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  1. #1

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    Abandoned STOL airstrip near TTC

    Can anybody tell me how to get out onto the old STOL airstrip near MK/TTC? I've read a few threads on forums here and there. Some people have said it's accessible, some don't know, others say it's not. I did a search and found only scarce mention of it on these boards. I would really like to see the old thing.

    If it's not accessible, is it visible from the road or the epcot monorail?

  2. #2

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    Re: Abandoned STOL airstrip near TTC

    You can see the strip from the Epcot monorail I believe. They currently have what looks to be a construction office set up near it. But, you can EASILY see if from Vista Blvd. if you head towards the campground after entering through the MK toll plaza.

    Here's a link
    -Tim

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    Re: Abandoned STOL airstrip near TTC

    That's funny- I drove right by it just a few hours ago and never even knew it! So can you turn into it, or are there barriers?

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    Re: Abandoned STOL airstrip near TTC

    That is interesting what was the airstrip used for and what does STOL stand for? This is the first I have ever heard of it.

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    Re: Abandoned STOL airstrip near TTC

    ^STOL = Short Take-Off and Landing.

    If you've ever seen the Blue Angels, the Fat Albert is STOL-capable. Fires JATO rockets during takeoff and the props essentially reverse themselves to slow down faster during landing.

  6. #6

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    Re: Abandoned STOL airstrip near TTC

    Quote Originally Posted by Disney Magic View Post
    what was the airstrip used for...
    Aircraft.



    It was used for limited private plane (including Disney's corporate planes) use and scheduled commercial commuter flights from McCoy Field (now Orlando International Airport, but the airport code is still MCO) to the STOL-Port at Disney, on puddle-jumpers operated by Shawnee Airlines.

    I took quite of few of these flights up until the mid-1970's when they discontinued service. It was about a 10 minute flight.

    There was a popular story/rumor that the bumps on the runway were spaced in such a way that as your plane landed and rolled down the runway, it vibrated out the tune "When You Wish Upon A Star." But I never heard that myself or managed to confirm that rumor.

    When the Epcot monorail extension was built...that pretty much ended any chance of it being used again for anything but emergency use. I recall back when they were flying MM1 (Walt's private Gulfstream) for the last time to Florida for ultimate display at the Disney-MGM Studios backlot...they couldn't even use the STOL for that. They actually ended up closing World Drive and landing the plane on that public road instead.
    Last edited by Opus1guy; 02-01-2008 at 10:01 AM.

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    Re: Abandoned STOL airstrip near TTC

    Thanks for all the great info Opus1guy.

    I do vaguely recall now hearing about an airstrip other than MCO used in the very early years of WDW. Guess I never realized it was actually on Disney's property and so close to the MK.

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    Re: Abandoned STOL airstrip near TTC

    Quote Originally Posted by DeliriumTrigger View Post
    ^STOL = Short Take-Off and Landing.

    Thanks

  9. #9

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    Re: Abandoned STOL airstrip near TTC

    The strip was listed on FAA maps until about 1997 I believe. But by the '80s, the strip was shut down due to safety reasons. Walt's plane that is on display in the backlot was actually not cleared to land on the strip I believe when it made its last flight.

    Another reason why the proposed intl. airport on property was null.



    Quote Originally Posted by Phonedave View Post
    Well, if your parents can't teach you, maybe you can learn from a taser.

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    Re: Abandoned STOL airstrip near TTC

    I drove there early this morning and could have driven right out onto it. It was lined with trucks and trailers and contractors of some sort. I did take a few pics, which I can post later. When I drove by again later, the entrance from Vista Blvd. (which had been open earlier) was closed off with tall green fences. But it was still accessible from N. World Drive.

    Not way interesting, but I guess it's cool to think that this was once Walt's private airstrip, and a nice piece of WDW lore that I was able to see for myself (at least from the World and Vista).
    Last edited by JungleBumCT; 01-25-2008 at 09:52 AM.

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    Re: Abandoned STOL airstrip near TTC

    Quote Originally Posted by Opus1guy View Post
    I recall back when they were flying MM1 (Walt's private Gulfstream) for the last time to Florida for ultimate display at the Disney-MGM Studios backlot...they couldn't even use the STOL for that. They actually ended up closing World Drive and landing the plane on that public road instead.
    That must have been a sight to see! I wonder if they have pictures or video of that?


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    Re: Abandoned STOL airstrip near TTC

    Quote Originally Posted by WDW Monorail View Post
    Walt's plane that is on display in the backlot was actually not cleared to land on the strip I believe when it made its last flight.
    Correct. As I already had mentioned in Post #6.



    Quote Originally Posted by JungleBumCT View Post
    ...but I guess it's cool to think that this was once Walt's private airstrip...
    If that were true it might be cool.



    The STOL-Port wasn't built until 1970...four years after Walt's death.

    But it's still pretty cool that it exists/existed regardless. Somewhere in the Opus Archives I've got advertising material such as brochures and such, from Walt Disney World's first few years, and they tout the availability of arriving via your own private plane or via commercial flights from MCO, along with some other details. If/when I come across them...I'll scan and post.

    Quote Originally Posted by mikeland View Post
    That must have been a sight to see! I wonder if they have pictures or video of that?
    I know they do because I remember seeing them. Both video and stills. You might want to search the Orlando Sentinel's archives if you are really interested. I'm sure they must have covered it.

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    Re: Abandoned STOL airstrip near TTC

    Quote Originally Posted by Opus1guy View Post
    Correct. As I already had mentioned in Post #6.

    Which I had somehow overlooked until I read mikeland's post. Sorry.



