Lucky Ducks: Locating Community at Mallards Landing

This active residential airpark south of Atlanta features a 4,500 foot-long turf runway and hosts two fly-ins a year.

Mallards Landing Airpark (GA04) in Locust Grove, Georgia, features a 4,500-foot-long turf runway. [Courtesy: Leigh Hubner/Hangar 145]

Mallards Landing Airpark (GA04) in Locust Grove, Georgia, featuring a 4,500-foot-long turf runway,. has been  home for Leigh Hubner and his family for nearly a decade. 

“It’s a crazy story how we got here at Mallards Landing,” said Hubner of the fly-in community south of Atlanta. “My wife and I lived in Los Angeles, where I had a Decathlon out in Van Nuys. But I was keen to get a Christian Eagle and had been looking around, when one popped up in Georgia for sale that I really liked. I agreed to look at it, and I blame the era we live in where you put an address in the GPS and just follow it until you get there. So, I didn’t actually stop to notice the plane was at an airpark.

“I just thought I was going to an airport. So, when I drove around the corner following the GPS and pulled into a neighborhood where there were planes parked in the driveways I went, ‘What the hell is this? This is awesome!’"

Hubner decided to hang around a little longer than necessary after shaking hands to purchase the aircraft. He wanted to see more of Mallards Landing. 

A Stearman in the pattern at Mallards Landing Airpark. [Courtesy: Leigh Hubner/Hangar 145]

“I’ve never seen anything like this. Everyone here was super hospitable, right from the start,” he said. “It was late in the afternoon, and we jumped on the golf cart and went for a cruise. I was just thinking, ‘Holy heck, this is the coolest place on Earth.’ I loved it so much. That was my introduction to Mallards Landing.”

It was such an intriguing place that he wanted his wife to see it for herself.

“Kamilla rang me and asked about the plane I had looked at,” he said. “I said, ‘Forget the Eagle, babe, this is the coolest neighborhood in the world. Then two weeks later when I came back to look at the Eagle again, Kamilla came with me.

“She agreed, like, yeah, this is something else. So, we started looking and there were no houses for sale here. We were clicking on every house to work out what was going on and saw one where we could see that six months earlier it had been listed for sale, that they’d removed the listing. We just went and knocked on their door and said, ‘Look, this is just a strange question, but we see you were trying to sell the house but now it’s not for sale.”

Fortunately for the Hubners, the gentleman provided a number that was in their price range. So shortly after visiting the community for the first time, they moved across the country to Georgia in November 2017. And the Christian Eagle Hubner purchased never left Mallards.

Leigh Hubner and his son Archie. [Courtesy: Leigh Hubner/Hangar 145]

“One of the big highlights is the community here,” Hubner said. “The neighborhood itself is great in the sense that, OK, yes, there’s the runway, there’s flying, there’s the horse stables, the big pool, tennis courts, and a playground for the kids. But if you actually do get involved, there’s really, really amazing groups of people here. We saw this pretty early on and it’s a real community energy.” 

A recent milestone event for one of the families in the community showcased how the residents in Mallards are quick to come together and support one another.

“One of our new neighbors just recently had a baby,” he said. “Instantly, there’s a whole group that started meal trains and for the next, who knows, two months, they won’t need to cook a meal. And if you break something, you send out an email and someone in the neighborhood will have that tool, or part, or screw, or whatever it is. I feel pretty confident saying everyone here knows how amazing this place is.”

The community is very active, with a healthy mix of aircraft that includes a number of vintage tailwheel aircraft, including Stearman biplanes, T-6s, and Bird Dogs. Mallards hosts two fly-ins per year, with spot landing contests, flour bombing, Young Eagles flights, food, comradery, and more.

Hubner said that he and his wife have to remind their kids, who have only ever lived at the airpark, how unique it is to have a runway in their backyard. 

The Hubner family. [Courtesy: Leigh Hubner/Hangar 145]

“Another thing we are super thankful for, having visited other airparks, is that we’ve got a really active community on the flying front,” Hubner said. “We’ve been to some airparks where maybe they’re a little older crowd and only two or three residents fly. Mallards Airpark has an energy to it and maybe 80 to 90 percent of our residents fly. And if you saw this video I posted, the kids are in their little jeep ripping around and racing a Stearman down the runway as it lands. Like, how is this real? You know, it’s just nuts, and we pinch ourselves daily of what we have here.”

You can see a glimpse into Hubner’s airpark life on Instagram @hangar145.

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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