Greg Gottron is a passionate pilot that is employed as a check airman for an airline headquartered in Denver. The Luscombe 8A owner found that living at an airpark just outside the city limits of Erie, Colorado, has allowed him to better experience the joys of general aviation.
“I started my involvement with Parkland Estates Airpark (7CO0) by moving there in 2017. We lived nearby and I had always been kind of interested in it, having seen a little Cub fly by there quite a bit. So, one day I took my youngest son there just to kind of watch it take off and land. It’s a private airpark, but we were kind of able to get on the property and watch this Cub do touch and gos.”
But this tailwheel aviator surprised the father-son duo with what he did next.
“We watched this guy land, taxi over, and come to a stop near us by the fuel pumps. And then to my son, who was probably 3 or 4 at the time, the pilot asked, ‘Hey, does he want a ride?”’
Gottron was happy that his son had one of his first tastes of general aviation that day.
“I love flying and can’t seem to get enough of it. I work for Frontier Airlines as a captain, and I’ve been there for about 16 years, and a couple of other airlines before that. But I always kept my general aviation love for flying alive by renting, or in the last few years acquiring airplanes. I currently own a little 1946 Luscombe. I also have a Piper Lance, and also, I just sold my Pitts Special, which I really loved flying around.”
Snagging an Airpark Home
In addition to the Gottron’s home, there are 85 or so residences at Parkland Estates Airpark. Historically, very few of this community’s homes were listed for sale. Because of this, a combination of luck and outward interest early helped Gottron to snag his home when he did. And the person who he first met at Parkland Estates was who provided the tip about a couple of potential listings.
“A few years later, that same gentleman [the Cub pilot] said, ‘I have a couple of properties that aren’t even on the market yet. If you would like to give the owners a call and introduce yourself, you might be able to get in on one.’”
Enthused by the initial experience and all subsequent ones at Parkland, Gottron was quick to pick up the phone. “So that’s exactly what we did, and we were able to acquire one of the homes. It was pretty neat how it worked out. It had been very hard to get into the neighborhood prior to that,” Gottron says.
“The airpark was started in the late 1970s and a lot of the folks who started it are still here. Some of them weren’t still flying actively but stayed because they really loved the place. To get into a house someone either had to move on or what not. It was really lucky that we were able to get into the neighborhood when we did. A lot of the deals in the last five years have been off market. That is until just recently, with the real estate boom, as some folks decided to sell at the peak last summer. Before then, it was kind of hard to get into Parkland Estates.”
Gottron contends that this type of relationship building is important, even prior to becoming an airpark resident. This is especially true for those who know that they may one day want to be a hangar home owner and present timing isn’t appropriate, or availability at the desired community is non-existent.
“The thing would be to contact the HOA president [of the community you are interested in]. Ours tries to put out an email to folks when a new home becomes available. We really want to try and keep pilots in the mix here. We hope to be able to get pilots here, as opposed to people who want horse property or regular property. That is kind of how an airpark can die, if you get people that just want acreage and don’t really care about airplanes very much.”
Even with their best efforts, it can sometimes be challenging for pilots and aviation enthusiasts to become airpark insiders. Even up until relatively recently, it was more difficult for an outsider to become acquainted with Parkland Estates.
“Our airpark is a private community so it has an ‘R’ on the runway for ‘Restricted,’ but we encourage people to come by. If they fly in, it’s no problem, they just have to sign the hold harmless agreement that’s on the website. That way there is no liability for us if something happens. I think over the years it had a stigma of, ‘That’s a private airpark, don’t even go near it,’ and that kind of thing.”
But this type of stigma is detrimental to a fly-in community’s future.
“We are trying to get away from that and are trying to share our airpark with the community. It’s just for liability reasons you have to sign the hold harmless agreement. We are really trying to be more welcoming of people here, especially nowadays,” Gottron continues.
This warm welcome is extended to aviators through an open invitation for a longstanding Parkland Estates tradition.
“Every year we have a chili cookoff and fly-in, which is coming up Saturday, October 8. I have been involved with this event before and it’s really a lot of fun. We have a contest for who brings in the best chili, but also for the best airplane that flies in that people like.”
Outside of this event, there is a very communal bunch at Parkland Estates. Gottron says that residents routinely enjoy each other’s company, whether it be a random night’s hangar get-together or a group flying to EAA AirVenture. There are at least 35 airplanes based at the airfield, of which there is a good mix of types.
“It’s all general aviation aircraft that are based here. We have some World War II aircraft; a Stearman, a T-6 Texan, and somebody just acquired a BT-13B. I think that’s it for warbirds, but we have a ton of other taildraggers. In fact, we have a fun thing called Taildragger Tuesday where everybody with a taildragger tries to get up in the pattern before sunset and fly around. So that’s kind of fun.”
After mentioning other onfield aircraft, including some Grand Champions minted in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, Gottron elaborates on Parkland’s two runways.
“We have one long runway, which is 4,200 feet long and is paved. We just resurfaced it about a year and a half ago, so it’s completely redone. Then we also have a short 2,000-foot crosswind runway that is also paved. And that’s just for north/south landings. Mostly when winds are gusty from the north is when we use it, but the STOL planes typically use that runway.”