Peter Mastropieri is trying to put his grass strip airport back on the map.
“The interesting thing about Keymar Airpark (MD42) is that right now, we are actually not on the sectional chart because there is a Camp David text box over the airport. Hopefully that gets removed in the April revision of the sectionals, as I made the request with the FAA,” he said.
Peter, alongside his fiancée Chelsea Ingram, recently purchased the airport located in Keymar, Maryland. Buying an airport was a longtime dream for the Boeing 767 and Air National Guard F-16 pilot, who is a lifelong resident of the state.
“I had never known about Keymar Airpark, although I had flown in the vicinity of it many times. But I had always been looking for land within an hour or two of Washington, Baltimore, or Philadelphia. So about two years ago, I had a realtor set up a commercial property listing for me in the area. The airport popped up in that search, and that’s actually how I first heard about it. And it was horribly overpriced when it was first put out, but the price started coming down and we eventually thought that maybe we could look at it,” he said.
Chelsea was equally enthusiastic about the possibility of buying an airport. A meteorologist by training, she has embraced aviation since meeting Peter and is currently working towards her private pilot certificate. For several years, the couple had forecasted that owning an airport of their own was on the horizon.
“When Peter met and started dating, we always talked about what our five, 10-year plans look like. As well as what the ultimate place we want to live looks like. And of course, Peter always said that he would love to have his own grass strip,” she said.
Initially, purchasing this property seemed to be out of the young couple’s reach. Fortunately, Chelsea noted that their fortune changed.
“They parceled off a house that was initially being sold with the airpark, so the price came down a little bit. Then when it looked like something that we could actually entertain, I said that we should just go and look at it. Because when else do you get a chance to purchase a grass strip so close to where you live? And we did it!”
The couple formalized the purchase of Keymar Airpark in January 2023. This sale included 14 acres, as well as several structures and a strong spirit of aviation that dates back to 1971 when the airport was first opened.
“Its runway is registered as 1,950 feet by 50 feet, turf, but has clearways on both sides. So, there are no scary trees, which is pretty nice,” Mastropieri said. “There are two hangars, a community hangar, and a Quonset hangar, and I think we have 10 ultralights that are based there right now. Then we have a few fixed wing, certified airplanes here as well. We actually do not own an airplane yet, so that will be our next step.”
“We went a little backwards. Let’s just buy the airpark and then we will have a place to put a plane,” Chelsea added.
The two already have several ideas planned for the property. Hinting that they expect a strong, flying-focused future for Keymar, they reported that they are fortunate to have inherited an airport that has a history rooted in general aviation.
Peter said that, “There are about three acres with a homesite at the airport, and we are planning to build a house there, five or so years down the road. But we are actually going to develop basically a campsite on the property so we can go up there for the weekend and have a semi-permanent tent to use.”
This will be the basis for the airport’s anticipated camping site that other aviators will be able to use as well.
“We want people to fly in and also have a place for them to stay. One of our main goals is to make Keymar Airpark a destination and bring the community back to it. There used to be a big flying community that used to be associated with the airport, and we want to bring that back. We would also like to include an affordable flying club here eventually. We also have quite a bit of land for follow-on hangars, so would like to build more here as demand allows. This year we are going to do the camping for ourselves but would like to think about the possibility of short-term rentals. So, you would be able to fly in, to either camp or stay in a cabin, and then have a courtesy car so that you can go hiking in the mountains or go to D.C, whatever you want to do,” he advised.
Chelsea added that everyone who has heard about their airport purchase has been pleased, especially when hearing about some of their goals for the property.
“I think that the reception from the pilot community to our efforts thus far has been extremely positive. I have a lot of people that have messaged me privately saying that ‘Oh I’ve gone to Keymar before and would love to come back and visit,’ or ‘Keymar is one of my favorite places to visit. It’s a great little grass strip!’ I think what’s so wonderful about the airport is that you have proximity to Washington, D.C., also to Baltimore, also to Frederick, which is the cutest town, and also to the Catoctin Mountains. It really is a great spot with so many things that you can do beyond the airpark. Reception has been very, very positive.”
Getting Keymar back on the map (literally) will help pilots see the airport as a possible place to visit in the future. But the two are not expecting visibility on the sectional to be the only way aviators hear about the airport. As a result, they have become vocal about inviting others to enjoy the grass airstrip alongside them.
“Right now, we are a private use airport and require permission to land. But we are trying to get the FAA database switched over to our names, so people can contact us,” Ingram said. “In the meantime, we will grant people permission to land via our email at [email protected]. We definitely want people to visit, so we don’t want them to be afraid to reach out!”