Nearly every aviator has heard of Oshkosh, but are you familiar with Triple Tree? If you’re a pilot or aviation enthusiast, the Triple Tree Aerodrome in South Carolina is the place to be every year for one week in September. This year, the annual Triple Tree Fly-In was held September 19 to 25.
At the 2022 fly-in, the private field saw more than 1,700 aircraft movements and hosted more than 800 aircraft. Pilots can fly-in for a day, multiple days—or spend the entire week camping with their aircraft and socializing. A commercial kitchen and club house constructed on the site serve nightly barbecue fare, and permanent bathhouses give campers a chance to shower and refresh themselves. There are also 100 camping sites for RVs with water and electrical hookups.
Amphibious aircraft are also welcome to join in the “fun, fellowship, and hospitality”—which is what Triple Tree delivers, according to its website. The aerodrome has a lake with a landing surface measuring 4,000 feet by 200 feet; however, pilots should call ahead before attempting a water landing. A private airport, the lake and Triple Tree’s 7,000-by-400-foot grass strip (SC00) are closed to public use, except during scheduled fly-in events.
Operated as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, Triple Tree relies upon volunteers and contributions to fund its year-round programs, which include Aviation Centered Education, youth outreach, and scholarships.
In addition to the September event, Triple Tree hosts several other annual fly-ins. Its Young Aviators Fly-In, held the second weekend in June, is the only U.S. fly-in operated entirely by aviators under the age of 25. The annual gathering includes educational seminars, career programs, and Young Eagles flights.
But Triple Tree is not only a venue for general aviation pilots, its radio-control (RC)/model aircraft events have an almost cult-like following. The biggest is Joe Nall Week. Each May, it draws tens of thousands of spectators and RC pilots with model aircraft of all sizes from across the U.S. and internationally.
Round out your visit to the area with a trip to nearby Greenville, South Carolina. The city has a variety of recreational and entertainment options—including college football and basketball, minor league baseball, and minor league ice hockey.
The Lay of the Land
Located in the heart of South Carolina’s Upcountry region—in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains—the Greenville-Spartanburg area is known for its rivers, lakes, waterfalls, wooded forests, and scenic highways.
Triple Tree borders the Enoree River to the south, an 85-mile tributary of the Broad River. A South Carolina Blueway, the Enoree beckons paddlers and anglers to its shores. Fly-in visitors can watch general aviation aircraft land and takeoff at Triple Tree field—then stroll to the river to watch red-shouldered hawks and barred owls soar in search of prey.
Bring your rod and reel, and you may have fresh fish to take back to camp for dinner. The river is known for its plentiful catfish, red-eye bass, and bream. You can also paddle and fish in the three lakes at Triple Tree—just keep a lookout, when on the main lake, for amphibs on approach.
With average temperatures that range from 34 degrees Fahrenheit in the winter to 90 degrees F in the summer, and 51 inches of rainfall a year, they call it Greenville for a reason.
There’s no doubt that the most popular activity at Triple Tree is mingling with fellow aviators as they fly in and create an ever-evolving static display of increasing proportion. But the aviation destination also offers 6 miles of walking trails, a hangar full of vintage and RC aircraft to peruse, and a replica of Monet’s Garden in Giverny, France. The field’s restored World War II (advisory) control tower also merits an up-close inspection.
Hikers and cyclists can choose from a variety of trails in the Greenville area, including Swamp Rabbit. The 22-mile, multi-use transportation trail system runs adjacent to and over Reedy River, and it provides access to several communities, including downtown Greenville. Further north, at Paris Mountain State Park, there are a variety of trails that range in distance and skill level for hikers and mountain bikers to enjoy. Plus, tent and RV camping sites are also available at the park.
Closer to town, Greenville’s Falls Park is a popular gathering place. The park’s 345-foot-long, curved suspension bridge—the Liberty Bridge—is unique in the U.S. because of its geometry, design, and construction. The bridge gives pedestrians a front and center view of Reedy River Falls, and the site where the city’s first trading post was constructed in 1768. The park also hosts public art, including permanent works by Dale Chihuly, Bryan Hunt, and Joel Shapiro.
