Today I learned that Walt Disney World has an Airport. Or, perhaps, more appropriately, Disney World had an airport? Except it was called a STOLport because the runway was only 2,000 feet long, making it viable only for smaller planes with “Short Takeoff and Landing” (STOL) capabilities.
The field, just to the East of the main Magic Kingdom parking area, was in service for only a year, from late 1971 until December 1972 when Shawnee Airlines went bankrupt and ceased operations. There were only a couple routes flown, mainly on Twin Otter aircraft to McCoy Field (a/k/a Orlando International Airport) and to Tampa International Airport. With no flights the strip eventually found “DWS” removed from the list of active FAA airports. It is currently used as a parking lot and storage area.
So why mention it now? It turns out that the company is looking to perform some development in the area, sparking hopes that the field might return to aviation service.
Walt Disney World to Begin Construction at the Resort's Private Airfieldhttps://t.co/2e8KyVa53Y pic.twitter.com/o2XgAkgxkL
— The DIS (@TheDIS) May 7, 2018
Alas, looking at the initial filing for the “Stolport Stockpile” project, it is hard to believe that the work will result in the field will return to service, at least for flying reasons.
Yes, the project is named after the STOLport, suggesting that it is related to that historical use of the space. But the monorail location makes using it for flights hard. So does the no fly zone in the area. And the part where the construction really isn’t close enough to make sense. Unless it is about building a more permanent storage facility for all the stuff currently on the runway.
And even if it did return to service a hop across from MCO or TPA on a STOL-capable aircraft might not be the luxury a Disney visitor is looking for. Then again, it probably beats the heck out of traffic on I-4.
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It’s kind of a shame STOLports never really took off (bad pun, I know).
One of my sisters used to live in an apartment complex that was partially built on land that was once a STOLport near Clear Lake City, a suburban part of Houston around EFD and the Johnson Space Center. When it was in service, it had commuter flights to IAH, a precursor to COEX service at EFD a few years later. Now the former site is partly under an apartment complex, and partly being used for something like an auto parts store. Those flights used a taxiway at IAH to takeoff, since it was closer to the terminals than the actual runways.
Is that weak excuse for a race track still open?
It also was used by corporate flights, for years. Not just the time of Shawnee Airlines.
I-4 is the worst! As a resident of central Florida, I have to deal with it on a regular basis. Any time we drive to Orlando to catch a flight, there is an accident which brings all traffic to a halt. Every. Time. We started booking a hotel by the airport after a missing one flight.
And in the ’60s you could have taken a helicopter from LAX to Disneyland.
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