Up in the air
Pulling back on the stick, he brought the plane up and over the lines but it landed hard, wheels spread out and completely flat. The propeller fractured and parts of it hit the gas station.
As early as 1965, Coral Ridge Properties, developer of Coral Springs, publicized plans to build an executive airport in the far west part of the city, adjacent to a proposed million-acre playground. Although neither materialized, aircraft were already setting down in the city on a regular basis.
Crop-dusters flew from Royal Palm Boulevard to the west of University Drive, servicing land still being farmed. Many residents and developer employees owned private planes and used Coral Hills Drive as a landing strip. When the brick Gulf station opened in 1969 on the southeast corner of Sample Road and Coral Hills Drive, it became a convenient place to park a plane as it was directly across from the brick Administration Building. That service station was the center of town, where the city’s sole firetruck was parked alongside aircraft.
James Hunt Jr., son of the president of Coral Ridge Properties, was an avid pilot who flew his Cessna between construction sites. When returning to Coral Springs after a week in Sebring, Florida Power and Light had strung electrical lines along Sample Road. He didn’t see them until his final approach. Pulling back on the stick, he brought the plane up and over the lines but it landed hard, wheels spread out and completely flat. The propeller fractured and parts of it hit the gas station. No one was hurt, but that was the last plane to land on Coral Hills Drive.
It wasn’t until 1983 that a feasibility study was requested by Mayor Ben Geiger to consider the use of ultralight aircraft for police activity. Equipment was tested but in the end it was decided not to purchase it.
After that, Florida National Properties submitted a petition to create a heliport between the post office and bank on the southwest corner of University Drive and Sample Road. After discussions with the city, the request was withdrawn. The next year, during the 1984 Honda Classic, the City Commission gave approval for temporary helicopter-landing site at the intersection of Coral Ridge Drive and Lakeview Drive.
The most famous aircraft to run into trouble here was the Goodyear Blimp, Stars and Stripes, when it crashed in Coral Springs on June 16, 2005. During a thunderstorm, it appeared to lose altitude and was blown into electrical lines along the northwest corner Sample Road and Coral Ridge Drive. It landed in the Industrial Park on top of a warehouse. Electricity was shut off, affecting 1,400 homes, while emergency workers attempted to rescue the pilot and passenger. It had to be dismantled in order to remove it.
Now, the only planes that can take off or land in the city are police, fire and EMS aircraft or anything granted a permit by the police department or licensed as an “air ambulance.” ?