    Here is some more information...

    Shawnee Airlines began scheduled commuter services on July 12, 1968 from Orlando's Herndon Airport using Beech 99 equipment. It was founded by David D. Latham and was a subsidiary of the Root Co. of Daytona Beach. It operated an extensive route system across the state of Florida and to several points in the Bahamas. When Walt Disney World opened in 1971, Shawnee began regular passenger service from Orlando's McCoy jetport directly to Disney World's own STOLport (Short Take Off and Landing) using 19 seat DeHavilland Twin Otters. The actual flight time was only a few minutes. As far as I know, Shawnee was the only airline ever to fly directly into the Magic Kingdom. (An odd note about Disney's STOLport: there were bumps laid out on the runway in a pattern that played the rhythm of "Zip-a-dee-do-da" as a plane ran over them.)
    The DHC-6 Twin Otter...




    There are also some USGS and FAA maps depicting the STOLPort which I won't bother to post since most people may not find them interesting.



    http://www.geocities.com/pinkdc3/shawnee/shawnee.html
    Last edited by WDW Monorail; 01-25-2008 at 11:58 AM. Reason: To add source before I am reprimanded



    Quote Originally Posted by Phonedave View Post
    Well, if your parents can't teach you, maybe you can learn from a taser.

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    Re: Abandoned STOL airstrip near TTC

    Quote Originally Posted by WDW Monorail View Post
    The DHC-6 Twin Otter...

    Oh good God. That photo brings back a lot of memories! Mostly about baking alive while sitting on the tarmac at McCoy and at the STOL-Port, waiting for the Captain to fire up the engines and get some air going!

    I also recall looking out the window during the flight and there was practically nothing between the airport and Disney. I seem to recall you passed Tupperware's corporate headquarters and Martin Marrietta had a plant out there. But that was about it. Just miles and miles of undeveloped swamp! And there were no shopping centers or motels or hotels in the immediate area outside of Disney either. Just the North Phase 1 stuff and the Village area. Not much to look at upon approach.

    But Disney did have several nice logo'd stationwagons (an elongated car with extra hatchback storage, for those too young to know what a "stationwagon" is) that picked you up at the STOL-Port...pulling up right next to the plane. You just grabbed your luggage and tossed it into the back of the stationwagon, and in a few minutes you were at your Disney hotel. It was pretty neat.

    Your return flight to MCO was a bit more interesting logistically. But Disney had it fine-tuned like a military exercise. This was important as you didn't want to sit out at the STOL-Port in the car or out on the tarmac in the hot sun...as there were no buildings there other than a few maintenance shacks. So you relaxed in your hotel lobby and Shawnee called the hotel's bell desk the minute the plane was on its way, and it was "Okay folks, let's go!"...and then you took off from your hotel and by the time you arrived at the STOL-Port...the plane was just arriving, rolling down the runway.

    I don't know why, but that seemed so exciting back in those days.

    Also...back then your hotel reservation confirmation actually noted if you were arriving by car or plane. See this example from the Opus Archives of one of mine from 1976, for the notation of "Car":



    Re: Zip instead of Wish. I suppose it could have been. My memory on some things gets a little rusty with age. Regardless...I never heard any song. But if the story is true, that was probably because I wasn't paying attention.

    Some additional comments on McCoy Field (and then "McCoy Jetport" and finally "Orlando International Airport") that some may find of interest...

    McCoy Field was an old military air base. It kept the name when they started flying commercial civilian aircraft in there. For much of the 70's, the only "Terminal" there was a couple of old converted corrugated tin military buildings (also known as "quonset huts") at the end of the field! I know it's hard to believe that for much of the first decade of Walt Disney World...that's what greeted folks that arrived by air in those days. They are still there today, being used by FedEx or Emory or DHL or some of those freight companies. You will see them just past that last Toll Booth on the Beeline just before you turn South into the airport complex. They are just to your right off the freeway and are easy to spot.

    Many of us "old-timers" that were around back then still say we're "flying into McCoy" to this day. As I still do.

    It may also be hard to believe to some today, but the vast majority of Walt Disney World visitors in the early years arrived by personal automobile. Airline service into Orlando (and much of the rest of the country) was very limited and extremely expensive back in the old days before airline de-regulation. In those days most WDW Guests were from the eastern half of the U.S. and arrived by their own car. Folks from the western states generally headed for Anaheim. And WDW had very few international visitors in the early years. WDW started out as being much more of a "regional" attraction of the East Coasters, than the worldwide destination it's known as today.

    Airline deregulation (with it's resultant increased competition, more routes and frequency, and lower fares) and the improvement of the entire air transport infrastructure...have played a huge role in feeding the engine of growth of the Walt Disney World Resort. A much bigger role than most people realize or is published and discussed, IMHO.

    I personally think that Dick Nunis and his team's involvement on the Board of Directors of the airport authority and their pushing to greatly expand airport operations in those critical developmental years, has had as much to do with Walt Disney World's growth as any new Disney Theme Park or attractions have.

    Or to paraphrase that line from "Field of Dreams"....If we expand the airport, then they can come. And then we can build it (more parks).



    And Thanks for that photo!


  15. #15

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    Re: Abandoned STOL airstrip near TTC

    Quote Originally Posted by Opus1guy View Post
    And Thanks for that photo!
    You're very welcome.


    McCovy does indeed have an interesting history.
    It also served as a bunker for WDW fireworks storage until an on property site was constructed.



    Quote Originally Posted by Phonedave View Post
    Well, if your parents can't teach you, maybe you can learn from a taser.

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