Nestled on the northern tip of North Captiva Island, a remote tropical paradise accessible only by boat or plane, lies a unique and charming grass airstrip called the Salty Approach Airport. Surrounded by swaying palm trees, powdery white sand beaches, and the azure waters of the Gulf of Mexico, the Salty Approach Airport offers pilots, residents, and visitors a one-of-a-kind aviation experience.
In this in-depth guide, we’ll provide everything you need to know about this hidden gem, from its fascinating history and operations to helpful pilot tips for landing on its short runway. Read on to learn all about flying into this tropical aviation oasis.
Salty Approach Airstrip – A Brief History
The Salty Approach Airport was established in the late 1950s by Clarence “Tee” Jenkins, an aviation entrepreneur who recognized the potential of North Captiva’s pristine natural beauty. He spearheaded the effort to clear land and create a small grass runway that would grant unique air access to the island.
The aptly named “Salty Approach” encapsulates the airport’s seaside location and its significance for pilots. It soon became a beloved community asset, providing residents and visitors easier transportation options to an island only accessible otherwise by ferry or private boat.
Today, the Salty Approach Airport continues to be owned and operated by the North Captiva community through the North Captiva Island Airport Association. As a private airport, operations and access require permission and strict adherence to regulations that protect residents and the fragile island ecosystem.
Landing permissions and close coordination are required to operate within strict regulations protecting this fragile island ecosystem.
Flying In: Key Details and Aircraft Requirements
Before flying into Salty Approach Airport, be sure your aircraft meets the necessary requirements:
Runway Length: 2,000 ft
Runway Surface: Grass
Traffic Pattern: Left-hand standard pattern at 800 ft
Aircraft Requirements: Small general aviation aircraft only, with capability for short field landings and takeoffs
In addition, landing permission must be obtained in advance by contacting the proper authorities who manage airport access. Due to the airport’s exclusivity and limited facilities, special preparation is required:
- Contact the North Captiva Island Airport Association to request landing authorization
- Review all airport regulations and protocols
- Ensure sufficient fuel load and reserves – no refueling available on island
- Monitor weather continuously for changes in winds or visibility
- Plan for transportation needs once landed – rental car or golf cart recommended
Careful pre-flight planning and coordination ensures a smooth arrival and enjoyable island visit while respecting residents and the serenity of this special location.
What to Expect When Landing at Salty Approach
As you descend over the Gulf of Mexico’s emerald and sapphire waters toward North Captiva Island, prepare for a Landing unlike any other. The Salty Approach Airport will come into view, its runway lined with swaying palms and vibrant foliage.
Use caution on approach – clear the runway visually before landing, as beachgoers or wildlife may stray onto the airstrip. Aim for the numbers, staying vigilant for potential crosswind gusts that require deft adjustments. Touch down smoothly onto the grass surface, braking gently to taxi off the active runway.
With the engine quieted at the runway’s edge, breathe in the sweet tropical air. The suspension of disbelief is palpable as your aviation dreams meet island paradise. Now, the real adventure begins!
Exploring North Captiva Island
Welcome to North Captiva Island! This tropical island escape offers pristine beaches, abundant wildlife, lush nature trails, and the kind of seclusion only accessible by boat or plane.
The island has a rich history but maintains a simpler, quieter way of life. With no paved roads or major development, prepare for rustic amenities requiring self-sufficiency. The few dozen homes and cottages across the island mostly rely on solar power, generators, and cisterns to collect rainwater.
Transportation around North Captiva’s 4 miles of island trails and shores consists mainly of golf carts, kayaks, boats, or your own two feet. But the natural beauty and tranquility found here make it all worthwhile!
Spend days beachcombing along endless stretches of sand, watching dolphins play while the sun slowly sinks into the gulf. Explore lush interior jungle trails where colorful birds flit from branch to branch as lizards scurry underfoot. Enjoy fiery pink and orange sunsets with a cocktail in hand before fresh seafood dinners under swaying palms and twinkling lights.
However you choose to enjoy island time, North Captiva offers the perfect tropical elixir to soothe the soul.
