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.