Texas Airpark Takes Concept to Another Level

Jan. 5, 2024
Residents are drawn by country club-type amenities and a relatively maintenance-free aviation lifestyle.

The concept of airparks isn’t anything new. They are all over the world. Aero Country East in the North Dallas Metroplex has taken the concept to another level, offering high-quality country club-type amenities and a maintenance-free aviation lifestyle community.

According to Aero Country East developer and pilot, Mike Shell, Texas may be an exception. It has very few aviation lifestyle communities and probably none offer the first-class appeal of Aero Country East, which was designed for pilots by pilots.

Located just 15 nautical miles northeast of the growing north Dallas area within the city limits of McKinney, Texas, Aero Country East not only provides convenience of airport access to a large population of pilots who commute in and out of Dallas, it gives them a comfortable home. A total of 39 customized first-class townhomes are on the site, offering buyers the option to design the interior of their townhomes exactly to their liking.

After a hard day at the office, residents and their families can relax in a beautiful pool that stands out from the air with its Aero Country East logo. Other amenities include three in-pool tables with umbrellas providing shade and a large 14-person hot tub, a firepit, two barbeque grills and full ADA access for those with disabilities. Aero Country East currently has nine residents with room for many more.

Aero Country East doesn’t take the community for granted. They help boy scouts get their aviation badge and encourage them to become future pilots. Two annual fly-ins bring pilots in from all directions. Shell says their purpose is to get more and more young people into aviation.

“Municipal airports are supported by tax revenue,” says Shell. They don’t want Stearmans or Pipers; they are looking for corporate jets. We don’t compete with these airports; we fill a need for people coming out to enjoy aviation. We get along nicely with the municipal airports around here.”

A new lighted and paved 3,000-foot by 60-foot runway and a 1,104-foot grass runway and LED windsocks can accommodate most piston and turbine aircraft. Seventy-nine first-grade hangars, three deep along the runway, await owners of a single aircraft or multiple aircraft. Hangars all have Schweiss Doors hydraulic doors. Aero Country East hangars currently house 40 aircraft and the nearby westside airport has an additional 120 aircraft. Visitors can expect to see a variety of aircraft at Aero Country East, including T-6 “Texans,” Stearmans and Pipers.

“We have the best Rolls Royce engine mechanic in the world here,” Shell says. “You also don’t see very many airports with swimming pools, barbeque grills and two 18-hole golf courses that residents can drive their golf carts to. Every airport has a mission and purpose that fits the needs of the pilot. Aero Country East has a concierge service and if you want your plane fueled or floor cleaned, we will do that for you. We fit the aviation lifestyle.”

Shell first became aware of Schweiss hydraulic and bifold door products through a friend. He is very pleased with the Schweiss product and service.

“I’ve gotten calls from Schweiss Doors; they pay attention to detail,” Shell says. “I’ve made mistakes when it comes to certain windows or measurements, etc., which guys at the Schweiss factory have caught because they know what we are building now. They’ll call me and say, ‘Hey Mike, did you mean that, or do you really want to do this?’ They have been a true joy to work with.”

Architectural requirements for uniformity only allow hydraulic doors on Aero Country East hangars. You won’t see a hodgepodge of this and that. It’s set of to protect residents’ investments, Shell says.

The first floor of each two- or three-story townhome comes with an all-steel 60-foot by 60-foot pre-plumbed hangar, fitted with a hydraulic door. Only steps away is an elevator serving the residence on the second and/or third floor. If the resident isn’t ready to install an elevator, each unit is constructed with an elevator shaft, so it can be done at a later time. Others are putting in beautiful granite floors, bars and other amenities for entertaining. The hangars are set up electrically to add quarters. One of the residents recently added a first-class kitchen and theater in the hangar.

Although this is a privately owned airport, as a hangar or townhome owner, it can be publicly accessed, enabling pilots to land there when they need to. Unlike other aviation communities, residents own their land and hangar, eliminating the fear of the city taking it from them sometime down the road. Corner lots offer 160,000 square feet, while interior lots are a comfortable 135,000 square feet.

Quite a bit of thought and planning went into Aero Country East. The developers were aware that many small airports had been closing or shrinking for various reasons. Having Aero Country East just below Class B airspace in a metroplex like this is very beneficial.

Since the initial groundbreaking and ribbon cutting ceremony in 2010, Aero Country East has come a long way. However, this is just a start. A six-phase long-range plan will add an additional 40,888 acres to the current 17,305 acres. There will be further landscape and stormwater improvements and plans for retail and restaurant additions in the future.