Exactly one year ago the RAF hosted the first public aviation event in decades at Blackwater Airfield 8FD3. In fact, the event was chronicled on this webpage (see the April 4 2013 entry): a long, forgiving turf airstrip, all the campground amenities a brief walk away in the beautiful Blackwater River Forest, and kids, families and singles all keen to return. So much so that the return this year just about doubled the number of aircraft visits and number of overnight campers.
Number of aircraft that flew in: 36
Number that camped overnight, either one or two nights: 24
Number of sunburned faces with wide smiles: 55-60
Number of gripes, complaints & ‘issues’: none were heard
It really was the best combo of excellent weather and much fellowship. The Forest Service folks provided a potable water source by the airfield, they cleared out the fire pit and provided firewood (supplemented by John Hall whacking away with his axe while some of us watched with a wary eye) and this in turn meant Saturday evening the kids could manufacture abundant Smores. And we combined the Saturday afternoon snacks with a general get-acquainted session that demonstrated what a deep and also broad exposure the people there have had to aviation. It was also good to once again find so many locals flying in to ‘their Blackwater Airfield’, just like last year.
The Florida Forest Service needs to retain Blackwater Airfield’s identity as a private field but they were also open to allowing public access to it – for groups or individuals – throughout the year. And so a simple no-cost User Permit process was developed to make that possible. The RAF now has a full description of this, the airstrip itself and the forest in the Pilot Info section of this website. Be sure to check it out.
But we’re not done yet. We hope to soon begin working with Blackwater’s District Manager, Mike Hudson, on the first of our RAF-sponsored improvements to the airfield: a toilet/septic system at the south end of the field so no after-dark hikes through the forest, no matter how short they may be, will be required by airfield campers.
We asked a number of the visitors if they thought we should make this an annual event and the answer was always ‘Yes, please!’ So keep this beautiful destination in mind for early to mid-April of next year. Come to that, this article probably should have been titled “The First Return to Blackwater”.