Eric Larson and Valerie Talbot aim to share their aviation experiences with the masses through their popular YouTube channel, Skyline Baron Pilot. The channel follows the two pilots as they fly their Beechcraft Baron B58TC around the southeastern U.S. as well as the Caribbean.
Eric was the first one of the pair to learn how to fly and similarly was the first who wanted to live at a residential airpark. He spent a considerable amount of effort trying to get into the airpark lifestyle, finally breaking the barrier in 2013.
Their new home at Antiquers Aerodrome (FD08) in Delray Beach, Florida, has proved to be a great base of operations for the married couple’s various flying memories.
“I grew up about two miles from the airport, but never knew it existed because I wasn’t a pilot. I really wasn’t looking for an airport community, but then I became a pilot. While I was looking at the sectional charts, I wondered what ‘PVT’ meant. After learning that it meant private, I drove over and checked out the airport,” Eric says.
“It’s a gated community, so I would go there to wait for someone to let me in. Once I was in, I would go and talk to random people—asking how I could get a house in there. I spent a lot of time at the airport, expressing my interest in moving there. That’s how it happens a lot at airparks, because there’s not often a lot of homes that go up for sale. I got through the gate and became acquainted with some board members and just about every day I would come in asking, ‘has anyone passed away…is anyone moving…is anything happening?’ I was clearly a nuisance.”
After about nine months of persistence, Eric finally caught a realtor that was putting a for sale sign in a front yard. Eager that something finally became available, he immediately jumped out of his car, started a conversation, and made a deal to buy the house within a day.
According to the couple, the lifestyle of living at a fly-in community has been everything they thought it would be and more. They both claim that their lives would be markedly different if they lived in a “normal” neighborhood.
“You want to be 100 percent immersed in aviation living here. You want to be a pilot living in a community like this, or an aviation enthusiast. If you didn’t like aviation, living at an airpark wouldn’t have the same energy. It wouldn’t have the same appeal. And it wouldn’t have the magic that it does. I say it a lot, but it really is magic,” Eric stated.
A lot of this magic is the result of how easy it is for the two to enjoy one of their premier shared interests, flying. As Aviation Ambassadors for The Bahamas, it’s no surprise that the country is a frequent destination of the two.
“We can fly for only 20, 25 minutes and we are in The Bahamas,” says Valerie. “It is really convenient to be able to fly right from our backyard directly there. We go to Freeport a lot. Grand Bahama—where Freeport is located—is one of the biggest islands, and that’s one of our main ‘home’ islands, we would call it. We know more people there than we do anywhere else in the country, as of now. Eric started going there years, years, and years ago, first by boat as a kid.”
A few years ago, they sought to replicate their positive experience at Antiquers Aerodrome by purchasing a second home at an airpark in northeast Georgia. Buying the hangar home was Valerie’s idea this time.
“Eric actually didn’t want to purchase a home at Heaven’s Landing (GE99), at first,” she says. “Every single time I would stop at their booth at an airshow, I would be drawn by the beauty of the airpark, its homes, and the area where it’s located. I kept telling Eric that ‘we have to go there; we have to go there!’ In the meantime, I got my pilot license and told Eric that this would be a great place to escape from the heat and see beautiful mountain scenery. I just craved that vision.
“One day our instructor had a convention in Nashville, and I wanted to get some cross-country time in the Baron,” she continues. “It worked out to where I would be able to fly there with him and went to Heaven’s Landing as a detour. I told Eric that I had planned the flight and that I had booked a tour with Mike [Ciochetti], the airpark’s developer]. Well, Eric was blown away and thought it was just amazing there. We came back from our trip and Eric began researching the community even more. Maybe six months later, we narrowed it down to a piece of land that we made an offer on. It took me a while to finally convince him and he had to see it firsthand before I was able to.”
Thinking about their shared fly-in community experiences, Eric and Valerie agree on three things that are irreplicable about living at an airpark.
- When your aircraft is your hangared at your home, you’re only seconds from the runway.
- The couple’s mechanic performs their Baron’s annuals and other maintenance at their home.
- An offsite hangar is an unnecessary expense when you have a hangar home.
- 100LL is not marked up at Antiquers, so that saves the couple a considerable amount of money on fuel.
- Being around like-minded pilots and aviation enthusiasts is the best part about living at an airpark, Eric and Valerie contend.
Routinely rubbing elbows with other pilots often leads to impromptu hangar conversations. Eric notes that there are some really interesting aviators that they are fortunate to call their neighbors.
“There are legends of aviation that live in both communities. I mean straight up legends,” he says. “Not to mention there are famous individuals and those who have done a lot for civilization and humankind. There are astronauts, mechanics, war heroes, explorers, military pilots, and other amazing humans. Almost every home is like an encyclopedia of aviation knowledge. We have brought dozens of other pilots to the communities to see them. We give them tours of the neighborhoods and they are blown away.”
“Everyday living here it’s hearing different stories from neighbors,” he continues. “It’s anything from ‘my Cub isn’t running right,’ to ‘I was in Egypt or New York City yesterday.’ A lot of residents have jet-type aircraft, so you hear world stories daily from friends—which is really cool to have over a beer or iced tea. They will knock you on the floor with the stories that you tell. And it’s not a unicorn thing every once in a while, it’s every time!”
Just how the couple has found that curating a YouTube channel has amplified their voice, living at an airpark also allows them to more readily share their flying experiences.
“Everything we do, almost every day, involves aviation. And that’s because we live at an airport. You get to learn more about airplanes this way. I could talk about it for a week and it’s great to be able to share aviation with others. Even when a new neighbor comes in, it’s so cool learning about their journey and where they come from. There’s a lot of sharing between all of us,” Eric concludes.
Reach out to the flying couple if interested in visiting either airpark and they would be more than willing to assist: email@example.com