Mississippi Airbnb Offers Airport Access With Coastal Charm

The ‘Shangar’ Airbnb located in Diamondhead features a taxiway in the backyard and is a short walk to a fishing dock.

An aerial view of Diamondhead Airport’s (66Y) 3,800-foot asphalt runway. [Courtesy: Betsy Miller]

Like many parents, after the last of their four grown children left home, Betsy and Shane Miller went house shopping. What they ended up with, however, is a home away from home for other aviators located in a Diamonhead, Mississippi, aviation community.

“When we looked at this house, it was way more than we needed," said Betsy Miller. "But we loved it because there is a taxiway right in the backyard, and it’s close to the water, since we like to fish."

Betsy Miller explained that there is “such a different vibe” at Diamondhead Airpark and that the “neighbors are great.” [Courtesy: Betsy Miller]

Miller said she immediately realized the house’s upstairs area could be closed off and turned into an Airbnb. 

“We call it ‘The Shangar,’ because my husband’s name is Shane and it’s in front of our hangar," she said of the home located in the Diamondhead Aviation Community on the Diamondhead Airport (66Y).

"It screams aviation," she said. "As soon as you enter, you are greeted with all of these aviation metal wall signs. Then you go up our taxiway (stairs), which I painted to look like the taxiway outside. Instead of a typical guestbook, we let our guests sign the wall there. And everyone gets really creative with that.”

Even the carpet was chosen for pilots, she said. 

"It’s hotel carpet, that way pilots feel at home," she said. "We also have lots of aviation decor, pictures, and even have a flap off of a CitationJet that was made into a bar in the kitchen. There’s lots of models around and aviation books here. Anything that we could think of, we have it here in the space.” 

Fly-in rentals are a rarity on the popular short-term rental sharing website, Miller said.

“Airbnb doesn’t have a specific category for airport home rentals, although I wish they would. They have unique spaces shown but nothing specific to fly-in properties.” she said. That’s been our only challenge in getting the word out about this space. Our airport manager asked me to make a flyer, and he has it posted for anybody who’s come in for fuel to see. I’ve also posted it everywhere on all these Facebook groups and not sure how to get it out there any better than that.” 

Airbnb Lessons Learned

As for those who are exploring the possibility of creating their own short-term rental, Miller offers a few tips.

“My main tip for anyone considering making their own fly-in Airbnb would be to have a ‘crew’ car available,” she said. "We now have one on site and available for our fly-in guests. Another tip would be to incorporate aviation into your decor; I can't tell you how many compliments I get from guests. Personal touches go a long way. Finally, always have a few bottles of water, coffee, and snacks available as your fly-in guests may need a quick pick me up before they have time to get to a restaurant or local grocery store.”

Aside from being at an airport, the listing stands out from others that are airports, largely because  of its unique interior design elements. Guests aren’t only exposed to aerial elements inside the rental, as it overlooks the adjacent taxiway.

Betsy Miller says the hotel carpet at her fly-in Airbnb was chosen to make pilots feel more at home. [Courtesy: Betsy Miller]

“At the airpark itself, there are no ramp fees and there are no handling fees. Our fuel is very affordable," Miller said. "A lot of people will stop at the airport just to fuel up. Our airport has tie-downs available, but we make our hangar available for guests. There is such a different vibe here at Diamondhead, and the neighbors are great. If your hangar door is open, that’s like an invitation for everybody to come over. That’s just how we do it here and we love it. 

“And we’ve had not only pilots but also air traffic controllers and others that love aviation who have stayed here. They get to come here, check out all of the airplanes, the fuel farm, and experience the airport. All of the neighbors are pilots, and most have their own aircraft. When it’s the weekend, it’s no big thing seeing three or four of them taking off to fly off for a $100 hamburger.”

The stairs at The Shangar were painted to match the taxiway outside. [Courtesy: Betsy Miller]

As a longtime resident of coastal Mississippi, Betsy Miller is familiar with the best recreational opportunities in the area—whether they are best reached by car or by airplane. 

“Diamondhead Airport is close to water,” she said. For those who like to fish, there are boat rentals less than five miles from Diamondhead. You can rent and dock it at the marina half a mile away from The Shangar. Dock fishing is always a short walk away. We have speckled trout, redfish, and lots of others. Outside of fishing, you are 10 to 15 minutes away from the beaches that span from Waveland to Ocean Springs.”

Diamondhead is also close to beaches and towns with great nightlife, she added. 

"In Bay St. Louis, there is Old Town, which was there before Hurricane Katrina, but came right back after," Miller said. "It’s a fun atmosphere there with bars, bands, and overlooking the bay.” Miller added that other draws nearby include outlet shopping in Gulfport and casinos located in Waveland and Biloxi. Additionally, the town of Diamondhead also has a number of draws, including two championship golf courses and tennis courts—both of which are open to the public and located on the northside of the airpark community.

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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