Home is where the hangar is: Air park offers ‘a different way of life’

“It was just a different way of life,” Tyler said. “You’ve got people that live on golf courses… it’s just what you love to do. It’s a unique way of life. The community is close and (they) look out for one another’s stuff.”
Tyler is a second-generation land surveyor. He has loved flying since childhood, when he and his father did surveying for aerial photography.

Tyler earned his private pilot license about 1986. Since then he has added his commercial, multi-engine instrument, commercial single-engine sea plane, private helicopter, and airframe and power plant mechanic licenses. He is able to fly different types of aircraft as well as legally maintain and work on them.

“Out of my love for flying, I’ve added on those different ratings. I have an aerial photography business. Trying to figure out a way of paying for your habit is a big thing. That’s all I was doing a lot of times,” he said.

Tyler has flown from Maine to San Diego, taking photos for maps and U.S. forest contracts, as well as scenic photography. He also rebuilds and restores antique aircraft.

Tyler has owned a number of aircraft, but now he houses other people’s aircraft at his hangar. He flies the Faulkner County Sheriff’s Office helicopter and maintains and exercises aircraft for owners who cannot fly as often as they would like.

“I’m far enough in my career that I’ll just fly for other people,” he said. “There’s always someone with an aircraft that needs flown. They need to be flown monthly.”

Tyler said Arkansas has several air parks in Greers Ferry, Clinton, Lonoke, Mountain Home and Flippin.

“A lot of Fed Ex pilots and UPS pilots live at an air park. There are a lot around. A lot of corporate pilots fly to work because they work at an airport,” he said.

Residents at Arkavalley are mainly people who fly for pleasure, he said.

“A lot of retired people live at air parks. They finish up their careers and sell their things so they can have an airplane (for a hobby).”

Tyler said of the safety of flying, “It’s a lot safer way and faster way of travel. If I can fly, I fly. I hate to drive. Aviation will always be to me one of the safest means of travel. They’re just a different breed of people who take care of them, and they take pride in what they fly.

“When you drive, you miss a head-on collision by two feet every time you’re on the road. The sky is very unpopulated. You never get within a mile of anybody. The Federal Aviation Administration does a good job of keeping it safe.”

Tyler said anyone in the Faulkner County area interested in taking up aviation may call Conway Aviation at 501.327.4559 to reach an instructor. It takes 55 to 60 hours to be eligible for a private pilot’s license, and students can take the written exam at Tyler’s office, Tyler Surveying and Mapping at 240 Skyline Drive in Conway.

In the future, Tyler said he would like to go into missionary aviation. He said missionaries flew into Haiti with relief supplies following the earthquake.

“They fly all over in bush country, fly into remote areas in Africa, central America, Alaska. They carry in supplies, medicine and the word of God. It’s a real needed service.”