Brittany Oligney has enjoyed a multifaceted aviation career, both in the military and as a civilian. Her first flight in a general aviation airplane was in junior high, with her uncle, who was a bush pilot in Alaska. Oligney recalled that her ambitions quickly turned skyward, and she would go on to get her private pilot certificate and instrument rating in high school. At the time, she carefully considered her career prospects and decided to attend the U.S. Air Force Academy.
Graduating in May 2007 with a bachelor’s degree in aeronautical engineering, she completed undergraduate pilot training before serving in a different capacity. After leaving the Air Force, she co-founded a military-to-airlines transition company before changing roles and working on incorporating improvements to the F-16’s radar system.
Oligney advised, like many other aviators, that her favorite part about aviation is the people. Her ability and desire to connect with others was the catalyst for her most recent title change to “airpark developer.”
“WT Airpark [90TT] was dreamed up by three landowners here in Waelder, Texas,” said Oligney. “These landowners owned adjacent properties that made this beautiful 300-acre tract. They are all pilots, aviation enthusiasts. My family owns a tree farm in the area, which I was visiting a few years ago. As pilots do, we were talking, and they mentioned their interest in putting in a runway. They offered me the opportunity to take the land and turn it into an airpark. It’s been my dream to live with my plane for many years. I wasn’t actually planning to build it myself, but it’s a fun bonus.”
Part of this enjoyment is because of who she is working with to create this new fly-in community, a little more than an hour’s drive from both Austin and San Antonio.
“I don’t think I could have put together a better team if I had hand-picked them,” she said, noting that her experience thus far has been very positive. “One is a business owner who has started and grown multiple businesses. He’s been instrumental on the land development side, making sure that everything is done correctly and that this is going to be, financially and business wise, a solid project. One is a surveyor and has been doing survey work his whole life. I think he knows every blade of grass on that property, and he comes with his own [heavy] equipment. Then one is a community leader and has been for many years. So, he is very passionate about improving and growing the community.
“The combination of the team has been very effective, and I think it’s going to make the airpark really successful. We are starting with a 4,000-foot-long airstrip. I wish I could call it grass, but it was a very hot summer here in Texas, so round one of Bermuda grass has not taken very well. We will be doing a few more rounds to get the grass coming in and we will be adding lights, paving it, and putting in an approach here eventually, as well. And then we’ve also left room for a second [5,000-foot long] runway, because as cities grow, they tend to encroach and then you don’t have any space to grow. If owners want to bring in light jets in the future, that’s definitely an option.”
There has been a lot of work to get the project to where it is now. The team started with an empty piece of land, without an airstrip.
“The airpark has been in the works for about two years. The runway was graded and developed at the beginning of 2023,” she said. “As it turns out, building a runway is not very difficult. Subdividing land, that’s a different story. That’s not difficult, per se, but it is a process. So, we’ve been working through that and making sure everything is done correctly. We’re working with the county because this is something we would like to benefit the community. We are trying to make sure they’re on board [with the development] and they like what we’re doing.”
A communal gathering spot is planned, where Oligney expects residents to come together for bonfires and cookouts. There will also be a pond and a walking trail, with other amenities possible in the future.
“Our goal is to treat this as a phased development project,” she said. “Phase one is going to be twelve two acre lots, and then the next few phases will be another 14 lots and 16 lots. We’ve left the remaining land, which is another 100 acres or so, that we can either custom divide for people who have other ideas and want to build differently, or we will continue to subdivide. There’s room to grow, dream, build what you want to build. That’s one of the things I love about this airpark—there’s still space to do whatever you want to do.
“When you go to buy something on an airpark that’s already developed, you get what is available, and it’s already very defined. I love the space [that we have here] and the opportunity to dream a little, to figure out what you want to do and make it happen. We’re very excited to offer that opportunity to people and to grow and develop this into a great community of aviation enthusiasts who want to create something wonderful.”
As a relative newcomer to airpark development, Oligney has leaned on her decade plus of business experience and adept networking skills to successfully get the project to where it is today.
“I’ve talked to a few people that are starting to develop airparks because, with any big project, there are so many lessons learned as you go along,” she said. “My biggest advice would be when you start the process, get on forums and talk with other airparks because other owners or developers are very eager to share what they learned. For a lot of them, it’s too late for them to make course corrections, but they are very eager to help out others. Their help has been instrumental in getting WT Airpark going.”
Video: WT Airpark