Who Has Access to Salty Approach Airport
Given North Captiva Island’s exclusive nature, access to the Salty Approach Airport is limited primarily to property owners, airport association members, approved guests, and authorized visitors.
The few dozen private residences across the island typically have either full or partial ownership stakes in the airport association. This grants their owners landing rights and access to the airport as well as the responsibility of supporting airport upkeep and operations.
Airport Association Members
A handful of pilot members also belong to the airport association with granted landing rights independent of island property ownership. These special memberships support the airport’s continual operations.
Property owners may sponsor guests by requesting landing authorizations for friends, family visitors, or vacation renters staying in their homes. Without sponsorship, landing permissions are not granted.
A small number of vendors, contractors, inspectors, or government officials may obtain temporary landing clearance related to approved business on the island.
Careful control over airport access helps protect the island community and natural habitat while sustaining this unique tropical aviation gem for years to come.
How to Plan Your Landing Authorization
If you have the chance to visit North Captiva Island and utilize the Salty Approach Airport, follow these recommended steps to ensure landing approval:
Step 1: Contact Your Island Host
Reaching North Captiva requires either hosting by a property owner or reservation with a vacation rental company. Your host can sponsor your landing request to airport authorities.
Step 2: Share Pilot & Aircraft Details
Provide your host with relevant details needed for the landing authorization form, including pilot certifications, medical currency, aircraft registration, and insurance.
Step 3: Complete Request Form
Your host will complete and submit the landing request application to airport management on your behalf 30 days prior to planned arrival.
Step 4: Receive & Review Approval
Assuming qualifications and circumstances allow, your reservation confirmation will include signed approved landing permissions to carry aboard and present upon arrival.
Step 5: Enjoy Your Flight to Paradise!
With landing authorization in hand, arrive safely and respectfully following all airport protocols to fully enjoy island paradise!
Flying Out: Best Practices to Leave North Captiva
When your last glorious North Captiva Island sunset heralds the end of your stay in paradise, follow these best practices ensuring safe departure from Salty Approach Airport:
- Double check weather conditions and pack supplies accordingly before flying
- Perform thorough preflight inspection – note runway or taxiway changes
- Taxi slowly, watching for pedestrians, wildlife, or obstructions
- Announce departure directions clearly over CTAF radio frequency
- Climb gradually over beach and water before turning southeast
- Express gratitude to your island host before flying off into the sunset!
With fond memories and dreams of returning again soon, you’ll re-enter the real world smiling with island spirit in your soul.
The Future of the Salty Approach Airport
For over 60 years, the Salty Approach Airport has provided unique access to heavenly North Captiva Island. Thanks to the passionate efforts of its pilot community, the airport continues operating as a charming grass airstrip preserved in time.
Yet the airport also faces modern challenges – from environmental factors like sea level rise and hurricane risks to ongoing legal and regulatory issues. Maintaining this delicate balance requires extensive planning, investment and vigilance from property owners, island residents and airport members.
The future remains uncertain, but the allure of bygone aviation days perfectly blending with island tropical paradise is a powerful inspiration. All who discover North Captiva’s magic have fallen under its spell and become stewards working diligently to safeguard its existence.
Hopefully the salty approach to this beloved tropical airstrip remains smooth for years to come, thrilling aviators and visitors with dreams of flying away to a Caribbean escape seemingly worlds apart but truly just a short flight away.
The Allure of the Salty Approach Airport Beckons Adventure-Seekers
Awaiting discovery along Florida’s remote tropical coasts, the unique Salty Approach Airport stands as a threshold to adventure, an enduring legacy pioneering access to an island paradise frozen in time.
Its history interwoven with aviation dreams, today this grass airstrip offers pilots, visitors and residents alike an experience transporting them away from modern worries. For those fortunate few granted access to North Captiva Island via the Salty Approach Airport, they’ll surely find memories to last a lifetime.
So if you ever have the chance to embark on your own journey to this tropical aviation gem, seize it! File your flight plan to paradise, and savor each moment soaking in the rustic island charm. Just be prepared – because once you relax into island time, returning to reality will be your only challenge in North Captiva’s secluded natural splendor!