control tower and a small building. While the airport never had any aircraft or personnel based there, T-6's and other aircraft flew training missions from Jacksonville, St. Augustine, DeLand, and dozens of other fields in the area.

When the war ended so did the need for so many military facilities. The airfields of Ormond, Bunnell, DeLand and Daytona Beach were turned over to the local municipalities to own and maintain as civilian airports, much as it happened all over the country in the post-war years. The Spruce Creek facility was decommissioned and eventually sold in 1957 to the City of Daytona Beach which intended to build an industrial park but never made it to fruition. During the early 60’s, the “Samsula Airport”, as it was then named, was used by the locals as a recreational place to drag race, camp and fish. The City tried several other development ideas. For a time, the state of Florida even considered the site for a University. Around 1964, it was offered to Embry-Riddle Aeronautical Institute, which was looking for a new campus to move its Miami facility. Embry-Riddle eventually moved to the Daytona Municipal airport in 1965 after deciding that they did not want the responsibility for maintaining an airport themselves.

Embry-Riddle had began in 1925 as the Embry-Riddle Company, founded by Talton Higbee Embry and John Paul Riddle in Cincinnati, Ohio. Embry-Riddle was eventually incorporated into what is now American Airlines, before reforming during the buildup to World War II in Miami, Florida as the Embry-Riddle School of Aviation, and later, the Embry-Riddle Aeronautical Institute. In 1970, the school was renamed Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University

McKinley Conway, Pioneer of the Fly-in Concept.

During WWII, a young Ensign, USNR named McKinley Conway was on active duty testing aircraft at NAS Moffett Field, Calif. With degrees in Aeronautical and Electrical Engineering, he served as project engineer for tests of Navy's first jet fighter, the Ryan FR-1.

After the war, “Mac” Conway began independent research in Atlanta. He bought a used single-engine Cessna 170 and began using it for business travel around the USA. He quickly realized that while the airplane provided great mobility in the air, on the ground it was just the opposite as the logistics of procuring ground transportation often caused frustrating delays. Over the next few years he kept pondering and searching for a solution to his predicament. He imagined a new world in which he could taxi his airplane to the offices and plants he wanted to visit and park at the door.

Throughout that time, Conway observed that many airfields built during WWII were being declared surplus and handed off to local governments. He saw an opportunity in converting them into office and industrial parks where customers and suppliers could fly in. During the early 1960s, Conway made a survey of surplus military airfields in Florida. He took aerial photos, noted access and other features. Conway became an evangelist of the fly-in concept of unimodal transport centers and offered his services as a consultant to the owners - mostly local governments - to prepare development plans for them.

During the Late 60’s and early 70’s, Conway planned and promoted a number of fly-in developments at former military bases in Florida and Georgia as well as other sites from the Northeast to the West Coast. In 1970, he conducted the first national seminar on Fly-In Development, in Cape Kennedy. His experience was summarized in a book, “The Airport City” published in 1977.

A residential Airpark is born, The Spruce Creek Fly-in

One of the sites which particularly appealed to Conway was the old Samsula airfield near Daytona Beach. He had a vision of a unified self-contained community featuring residential commercial, recreational and environmental conservation areas. Conway approached the then owner City of Daytona Beach which showed little interest as it was at the time bidding to the state of Florida for the University site.

The City eventually lost the bid in a highly-publicized competition, and with an election coming up, the Conway proposal now seemed like an attractive alternative. The City had no desire, however, to undertake the project on its own. The mayor and city council members flew to Atlanta to meet with Conway and proposed that he could purchase the property at a very attractive price if he would take on the development.

Conway realized he was faced with one of those once-in-a-lifetime opportunities where he could do something really special and showcase his ideas. However, he was a planner and not a developer, and did not have the desire nor the financial ability to take on such a project.

Conway assembled a group of investors, mostly Atlanta pilot-friends, and laid out a plan to pool their money to buy the property and arrange with a Florida developer to implement the project. They incorporated their company and named it “Fly-in Concept”. The city officials approved the plan and in early 1969 signed the purchase contract. The permitting process, which included environmental, engineering and other studies as well as numerous approvals from local and county zoning boards and the FAA lasted over a year. In July, 1970 the site plan was finally approved and the project officially launched.

Early Spruce Creek Promotional map The property transfer ceremony was held at the old airstrip with the Atlanta investors and city officials in attendance. A ceremonial ribbon was stretched across the airstrip and one of the investors cut it with the propeller of his Bonanza. On the photo, we can see of President Mac Conway (at microphone) accepting the Spruce Creek property as Daytona, Florida Mayor Richard Kane (right) looks on.

