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A look around Carefree Skyranch

Skyranch as it looked after construction in the mid-1960's            And how the field looks today with townhomes, and a hangar for every plane!  The airport was among the first things built by Carefree Development Company, the others being the Desert Forest Golf Club and the Carefree Inn.  Desert Forest immediately became one of the top 100 courses in the US

 Skyranch Terminal     Skyranch Gate
Skyranch' s full-service terminal on the South side of the field.      The airport is gated, patrolled and has video surveillance, even a night vision camera!

  Pilatus at the fuel island
The townhome complex on the lower half of the photo.  A Pilatus aircraft refuels with JetA at the Skyranch fuel island


Skyranch seen from Black Mountain, beyond is the Mazatzal Wilderness and Barlett Lake is just over the hill.    Desert Forest's Top 100 golf course is on the North side of Skyranch.  The pros say you "can't win the Masters, until you can play this course.  While no homes were ever built on the golf course during development, Skyranch  homes back up to it.

Skyranch has a 2,000 ft. long dirt runway for the taildraggers          Custom homes on the North side of Carefree Skyranch

  Plasi system  AWOS tower Airplane with mountain behind

Plasi Vertical guidance system at the airport.      AWOS tower in service              Western Views

      Citation takes off
  Skyranch has everything from Ultralights to Citations, King Airs and Pilatus using the field. Weight limit is 12,500 lbs.

  Preparing for the annual Skyranch hangar party. This one was held on the eve of a community Open House with static displays. In previous years, the Wings and Wheels have drawn over 20,000 people with a car show AND planes.
Community open house on the airport taxiway. A variety of antique and modern general aviation planes were on display..


Here's a rare photo! This archive Skyranch press photo is reprinted from the Town of Carefree Commemorative Brochure, available at the Carefree Town Hall, celebrating Carefree's 25th anniversary which took place in 2009.  Photo is from the archives of Gerry Jones.  When Skyranch opened as one of the first residential airparks in the nation fifty years ago, it was classy even then!  Although the airport does offer a plane concierge service, we're still looking for those bellhops!

Residents of Skyranch have only a twenty minute flight to the high mountain airport of Payson, a great breakfast stop, and also the site of a unique Airplane Campground, complete with tables, fire rings, flush toilets and hot showers! You'll fly over Bartlett Lake, just twenty minutes from Carefree, a 12-mile-long lake with a full service marina. Skyranch is also a little over 1 hour in the air from the beaches of Rocky Point, which have a new International Jet Port airport of entry.

Veteran Broadcaster Hugh Downs along with Skyranch pilot and award-winning talk-show host, Preston Westmoreland (left)   Hugh tells an amazing story to illustrate how desirable the land is along the runway.  When Skyranch was first developed, Hugh Downs, along with Gerry Jones, who has built over 80 homes in the area, constructed the VERY FIRST home on the runway there.  Hugh and Gerry thought it would be an incredible location, for pilots who wanted to be on the airport, and also for golfers, who would back to the Desert Forest Golf Course in the rear.  Both men were surprised, when it tuned out that the  purchaser of the home was neither a pilot, or a golfer! The  buyer exclaimed "where in the world can I get a view and a lot like this!". Indeed, even today, not all the owners on the runway are pilots, but folks who enjoy the view