When John Naugle of Lewisville, Texas, first stepped foot into the cockpit, he had no idea aviation would become intertwined with his career and passion—real estate. Now, only a few short years later, Naugle has become a respected member of the aviation real estate industry, focusing on representing buyers and sellers of residential airpark properties in the red-hot Dallas-Fort Worth area.
“My background is property management, and I worked in the apartment industry for a long time,” Naugle said. “Then three years back, I got licensed in real estate, and at that time I was a student pilot. But I started out just doing traditional residential real estate. Then I met a gentleman named Russ Keith, who lived right across the street from my mom. One day I was walking my dog with my wife from her house, and I noted that Russ was in his garage working on an airplane. I go, ‘What’s going on here?’ He told me that he is a pilot and is building a little two-place biplane. Lo and behold, I look over and see that he is also in real estate.”
Naugle was surprised that his longtime neighbor was interested in the same things he was. What were the chances? The two hit it off immediately.
“At the time, I had recently started a group called Airplanes and Coffee with Mike Roberts, who was the person who first got me into aviation,” Naugle said. “I had found out about Cars and Coffee and thought it would be great to do something similar, where a group of friends meets up at the airport once a month to hang out and talk about aviation. I invited Russ to one of these events, and the next thing I know, he’d become a well-established part of the group, and I started working for him at his company, Boomtown Brokerage.”
Naugle finished up his private pilot training shortly after making the move to the new company. After joining forces, the two pilots decided to shift much of their daily focus to the niche industry of aviation real estate almost exclusively.
“We have sold a lot of property out at Thompson Field (1TA7) in Canton, Texas, over 30 lots there last year and basically finished up that community,” he said. “Now we have another community that we are the exclusive team selling runway lots, Aero Village in Krum, Texas. The neighborhood, which consists of 14 homesites, is based around Bird Dog Airfield (E58).
“We have just been rocking and rolling and having a lot of fun selling airpark homes to pilots and trying to save these communities from nonpilots moving in that don’t care about the runway or aviation focus. They just want to use the hangar for cars, or whatever else. It is a huge benefit as pilots to help get other aviators into airparks.
“Not only can we travel to all of the airpark communities around quite easily, also having the same experiences as our clients is important. Some pilots really care a lot about having a paved runway; others are fine with a grass strip or even prefer one. There are so many differences in airparks around here, not to mention the differences between airparks and traditional neighborhoods. We understand the different types of fly-in communities and the homes there, which we can communicate well to our potential buyers.”
Naugle pointed out that Texas is a great place to be involved in aviation real estate. And he said it is an exciting job for him to understand the diverse fly-in communities nearby and showcase them to others.
“Here in North Texas, there is a huge population of not only pilots but also airparks,” he said. “We have a lot of transplants from out of state that are interested in property here. DFW is booming, and a lot of people are getting jobs around here and want to be within an hour of Dallas Fort Worth International [KDFW] or Love Field [KDAL], for example, and we do our best to help them find that right home.”
Naugle provided a brief overview of some of the airparks in the area:
Pecan Plantation (0TX1)/The Landings (66TE)
Pecan Plantation offers a unique opportunity to live in one of the most amenity-rich communities in Texas. It features a full-service clubhouse, activity center, pools, golf, tennis, marina, equestrian center, riverside parks, and access to Lake Granbury. It has two airport runways, and both airparks are in the same enormous community. The Landings is the newest section and is currently selling lots.
Airpark Dallas (F69)
This airpark community is located in the heart of Plano, one of the most desirable cities in North Texas. World-class shopping and entertainment are just a stone’s throw away from this marvelous community.
Eagles Nest Estates (T56)
This is one of the most active flying communities in the entire DFW area. You can find groups of pilots flying together in formation almost daily.
Between its gorgeous 3,000-by-60-foot asphalt runway and the number of warbirds that call this airpark home, this community is a local favorite.
Hidden Valley Airpark (5TX0)
Hidden Valley Airpark is one of the premier fly-in communities in the country. This beautiful 300-acre gated-community offers families a unique landing place to call home.
Naugle advised that he has learned a lot from his business partner, Russ Keith, both about real estate and aviation. The two can routinely be seen flying in North Texas in a Cessna 172 and are always happy to lend a helping hand to those looking to capitalize on the dream of living alongside their aircraft.
“Russ has over 30 years of real estate experience, so he has a huge following,” Naugle said. “He went from zero flight time to CFII in only 102 days. I love to harp on that because that’s pretty unique. He’s just a swell guy, and I’m really grateful to be partnered up with him.
“Being active in the aviation community is super helpful for our business. We are always at fly-ins or hosting fly-ins with Airplanes and Coffee, and are active with several different aviation groups. We also travel to Sun ’n Fun in the spring and EAA AirVenture in the summer each year. Outside of that, we regularly go to these aviation communities and are friends with the pilots there. We love what we do, so jump at the chance to go check out a new hangar home or go see someone’s new airplane. Really being completely involved with aviation is what it is all about for us and keeps us in the loop.”
Living alongside your airplane is a dream come true for many. Naugle leaves a parting thought for pilots who may be considering joining the airpark lifestyle: “Do it! The most common regret we hear from clients is how they wish they would have made the decision sooner. If you love flying and spending your time around aircraft, there is no place better to live than an airpark.”