The 7,000 foot Long Putting Green

September 25th, 2013 by Amy Laboda

You don’t see SC00 right away. I mean, you know what you are looking for—a 7,000 foot long grass strip imbedded in the rolling hills of South Carolina just south of Greenville, but truly, you don’t know until you come up on it for the first time—and I promise you that you have never seen anything quite like it.

You fly over the runway and remark at how you rarely see a grass strip with runway numbers painted on its ends. Even then you don’t really know. You set up on downwind, and note the hump that graces the long runway’s middle. It doesn’t seem as wide as it is from pattern altitude, but as you get closer to the ground, turning base, then final, it begins to dawn on you. This is one heck of a grass strip.

Only with a truly greaser landing do you appreciate what you’ve got, though. The grass isn’t anything like what you’ve ever landed on. It’s the flat, smooth, springy stuff that golf courses use for their putting greens. Seriously. Seven thousand feet of it. Every good landing on that stuff, is, well, phenomenal. Oh, I forgot to add that, if you’ve come in your seaplane, well, you are welcome here, too. There’s a lake created specifically for you to land on, right beside the runway.

And that’s just the beginning of the magic of Triple Tree Aerodrome (and it is an aerodrome, not a plain old airport). The airfield and its surrounding environment is the dream of Pat Hartness, a pilot with a penchant for restoring the old, and encouraging the new. Since he started building out the site in 2000 he’s added a hangar (really a museum dedicated to his restorations and R/C models), a workshop, a 1940s control tower, gazebos, shower facilities, campsites, hiking trails, helicopter sites and more. His goal, he says, is to capture and retain the true spirit of aviation through world-class R/C model flying competitions and full-size aircraft fly-ins that draw thousands.

Hartness has deeded the property into a non-profit in the hopes that his legacy of fun, flying and fellowship will continue into perpetuity. But that takes a little help from us all. What, according to Hartness, have we, the pilots, got to do? We’ve got to fly there, drink the water, hike the trails, enjoy the museum. Use it. Share it. And pass the magic on.

So if you are in the vicinity of Greenville, look just a little south and consider stopping in for an hour, or a day. It’s worth it just for the landing.

Amy Laboda

Amy Laboda has been writing, editing and publishing print materials for more than 28 years on an international scale. From conception to design to production, Laboda helps businesses and associations communicate through various media with their clients, valued donors, or struggling students who aspire to earn scholarships and one day lead. An ATP-rated pilot with multiple flight instructor ratings, Laboda enjoys flying her two experimental aircraft and being active in the airpark community in which she lives.

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The opinions expressed by the bloggers do not reflect AOPA’s position on any topic.

  • Bay Area Flyer

    What a beautiful airport and a wonderful idea. Wouldn’t it be great if there were more places like this!

  • Allen Osborne

    Last month I once again flew down to the (SC00) Triple Tree Flyin for about the 6th year in a row. This year seemed to be the best turnout ever. The place is very nicely maintained and every year new capital improvements are made to the vast property. The Triple Tree staff and volunteers have a wonderful pleasant and positive can do attitude.
    Pat Hartness is a very special member and asset to the general aviation community. Thank you.

  • Six Charlie Tango

    Attended my first fly-in at Triple Tree last month also. Ditto the thanks! Excellent Saturday event for my daughter in the right seat and I sitting left seat. Planes and pilots filled the tree line of Triple Tree like a rouge scouting jamboree. I have nothing but praise to the event organizers and volunteers that managed the bustle of activity. Flying the approach procedure, pilots were calling in from Wally World every thirty seconds or so – continuously! Falling in line behind a Bonanza, our 400 foot wide strip turned into a 200 foot wide strip with ground traffic on the right side of rwy 03. And when the Bonanza did not immediately clear after his rollout – my 7,000 ft runway turned into a 2,000 ft Get’rDown approach with 500 ft of runway already behind me (due to the trees and “drop in” profile of 03). Safely (but not softly) executed my landing and spent the entire time eyeball target-locked on that V-tail in front of me. Departure was also exciting with a long line of aircraft making their exodus on an uphill grass runway. Unless you’re are a STOL, expect to use twice as much runway as your usual asphalt takeoffs. Do it again? Absolutely! But next year I’ll have a “Forward Slip to Landing” club in my golf bag so I can “drop in” and hopefully have a bit more lawn to work with so I can kiss the grass – well, unless my daughter earns her PPL and claims Left Seat and PIC. Then I’m just along for the ride…

  • SECONNJohn

    Tripple Tree holds the worlds largest RC event every May. No other event is even cloose. It’s called the Joe Nall flyin. 1000 Radio Control Pilots fly 3D, Scale, Electric, Float, and Helo’s for a hole week. They not only fly sunrise to sunset, but also at night with planes and helo’s lit up with on-board lights. This is a must bucket list event. This is the Oshkosh of RC.

