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Montvale Airpark is home to pilots and their planes | Community Spirit

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Montvale Airpark is home to pilots and their planes
Montvale Airpark is home to pilots and their planes

Some golfers live on a golf course, some boaters live on a lake, and some East Tennesseans live on a runway.

Thomas Clanton's enjoys living at Montvale Airpark in Maryville.

"I've got a lot of flight ratings and I've always worked around airports. I just love it. I'm living my dream now," he said.

People park their planes at their houses instead of at rented hangars.

"It makes it so convenient. You can pull it out and fly it right here at the house," Clanton said.

Tommy Rowe moved there almost 20 years ago.

"You don't have to drive. You don't mess with getting i.d. through the fence and everything else. You just come out, pull it out, and go," he said.

Eight houses line the runway and everybody in the neighborhood has some connection to flying.

"Most of them are pilots. A lot of them are retired. But everybody's got a plane here," Clanton said.

Pete McKevitz makes a living as a professional pilot and appreciates living on a runway.

"We have a paved strip. It's lighted for nighttime flying. And you just don't see that too much," McKevitz said.

This strip was once a railroad. Tommy Rowe explained its evolution.

"It used to be Maryville Drag Strip and my driveway was the quarter mile mark before we paved it, it used to have the finish line right at my driveway. That's how I would tell the UPS and the FED Ex drivers where to drive to," he said.

Farris and Ruth Thomas transformed the drag strip into an air strip.

"He was a military pilot back in the war. He flew all kinds of airplanes. And she was a 99er, one of the lady pilots. It's a group. They fly across country a lot in races," Clanton said.

Even though the runway doubles as a road it is pretty safe.

"There is a stop sign there. Yes we go look left look right then look up left and up right. You want to make sure there's no airplanes coming," Pete McKevitz said. "We come in at a low pass to make a lot of noise to let everybody know, hey, don't come out of the driveway. We're going to land."

There was one close call with a plane trying to land on the runway.

Tommy Rowe said, "He just lost control. I was out in the front yard watching him come in. He started swerving. I started running one way and he swerved this way so I started running the other way and then finally he just ground looped it up into the fence."

Any injuries?

"An ego," he said. "He was an F-16 pilot and a United Airlines Captain."

Montvale Airpark is where pilots' dreams fly high.

"You give somebody a half mile of road and they can take you a half mile. You give us a half mile of air strip here, a runway, we can take you anywhere in the world," McKevitz said.

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