Nearby Roper Mountain Science Center with its T.C. Hooper Planetarium—the state’s largest—offers Starry Night experiences every Friday night. The center is also home to the nation’s eighth largest refractor telescope. Check the website for stargazing opportunities.
Located in the most populous county in the state, the city of Greenville, 35 miles northwest of Triple Tree, offers a perfect opportunity to extend your time in the region. A cultural center for the Upcountry, the city is home to a number of museums and the Center for Creative Arts. The Greenville County Museum of Art is known for its impressive exhibit of Andrew Wyeth watercolors. It claims to have the world’s “largest and most complete” collection of Wyeth watercolor art owned by a public museum.
While you’re here, enjoy a performance of the Greenville Symphony Orchestra, which is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year, and be sure to take the kids to the 80,000-square-foot Children’s Museum of the Upstate—the seventh largest children’s museum in the U.S.
Baseball fans can watch the Greenville Drive, the Class A affiliate of the Boston Red Sox, play at Fluor Field, and visit the Shoeless Joe Jackson Museum and Baseball Library, which honors baseball legend, “Shoeless Joe,” who along with seven other White Sox players was accused of conspiring with gambling bookies to “throw” the 1919 World Series. Despite being acquitted in court, the players were banned from Major League Baseball.
Depending on the season, add a college football or basketball game to your schedule. Furman University, a member of the NCAA Southern Conference, is located in Greenville, and Clemson University, an NCAA Atlantic Coast Conference team, is just 30 miles away.
Greenville also has an “AA” ice hockey team. The Swamp Rabbits, members of the ECHL, play in the Bon Secours Wellness Arena, which also hosts top-name performers and concerts.
Named the No. 1 “Under-the-Radar Southern Food Destination” by Zagat and one of “The South’s Tastiest Towns” by Southern Living, Greenville is fast-becoming a dining hotspot. With more than 100 restaurants downtown and more than 1,000 more in the county, Greenville offers a diversity of cuisine, from southern barbecue to classic French and Italian and everything in between.
Are you a beer fan? The city has a growing number of craft breweries, and a local bus company offers a Hoppy Trails Brewery Tour. The Greenville Craft Beer Festival, held annually in November, is also popular.
The Triple Tree Aerodrome’s founder, Pat Hartness, grew up in Greenville and started flying control-line aircraft at the age of 7. He hosted his first fly-ins at his family’s property in Greenville in 1983. Needing more space, in 1997, Hartness purchased the 400-acre property near Woodruff, South Carolina—part of the former Kilgore Plantation—with a dream of creating an aviation destination for RC and GA enthusiasts. Recognizing the importance of safeguarding the events and the venue that he created for posterity, in 2010, Hartness established the nonprofit organization—The Triple Tree Aerodrome—and gifted the property to the organization so that it could serve the community in perpetuity.
The Upcountry is also known for its Revolutionary War battlefields. The Battle of Musgrove Mill State Historic Site, 16 miles south of Triple Tree, commemorates the August 19, 1780, battle between the British forces and American colonists. In Gaffney, an hour’s drive north of Triple Tree, the Cowpens National Battlefield preserves the site of the 1781 battle that signaled the “turning point of the war in the South.”
Local Events & Festivals
|November 5, 2022:||Greenville Craft Beer Festival, Fluor Field|
|January 14, 2023:||Frosty Dog (radio-control event), Triple Tree Aerodrome|
|March 24-26, 2023:||Uncle John’s Fly-In (GA), Triple Tree Aerodrome|
|May 12-20, 2023:||Joe Nall Week (radio-control event), Triple Tree Aerodrome|
|September 18-24, 2023:||Triple Tree Fly-In (GA), Triple Tree Aerodrome|
This article was first published in the 2022 Southeast Adventure Guide of FLYING Magazine.