  • http://www.uncontrolledairspace.com Dave

    Amy talks about this place at length — about 6,995 feet worth — on the upcoming Episode 337 of Uncontrolled Airspace, and hearing it in her own words makes a visit to Triple Tree even more appealing…

  • unclelar

    Nice of you guys to come down in our Caravan and just sit there not talking to anyone or promoting or providing info about the latest at AOPA. Nice gig if you can get it. When are you going to stop wasting our money?

    • Doug Oakley

      Unclelar is absolutely incorrect. The AOPA contingent mixed and mingled, split up into groups and spent their time talking and I might add, listening, to pilots. I’m sorry you apparently didn’t have an opportunity to speak with them. I along with many pilots did, and found them to be very open and receptive to our comments. I couldn’t have been happier to see them attend this event and hope they will continue visiting others.

  • Greg Wright

    unclelar,

    That is NOT correct. The AOPA guys sat aound the Cessna Pilot’s Society until 11:00 pm on Friday night just talking. One of the things that we were glad to hear was that the new president was VERY interested in AOPA getting back to Grass Roots flying. I suspect you’ll see more of them at more of these types of events.

  • http://www.cessna-pilots.net Jeffery Chipetine

    I was one of the crowd that was fortunate to have been at the Cessna Pilots Society tent that evening, and favoured with the company of both Adam Smith formerly (Sr. VP, Center to Advance the Pilot Community), and Chris Eads, (Director of Outreach and Events) of AOPA.

    Both of these guys are fairly new w/ AOPA. and in my mind, well represented something of a touchstone to the ethic and route we might expect from the new blood in this new administration.

    First thing to get out of the way is that both these guys are aviation and people enthusiasts. Their words made this clear, and their enthusiasm also relayed in the manner in which they delivered those words.

    We all had a very frank discussion well into the late hours.They’re well familiar with some of the issues that we ‘Grass-Roots’ pilots feel have been poorly addressed or addressed incorrectly over the last few years. They are also well aware that the pursuit of the ‘big mission’ cannot mean a disconnect from the mainstream. They have some good ideas on how to proceed to re-direct the organization to better serve all the membership.

    It was refreshing and a relief in the same breath. From my perspective, it was obvious that there’s a renewed outlook with promise. The fact is that these gentlemen sat down with us and spoke, but they also really listened. A very candid discussion was conducted in frank terms, and we found a great deal of common ground.

    As aviators, we do need these guys and all the new blood at AOPA to succeed, for they carry a great responsibility for both “the now”, and the future of GA. Neither ego, nor chest puffing occupied these gentlemen, and the common good was the only thing on their agenda. Ties were established, and in they earned my support.

    I feel it is important to allow this new administration some room and opportunity to succeed. The new guys are not responsible for what has passed prior to their arrival, so grousing about yesterday is without benefit. If we offer our support and the succeed, progress will have been made. That potential is as yet unfulfilled, but there is absolutely reason for optimism and renewed expectations. Each of us will have a role to fulfill if this opportunity is to be seized.

    Respectfully,
    Jeffrey Chipetine
    PP/SEL-I

  • M. Greg Johnson

    Very well said Jeffrey. I’ll add that we would not be flying with the liberties we have today were it not for the AOPA, the EAA, and others fighting for our privileges in this country. I very much appreciate their efforts to protect our liberties, and continue to advance general aviation flying. We’ll never agree on all the details of what any organization does, but all in all each era of leadership rises to the occasion to protect general aviation and keep it going for it’s membership. I was at this fly-in for the first time this year (and first time on grass), and I was sitting in the pavilion when the AOPA Caravan landed and taxied up in front. I was pleased to see them there. It was a good mission.
    Thanks very much,
    M. Greg Johnson
    PP/SEL-I

  • http://www.flighttrainingelizabethcity.com Mark

    Although I too have experienced some un-welcomed changes in AOPA over recent years, I am optimistic of the future. It seems they have been listening to the membership. In addition, AOPA’s submission of the petition to eliminate the class III medical for private pilots is VERY significant. I believe that could be the most positive change in the industry in decades; far more positive than anything the Sport Pilot/Aircraft changes have been. I simply wish the FAA would get it in gear and do what is best for the industry and country instead of thinking of doing what’s best for them.

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