The Charleston Low Country area is awash in golf courses for players at all levels, including the beautiful Harbour Course on the Isle of Palms.However, most golfers probably have little idea that there used to be an airport along the Intercoastal Waterway where they’re playing.
On their website, the Charleston County Aviation Authority has this to say about the Isle of Palms Airport:
The Isle of Palms Airport was built in the early-1950’s to provide a recreational airport adjacent to the island’s beaches. It provided a 2900’ turf airstrip situated along the Intracoastal Waterway.
Originally constructed and operated by the South Carolina Aeronautics Commission, ownership was later transferred to the Charleston County Aviation Authority; however, the airport was located on privately-owned leased land which was recovered in 1983 by the owners for development of the Wild Dunes complex.
This turf airstrip was a bit different: instead of grass, the runway consisted of crushed seashells, and was managed by retired Lieutenant Colonel Heyward Faison.“Woody”, as he was popularly known, was also the chief flight instructor at the Isle of Palms Airport.When the Mt. Pleasant Airport opened in 1986, he set up shop there and for years was the only flight instructor at the airport.
Woody, who solo-ed in his first airplane in July 1936, graduated from the Citadel in 1939.He was a flight leader in World War II, flying B-29s from Saipan, and participated in the Berlin Airlift.In 2000 Woody was inducted into the South Carolina Aviation Hall of Fame and the road to the Mount Pleasant Airport was renamed in his honor. Woody was still teaching people to fly until his death in February 2007 at age 89.
I had the privilege to get my flight training from Woody and later to work for him as a flight instructor.Every time I open my flight log and see his signature, it reminds me of how lucky I was to meet such an extraordinary man.He was kind, gentle, and soft spoken, completely justified to talk of his many accomplishments but instead was one of that rare breed of people who let their actions reflect their dignity.
Fortunately, I fly better than I golf but every time I hack away at the Harbour Course I think of the countless touch and go landings by students who, like me, had the honor of associating with a true American hero.
One of the best views of the Charleston area is from the air and I have always enjoyed taking clients up in my plane so that they can get a bird’s-eye view of the Charleston peninsula and the outlying islands. Until you see it from the air, it’s hard to conceive how much water there is all around us and the layout of the roads and streets.
Typically we leave from the Mt. Pleasant Airport, just a few miles north from the Isle of Palms connector on Hwy. 17, and immediately turn southeast to approach the Isle of Palms from the north. We usually set our cruise altitude at 1500 feet and fly straight down the coast of the Isle of Palms, watching Wild Dunes resort slide off our right wing. From this vantage point you can clearly see the golf course, tennis courts, and condos on the island-long public beach.
We then pass Breach Inlet, the small channel that separates the Isle of Palms from Sullivans Island, a smaller community without the tourist rush of her neighbor, but still home to restaurants and landmarks such as the Sullivans Island lighthouse and Ft. Moultrie, now a National Park and open to tours. As we approach the southwest end, the island turns sharply into Charleston Harbor, which we generally cross to get a view of the jetties marking the entrance to one of the busiest ports in the country, Ft. Sumter, and the Morris Island lighthouse.
I usually will make a loop over Folly Beach, then, with permission from Charleston Approach, fly over the Charleston peninsula which allows us to take a peek at the checkerboard pattern parade grounds of the Citadel Military College and the Ravenel Bridge before we turn back to the Mt. Pleasant Airport- all in all, about a 30 minute flight, but in that time my visitors get a good grasp of how thing are laid out and where every community is in relation to each other. Buying a new home is a big decision, but I believe that once you’ve seen it from the sky, you have a better understanding of the geography and history of this area and can make a more informed decision on your final purchase.