You may wonder… what is Oklahoma’s Adventure Road? Easy! It’s Highway 35, cutting Oklahoma in half and connecting Oklahoma City with Dallas/Fort Worth to the South and Wichita to the North. The Google Maps map below depicts it.
The Chickasaw Nation has created what I think is a really good website to showcase what they are calling “Oklahoma’s Adventure Road.” And they do it in a format I like… by adventures or what I call “trails.” Their “adventures” or my “trails” are organized by interest including things to see and do along or near Highway 35:
And it gets better… you can create your own adventure/trail if you do not necessarily want to follow any of the previously prepared adventures. Click the heart to save anything to your My Adventures page and get ready to travel! The screenshot below shows both the “heart” and “My Adventures” functions.
Soooooo this Adventure Road website is really designed for hitting the roads. But we fly. Therefore, after you have selected an adventure you want to experience or defined your own adventure, take a look at a sectional to find the most suitable airports to fly into.
And, since the Chickasaw Nation did not list an “aviation adventure,” I thought I would create one. Here we go, here is the route I prepared:
Ponca City, OK
Let’s start with this popular stop. Why? Well, because “the hottest jalapeño on the runway” has been at the Ponca City Regional Airport (KPNC) for over 30 years - Enrique’s Mexican Restaurant that is! They are open for lunch and dinner every day except for Sundays.
The Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department website says that Perry was born of the 1893 land run which opened the Cherokee Strip for settlement. They suggest learning about the land run at the Cherokee Strip Museum. The Perry Municipal Airport (F22) is your gateway airport.
If you don't mind a 25NM detour, the Enid Woodring Regional Airport (KWDG) houses the Barnstormer's Restaurant with great windows facing the ramp. It is open Monday - Friday, 8 am to 2 pm, except for the 4th Saturday of the month when there is a monthly fly-in.
Locals claim Stillwater is America’s Friendliest College Town. You should decide that on your own. In addition, they are also known for the Red Dirt Film Fest, an independent film festival, and the Land Run 100, a 100 and 50-mile long bicycling endurance challenge on gravel and dirt roads. The Stillwater Regional Airport (KSWO) is a Class D airport.
Visiting an aircraft manufacturing company is always very interesting. It is still a very handcrafted industry. Zivko Aeronautics, