Scott Weckler and his wife have parallel careers.
“Shelley and I both do all the exact same things. We are both pilots, air traffic controllers, and realtors. We copy each other, basically. And you can tell that we must be very popular at parties. Because if people don’t like us because we are FAA [employees], they don’t like us because we are realtors,” he joked.
The two met at an airport, “a long time ago in San Diego,” and their mutual love for aviation has been a shared interest ever since. For more than a decade, they spent their time in cockpits in Florida and the Caribbean—Scott working several Part 135 jobs and Shelley delivering flight instruction.
Then in 2014, the Wecklers transitioned from their flying careers to become air traffic controllers, with the goal of being home more often with their newborn son. Both were picked up by the FAA on the same bid and began their tower careers in the Northeast; Shelley manning the tower at Boston Executive and Scott working for Boston Center.
In 2018, they moved to Nashville, Tennessee, to be closer to Shelley’s parents. Not only has this move proven to be positive on a personal level, but it has also been beneficial professionally as well. That positive impact is surprisingly the byproduct of the COVID-19 pandemic on the couple’s day jobs.
“During lockdowns, they locked down our facility. We used to do tours and bring in groups for pilot outreach because a lot of controllers aren’t pilots, and a lot of pilots don’t really understand what happens on our end. So, we just started going out of the facility once things started coming out of lockdown and did a lot of speaking engagements. Those were really well received, and we tried to take the knowledge that we have from both the pilot side, the air traffic side, and blend them together. We have really been trying to be aviation advocates to help increase awareness and safety in our area here around Nashville,” Shelley said.
Ultimately, these interactions with fellow aviators at area airports led the Wecklers to become real estate agents specializing in aviation property.
“Being involved in the industry for a long time has proven beneficial in the niche market of aviation real estate,” said Scott. “Most realtors that are asked to help with any sort of aviation community or project, such as a private grass airstrip, don’t know the difference between a Cessna Citation and a Cessna 152. As a result, we try to build connections with all the airparks, communities, and private airstrips in Tennessee and the surrounding states just to offer support—even if it’s just consulting.”
Not only do the husband-and-wife duo speak the lingo of flying with buyers they work with, they also occasionally share the cockpit with them. That ability, they say, is especially useful when working with those that are not nearby.
“We have a couple of homes on the market right now and a lot of times, people will fly directly to the properties to look at them. We try to do this as much as possible. That way, they can get a feel for the community by flying in to see if it would be a good fit for them,” he advised. “It really depends on the property, but I would say that recently a lot of buyers have been from out of state. There has been a huge influx of general aviation traffic, and there are so many people moving into Tennessee from other states, since it’s a wonderful place to live.”
Shelley followed Scott’s statement, expressing that fly-in communities near them allow residents to be removed from the action of the city. But they are not so far removed that it’s a hindrance to daily life. “The great thing about these airparks is that they are not necessarily nestled in Nashville, but they are so close,” she said. “That way, people that want to be in the area can live in these communities and there are so many other airports in Nashville, so they are only a 15-minute flight into town.”
“We’ve got quite a few unique aviation communities in Tennessee, including a ton of private airstrips. There is a good mix of properties, from quiet grass strips to more commercial operations—so there is something for everyone here,” she added.
“One of the interesting properties that we are working with right now is about an hour south of Nashville, at Tullahoma Municipal Airport (KTHA), which is a city-owned airport,” said Scott. “It’s got instrument approaches, lights, a full FBO, maintenance, and fuel. Everything is maintained by the city, but they have a through-the-fence agreement with Chandelle Airpark where there are roughly 15 homes. As a result of this agreement, these resident pilots have the ability to fly an instrument approach, at night, into a paved 5,500-foot runway and taxi right into their hangar, which is a pretty unique thing that we’ve seen. There aren’t too many airparks out there like that, as most are privately owned and maintained. But this is a deeded through-the-fence agreement, which is pretty rare.”
Regardless of how many great aviation communities the Wecklers say there are near Nashville and throughout the Volunteer State—it’s important that continued efforts are focused on attracting the next generation of aviators to them.
“Getting families into these properties that are interested in aviation, to get that next generation excited about these airparks to keep them going is going to be something that’s very important,” said Shelley. “Because a lot of times you go to these airparks, and it’s a big group of older people. Getting younger families in there and getting that exposure, showing them that this kind of lifestyle is an option, is crucial.”
“Especially with all of the remote work that is going on these days, many people are not having to go into the office every day,” she continued. “Living a little outside the city, with a commute and potentially being able to fly in a few days a week is beneficial to people—especially that younger generation, finding people with children that grow up in this environment will be what preserves airparks’ legacies going forward. Once those communities are gone, they are really difficult to get back.”
You can follow the couple’s aviation real estate journey on Instagram @propertypilots.