Ocean Reef Airport Then & Now
by Holly Houser, Ocean Reef Press Editorial Assistant
The luxury of arriving by land, air or sea is a characteristic unique to Ocean Reef Club, and as one of the only clubs with their own private airport, 07FA (Ocean Reef Club Airport) is a very special part of the Club’s narrative.
The history of the Airport dates back to the late 40s, early 50s. According to the Ocean Reef history book “On The Reef,” written by Dick Farmer and Shirley Shipley, initial conversations about building an airstrip began when original Ocean Reef founder Morris Baker purchased what was then known as the Dispatch Creek Fishing Camp. At the time, traveling to Ocean Reef was difficult as a 1944 fire destroyed the Card Sound draw bridge. One had to drive to Key Largo on US1 and then head back north on a dirt road (905) in order to get to The Reef. By the mid-1950s, the bridge was rebuilt, the Ocean Reef boat channels dredged and deepened, and all main roads to Ocean Reef paved. The only manner of transportation not accounted for was air.
Construction on the first airstrip, which was a 2,000 ft. grass airstrip, was finished in 1956 and the first air terminal was completed in 1968 with an elevation of one foot.
By 1971, accessing Ocean Reef by air became much easier, especially for those without planes. The Montauk-Caribbean Airways, owned by Member-at-the-time Bob King, based a six-seater plane at the Ocean Reef Airport to operate five commuter flights daily to and from Miami International Airport. When Members stepped off the twin-engine plane at the Ocean Reef Airport, they were greeted with a red carpet and piña coladas. Provincetown-Boston Airlines later took over, offering seven flights a day for a couple years.
Eventually the airstrip was redone as a 4,456 ft. asphalt runway and was not altered again until this past summer’s renovation project.
When planning the complete runway overhaul, upholding the safety and integrity of the Ocean Reef Airport was at the forefront of everyone’s mind. The much-needed enhancements included a newly paved tarmac, improved airfield visibility, raised and grooved asphalt allowing for use during wet conditions, improved drainage through the use of injection wells, installation of an Automated Weather Observing System (AWOS), improved runway lighting, and removing obstacles close to the edge of the runway.
This necessary project was made possible with the help of a small number of donors. With their generosity, 80% of the project cost was covered.
To see the new improvements and recognize those who helped make this a possibility, join fellow Members at the Ocean Reef Airport Grand Reopening celebration and ribbon cutting Sunday, November 10 at 3 p.m.