General Aviation is Alive and Well at Triple Tree Aerodrome

Inaugural ACE Scholarship winners at Triple Tree in front of a Spartan Executive and below a Volksplane.

If you subscribe to the philosophy that pilots love to help other pilots and enjoy building camaraderie as they work to improve general aviation for the greater good, you need not look any farther than South Carolina’s Triple Tree Aerodrome (TTA) to see this in action during their planned 2020 season. At the aerodrome’s many fly-in and educational outreach events, pilots, families and aviation enthusiasts work side-by-side to create the kind of airfield experience the aviation community can be proud of maintaining. The first event on the calendar is coming soon, on February 29.

Triple Tree has been around since 1997 when Thomas Patterson “Pat” Hartness purchased property southeast of Woodruff, South Carolina, and began developing the site into the current “aerodrome.” As a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit, TTA now hosts several GA and radio-control aviation events throughout the year, and enjoyed prosperity in 2019. Over 30,000 guests from 49 states and 12 foreign countries attended four general aviation fly-ins, six radio-control events, and several business-venue rentals last year to generate an economic impact of $1.5 million to the upstate of South Carolina, according to the aerodrome’s 2019 Impact Report.

To make this happen, the report said more than 300 volunteers contributed more than 30,000 hours throughout 2019. “The love and passion of our volunteer base is second to none,” said Robb Williams, Triple Tree’s executive director and a 7,000-hour pilot with numerous ratings and certificates. “I have never seen so many willing individuals who routinely give up their time to help at our events! It’s a humbling experience to see so many give so much. For them, this is more than a place for events. it’s an extension of themselves. It’s proof that Triple Tree Aerodrome is theirs and they take pride in this ownership.”

The aerodrome will be very busy during the 2020 season, with several GA and R/C events planned. Highlights include:

  • The Chilly Chili Fly-in on February 29 is a leap-year, one-day event on the “coldest day of the year,” with homemade chili, fresh bread and chili toppings on the lunch menu.
  • Uncle Johns Fly-in scheduled for March 27 to 29 is a new Triple Tree event that honors longtime volunteer John Hartness, the uncle of Triple Tree Aerodrome patriarch Pat Hartness. The event kicks off a birthday celebration for “Uncle John,” as he approaches his ninety-seventh birthday.
  • The Young Aviators Fly-In on June 19 to 21 is a free event focused on promoting youth in aviation and is run entirely by Triple Tree’s Young Aviators Council. A highlight of this event will be the free airplane rides for future aviators, ages 8–17, offered as part of the EAA Young Eagles program.
  • Since 1938 (except during World War II when aircraft fuel was not available), the South Carolina Breakfast Club has met for breakfast at an airport somewhere in South Carolina and a few surrounding states, and will meet at TTA for a traditional “home-cooked southern breakfast.”
  • Now in its 14th year, the Triple Tree Fly-In is slated for September 21 to 27 and is Triple Tree’s signature event for the year. Williams said, “While you won’t find an air show or many vendors, you will find plenty of fun, fellowship, and hospitality.”
TTA Executive Director, Robb Williams, center, welcoming pilots from Polk State College with a P-51 Mustang as the backdrop. Courtesy of Triple Tree Aerodrome

Along with these GA events, TTA hosts the 38th annual Joe Nall Week Radio-Controlled event on May 8 to 16, 2020, a massive R/C event with fundraising proceeds to benefit Triple Tree’s Aviation Centered Education (ACE) portfolio.

If attending any of these events may be on your 2020 schedule, visit the Triple Tree Aerodrome website for ticket pre-sale information. If flying in, be sure to use their very comprehensive Pilot Information page, as it is a must-read as part of your preflight planning.

Even as TTA is widely-known for its fly-in events, Williams explains that the organization’s Aviation Centered Education (ACE) portfolio is one of the most unique in the U.S. “We are proud of this aviation-focused learning platform, an all-encompassing portfolio comprised of many different programs that serve our mission statement to ‘ignite and expand the passion for aviation,’” he said.

As a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, Triple Tree Aerodrome is always happy to discuss sponsorship and donation opportunities available, including their new Legacy Walk, now in development. All information on donating to this project, the ACE educational portfolio or the aerodrome’s operations can be found here.

Dan Pimentel is an instrument-rated private pilot and former airplane owner who has been flying since 1996. As an aviation journalist and photographer, he has covered all aspects of the general and business aviation communities for a long list of major aviation magazines, newspapers and websites. He has never met a flying machine that he didn’t like, and has written about his love of aviation for years on his Airplanista blog. For 10 years until 2019, he hosted the popular ‘Oshbash’ social media meetup events at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh.

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