About Casa

Life at Casa

About Casa de Aero

Those of us who live at Casa de Aero get a lot of questions. Do you have hangars? How close is the grocery store? Who shovels the snow on the runway?

This page is here to answer some of those questions. If you have a question that is not covered, please contact us through the contact page.

Casa de Aero is a residential airport community located along the I-90 tollway, west of Elgin and east of Belvedere.

There are 45 home lots aligned along both sides of the 3 3,000 foot runways. Lot 46 is a fuel farm, where we have auto gas and 100 low lead aviation fuel. The community owns and manages the fuel system. Residents pay cost for fuel, but we are not allowed to sell fuel to visitors.

Lot 46 officially includes the runways and taxiways. A single asphalt runway runs down the middle of the airport, aligned east-west, and is flanked by 250 foot wide grass runways on each side. Both ends of all runways enjoy an apx. 300 foot overrun.

When built, a ditch bordered the field on each end, but in the 1990s the community filled the ditches on both ends, creating flat land out into the farm fields as emergency runway overruns.

Other runway features include lighting that comes on with approaching darkness and a standard airport VASI system on both ends. Because of the darkness of the farm fields around the airport at night, the VASIs are dimmed to avoid blinding landing pilots.

The airport also has a wind direction indicator of the T type, large enough to see from the air. It is also lit at night. The pattern is at 1750 feet and is all south of the airport, with left traffic to runway 27 and right traffic to runway 90.

If you are visiting, please ask about the usage guidelines and follow them. Most significant is the mandate to perform your runup in front of the house where you are visiting, rather than at the end of the runway. As good neighbors, we avoid focusing the noise and prop blast on only our friends at the ends of the runways.

The airport has two instrument approachs, a VOR-a approach off the DuPage VOR at 18.1 DME. Minimums are 600 feet AGL and an LPV GPS approach from the west with somewhat lower minimums. The approachs are currently not approved at night, although we would love to improve on that detail.

We also have an aerobatic box to the north of the runway, in fact this is the reason that the pattern is all to the South. There are special rules to activate this box, these can be seen in the airport usage guidelines.

Asphalt taxiways provide hard-surface access to all homes from the airport. Turnoffs exist about 800 feet from each end of the runway. The runway is plowed in the winter, although the center turnoffs are not in order to allow skiplane operation.

Most of the maintenance of the runway, fuel pits, lights etc. is performed by residents on a volunteer basis. There are committees for each function, from fuel tank filling to light bulb replacement. This helps keep costs down, along with the can-do attitude of the residents, who have built, fixed, overhauled or installed virtually everything at the airport. Mowing and snow removal are hired in, although the airport has owned some of the equipment used.

A monthly fee covers maintenance and funds a capital reserve to help with anticipated runway resurfacing costs. Residents join the airport owner's corporation when they move in and share in the operation of this business.

From time to time there is a special assessment for special projects. In the past these have included filling in of the runway end ditches, augmenting capital funds for runway resurfacing and compliance with EPA fuel tank requirements. These are infrequent and the membership strives to plan ahead to avoid surprises.

This corporation is an airport management corporation incorporated under the condominium laws of Illinois. It is not a home owner's association, although certain properties are at times discussed as a business might discuss issues with any neighbor. For instance, the board deals with requests for construction equipment to use the taxiway to access a back yard project.

The lots are nearly all 3/4 acre, with a few 1 acre lots at the east end on the north side. The homes are custom and range in size and age: there have been homes built nearly every year. At the time of this writing only one vacant lot remains.

Originally the lots were numbered from 1 to 46. Some homes still carry this designation, but sometime before the 80's the post office started using fire sign numbers for home addresses.

Although the homes present a formal entrance to the street, most residents consider the runway side of the house to be their front yard. With people walking, riding bikes and driving golf carts around the circle of the taxiway, the active community interfaces through the runway side of the property.

As a general rule everyone gets to know all the neighbors. There are semi-annual corporation meetings and a few recurring gatherings for all residents. An unwritten guideline suggests that an open hangar door is an invitation to visit.

Perhaps more importantly, the neighbors are there to help. Whether you need a spark plug, an AN bolt, a rivet tightened or something machined for home repairs, there are people at the airport ready and willing to assist.

For more information on life here, please check out the living at Casa de Aero page.

An average of 2.5 airplanes per home live in the hangar that most homes have on the runway side of their property. Some are attached, some detached. And a few airplanes live in garages or basements.

Shopping is some distance away. Grocery and hardware stores in Hampshire are about 5 miles away. A few items are available at the truck stop, 2-3 miles away.

Hampshire also has several banks, excellent butchers and several other businesses such as pizza delivery. The schools are excellent and have been recently upgraded in anticipation of potential population growth in the region.

More serious shopping is further. The closest large grocery stores are in either Algonquin or Elgin, a 20-30 minute drive away. Home improvement stores are nearly as far, and warehouse grocery stores are yet further, in Crystal Lake or South Elgin.

For insurance purposes the fire station is within 5 miles. Two companies currently offer broadband internet (wireless) but no cable TV is available at the airport.

Broadcast television from Chicago can be received with a little effort: many homes have a 40 foot television antenna tower. Rockford stations are nearly as strong and may come in as well, especially if an extra antenna or rotor is used. Many homes have satellite TV.

Telephone and electrical wires are underground and natural gas is available. No public water services are available, all homes have wells and septic systems.

Streets are plowed and maintained by the county. Since all driveways are on the inside of the loop, the snow plow pushes the snow to the outside, avoiding a plow drift at the bottom of the driveway. Ah, the simple pleasures!

We try to have members involved with the local community, working to keep our interests in consideration as the area grows and evolves. We are not a political powerhouse, but we do try to make a difference.

In summary, Casa de Aero is a pleasant place to live, with enough organization to keep things running but not so much as to become overbearing. We have the things we need to live comfortably, and enjoy living in a friendly community where we all have something in common.

Copyright Keith Peterson for Casa de Aero 2014