Friday, May 23, 2008

 

CALLING THE GHOST OF SAMSULA

After just about eight years in various planning stages, infrastructure work is underway just west of Ottawa on Tailwind Estates.

If you've heard of Jumbolair or of the World War II era, Samsula Airfield near Daytona Beach, Florida, then you know this story. Much like Samsula, the Carp Airport in Ottawa's west end is a decommissioned military airfield used as part of the Commonwealth Air Training Plan which prepared pilots in Canada for the European War theatre.

The City of Ottawa acquired the airport when it amalgamated about a dozen area communities in 1999. A private developer, West Capital Developments, has launched an ambitious project to build a "fly-in" community, Tailwind estates, on the airport.

Which brings me back to Samsula, now commonly known as the "Spruce Creek Community".
Spruce Creek is generally considered the original fly-in community. It was developed in the 1970's. In the United States: Florida, Texas, Arizona and elsewhere there are more than 500 "fly-in" communities where many commuters go to work in their airplanes rather than drive. For instance at the fly-in community near Boca Raton, Florida many commute 20 minutes by air into Miami daily, rather than the two-plus-hours challenge of Interstate 95.

Lest I digress: Likely the best known of these communities is "Jumbolair Aviation Estates" in Ocala in central Florida. Famous because of its residents, including actor John Travolta, who flies his private Boeing 707 out of his own backyard.

Back to Carp: The airfield is being developed into three components. The residential estates backing unto the runway. A business park and, it will continue to operate as a general aviation airport. That component already includes two long time tenants, Bradley-First Air aviation and eastern Ontario's air ambulance service.

The challenge for Tailwind Estates is eastern Ontario's miserable winter weather and its effect on private aviation. The developers who claim to have pre-sold at least 30% of the estate lots are optimistic. Tailwind will be the largest such community in Canada and likely, with the exception of communities near New York City and Chicago, one of a handful that operate in our winter climate.

Carp is within spitting distance of Scotia Bank Place and the high-flyers of many types in the Silicon Valley North enclaves of Kanata. If it's going to succeed it can't be better positioned.

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