Florida Rental Offers Escape With Oceanfront, Airstrip Views

This fly-in vacation home on North Captiva Island offers a hangar, airstrip access, and Gulf of Mexico scenery.

Aerial view of North Captiva Island and Salty Approach runway. [Courtesy: Nate Altman]

There is no doubt that the Salty Approach is one of the more unique airstrips in the U.S. The seaside landing site on North Captiva Island, Florida, is a gateway for dozens of families who all come to escape from the demands of daily life.

Nate Altman was first introduced to the island in 2006 when his in-laws started vacationing there. He was impressed with the prime vacation spot since his first visit.

“We are originally from Minnesota, and when we were newly engaged, my wife’s parents rented a house on North Captiva for the month of January,” Altman said. “They did that for two years in a row, and we thought this was the most amazing place. There were no vehicles and it felt remote. Yet, we still had all of the comforts of home. We have rented here a fair number of times and have always enjoyed it.”

Even as the Altman family grew and life became busier, it was always a priority to spend quality time together. They returned to the island in 2020 and the reintroduction was the inspiration for a new fly-in vacation rental that was completed in April.

The Altman family in front of their Bonanza and fly-in rental, Isle Escape. [Courtesy: Nate Altman]

“We had always kind of had it in our mind that we would fly in one day,” Altman said. “So, we rented a place here several years ago from a fellow pilot. We came back again, just my wife, me, and our three kids, and fell in love with it all over again. While logistics for this type of vacation are more than a mainland vacation, what you get is escaping the usual Florida spring break crowd and a sense of peace and tranquility not found on mainland Florida.

“There was one final lot on the runway. Although it was earlier than I expected to buy, we pulled the trigger and did it anyway. The feeling of flying to the island is that of being transported to a different country without customs hassles. What we had in our mind for Isle Escape is exactly how we created it.

“Number one, we wanted it to be a short-term rental, for the simple fact that we can’t use it ourselves that often. And second, because we had rented on the island a fair number of times, we knew we wanted a lot where we could see the water. Our runway access lot (with landing rights for visiting pilots) also comes with two golf carts.”

Isle Escape is a 365-day-a-year rental. Other than its good weather and being a place that’s easily accessible for many GA pilots, Altman highlighted some of the key aspects of the four-bedroom, six-bathroom, fly-in rental with a 30-by 40-foot hangar. 

Salty Approach Airport (FL90) has a turf runway, of which roughly 1,900 feet is usable. It’s a private airstrip for members and member guests only. [Courtesy: Nate Altman]

“There is also about a mile of trails and most of the island is a bird sanctuary," he said. "There are two sides of the island, the bayside and the inland side. Sometimes it’s windy on one side or the other. Depending on the day, there’s kayaking available, and there’s always biking on the trails. Then there’s an island club with two large pools, and there are several restaurants in operation. There is also a boat rental facility on the island, which is great for homeowners and visitors.”

Altman said that the reception to the new short-term rental accommodation has been great so far. He added a precaution that the airstrip’s short length can be a challenge but is easily managed by those with short-field experience. 

“Well, obviously, the short field takeoff and landing, being honed in on those skills and knowing your numbers really close [is important],” he said. “I spent a good amount of time planning before we flew in here for the first time. I went to a long grass strip near my house and actually measured out the exact same distance as Salty Approach’s runway. I did it on a hot day, fully loaded, just to see what my actual numbers were because, as we know, the book doesn’t really tell the truth with your specific airplane. But even with that, I was still nervous the first time. Once we did it, it was no big deal. The runway’s length scares a lot of people but there are no obstacles on either side, which makes a difference.”

Altman says one of his family’s favorite things is to sit atop Isle Escape’s crow’s nest (10-by-10-foot deck atop the home), which overlooks the Gulf of Mexico. [Courtesy: Nate Altman]

Most North Captiva Island visitors, however, access the island another way.

“While flying is the most exciting option, the majority of guests travel by water taxi from Pine Island," Altman said. "It leaves every couple of hours throughout the day and takes about 30 minutes, which is also a relaxing way to arrive by seeing turquoise water and the occasional pod of dolphins while on the boat. Some guests even take their own boat to the island and rent a slip for the week for a nominal fee.” 

Grant Boyd is a private pilot with eight years of experience in aviation business, including marketing, writing, customer service, and sales. Boyd holds a Bachelor's and a Master's of Business Administration degree, both from Wichita State University, and a Doctor of Education degree from Oklahoma State University. He was chosen as a NBAA Business Aviation "Top 40 Under 40" award recipient in 2020.

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