Celebrating July 4th: Six Patriotic Flying Destinations

While a visit to Liberty Island is a great experience on the ground, pilots can enjoy dramatic views of Lady Liberty from aloft by flying low over the Hudson River. [File photo: Shutterstock]

One of the ways I try to stay busy as a private pilot is by making lists of places I would like to visit that are reasonably accessible through general aviation. To help keep things organized I group my prospective trips based on themes, as some readers might already know.

Sometimes appropriate themes are frustratingly difficult to find because a category that seems promising might turn out to be too specific or obscure. This week, however, with the July 4th holiday coming up, finding destinations tied to Revolutionary War history and independence clearly is the right path. The good news is that there are plenty of candidates for the wish list. As usual, the most difficult task will be budgeting time for the planned trips. 

Below are six patriotic destinations that are worth the effort of a few careful schedule alterations. 

[Courtesy: National Park Service]

Minute Man National Historical Park

Concord, Massachusetts, Laurence G. Hanscom Field (KBED)

While there is a Minute Man Air Field (6B6) in Massachusetts, Hanscom is much closer to this 970-acre park that includes parts of Lexington, Concord and Lincoln. This is where the first battles of the Revolutionary War took place on April 19, 1775. Significant sites include Lexington Common where the first shots rang out during a brief conflict, and the North Bridge in Concord, where colonial militia members attacked English troops for the first time, inflicting casualties.

[Courtesy: Washington Crossing Historic Park]

Washington Crossing Historic Park

Washington Crossing, Pennsylvania

Within the park’s 500 acres is the spot where George Washington conducted his famous crossing of the Delaware River from Pennsylvania into New Jersey. The area includes McConkey’s Ferry Inn, where Washington and his aides made plans for the crossing, and a dozen other historic buildings. Visitors can also see replica Durham Boats, which transported soldiers, horses and equipment across the river on Christmas night 1776. Local groups use the boats for annual reenactments of the event.

Statue of Liberty

New York City

Although it arrived about a century after the Revolution, the statue has become a nearly universal symbol of freedom and democracy. While  a visit to Liberty Island is a great experience on the ground, pilots can enjoy dramatic views of Lady Liberty from aloft by flying low over the Hudson River. You will need to be familiar with the New York terminal area chart and special flight rules that apply in the special VFR corridor over the river. You will also need to  announce your position to Air Traffic Control as you pass certain landmarks. Download a kneeboard reference from the FAA website with instructions on flying the course and lists of requirements.

[Courtesy: Lebanon, Connecticut]

Trumbull War Office

Lebanon, Connecticut, Windham Airport (KIJD)

Jonathan Trumbull was governor of Connecticut, both as a colony and a state, from 1769 to 1784. During the Revolution, the store and office where he operated a provisions business became the headquarters for planning the colony’s defense. Hundreds of meetings of Connecticut’s Council of Safety took place in the building that came to be known as the War Office. George Washington is said to have counted on Trumbull’s experience in the supply business for getting gear for the Continental Army. Many military leaders including Washington, Henry Knox and the Marquis de Lafayette are said to have met with Trumbull in the War Office.

[Courtesy: Colonial Williamsburg]

Colonial Williamsburg

Williamsburg, Virginia, Williamsburg-Jamestown Airport (KJGG)

There is a special place in my aviation heart for Williamsburg-Jamestown because it was my destination for the cross-country flight planning portion of the exam for my pilot certificate. The 18th Century living history attraction is all about life in Virginia’s colonial capital in the days leading to the American Revolution. There are events throughout the July 4th weekend and on Independence Day the schedule of reenactments, readings, performances and more begins at 9:30 a.m. with a reading of the Declaration of Independence and wraps up with a fireworks display starting at 8 p.m.

[Courtesy: Monmouth Battlefield State Park]

Monmouth Battlefield State Park

Monmouth, New Jersey, Monmouth Executive Airport (KBLM)

The Battle of Monmouth was fought near Monmouth Court House on June 28, 1778 with George Washington’s Continental Army facing General Henry Clinton’s British regulars. The day-long battle unfolded with units maneuvering for advantage in the woods and on the hills and farm fields on and around the land that makes up the battlefield park today. Washington and his men, who had trained at Valley Forge during the winter, came away with a much-needed victory following a series of demoralizing defeats the previous year.

Jonathan Welsh is a private pilot who worked as a reporter, editor and columnist with the Wall Street Journal for 21 years, mostly covering the auto industry. His passion for aviation began in childhood with balsa-wood gliders his aunt would buy for him at the corner store. Follow Jonathan on Twitter @JonathanWelsh4

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