Mac Conway accepting the Spruce Creek Property

The primary focus of the Fly-in Concept investors was the recreational aspects of a secluded place where they could fly their airplanes to. Their private getaway offered plenty of natural areas and an unspoiled Creek to go fishing. They graded a taxiway from the end of the runway to the creek for easy access. An old boat was left on the property for the use of all the property owners. It was a convenient place to land, taxi to the creek, fish, and fly-away that same evening.

Original Spruce Creek Site plan

That pathway that allowed the planes to taxi to the creek is now Taxiway Echo which leads to Overlook Park. Today, with the exception of a pressure-treated wooden path and decks, the Overlook Park area remains as pristine as it was for the original investors.

Thompson Properties buys the airfield

The post-vietnam war 1970s was perhaps the worst decade of American economic performance since the Great Depression. Although there was no severe economic depression as witnessed in the 1930s, economic growth rates were considerably lower than previous decades. The dour economic environment was compounded by the 1973 oil crisis. By the middle 70’s, the Fly-in Concept investors were unable to secure additional financing and declared bankruptcy.

In the late 70’s, Thompson Properties Inc. of Florida, led by Jay Thompson, acquired the 1,400 acres Spruce Creek Airport and immediately started work on updating Conway’s original vision. The property already had governmental approvals in place for over 6,000 living units and 3.0 million square feet of commercial endeavor. Jay Thompson envisioned a community of lower density and higher values with an emphasis on exclusive country club living. After extensive studies and planning, the Spruce Creek master site plan was revised under a philosophy of "Orderly Conservative Growth"' to a phased development, reducing the total number of living units by over fifty percent to 2,650 and cutting ninety percent of the commercial square footage to 300,000.

Today, only a few undeveloped lots remain and the community is literally a thriving private city. Thompson developed the Spruce Creek Country Club together with club house, tennis courts, pool, restaurant, meeting facilities and an 18-hole championship Golf course to complement the airport.

The Spruce Creek Fly-in Today

Of the original military airfield, one runway remains (5-23) as the others were closed or turned into taxiways over the years. The strip is a wide, modern 4,000 ft x 150 ft asphalt-surfaced military-spec runway economically impossible to duplicate in todays’ terms and unique in the world. It has a GPS approach and landing lights which allow 24-hr access. The Spruce Creek airport can accommodate anything from a Stearman to a Gulfstream II. Spruce Creek Airport

Today, the Spruce Creek Fly-in Community is the world's most famous residential airpark. Its grounds and homes are impeccably and immaculately groomed. Almost 5,000 residents, 1,300 homes and 700 hangars share a unique life in this private gated village. 24-hr patrolled security complements the safety, privacy and enjoyment of our residents. Frequent community-wide events and theme clubs for most any interest from flying to book reading and gardening ensure a tightly knit and friendly community hard to duplicate anywhere. John Travolta and many other celebrities have enjoyed the Spruce Creek Fly-In lifestyle and have called it home. Truly a piece of pilot's heaven.

The old cemetery still serves as final resting place for many of the local residents. It is lovingly maintained by a team of volunteers and dear family members of the departed. The annual cemetery cleanup event is a tradition that many Spruce Creekers participate in. A nice archway was donated and built by the Johns family at the entrance in 1985 in memory of Curtis James Johns who passed away at the early age of 21.

The modern headstones, many with aircraft motifs reflecting the earthly passions of the occupants beneath, mix in ethereal harmony with those of the older “residents”. These are as picturesque and unique as anywhere else in the world. A lot of Spruce Creekers have expressed their desire to make this their final resting place. As my friend, the late Mike Keemar used to say, “After you have lived at Spruce Creek, heaven’s a lateral move”.

Carlos Bravo Spruce Creeker since 1998

February 01, 2008

Spruce Creek Aeronautical Chart (IFR)

Getting to the Spruce Creek Fly-in is easy. Conveniently located in North East Florida, it is only about an hour's flight time in your own aircraft to the Bahamas, Atlanta, Miami, the Florida Keys and many other destinations.

IFR Enroute Chart, vicinity of 7FL6
Flight Planning Charts
at skyvector.com

Spruce Creek Aeronautical Chart (VFR)

Getting to the Spruce Creek Fly-in is easy. Conveniently located in North East Florida, it is only about an hour's flight time in your own aircraft to the Bahamas, Atlanta, Miami, the Florida Keys and many other destinations.

VRF Chart vicinity of 7FL6
Flight Planning Charts at skyvector.com
IFR Enroute Chart ->

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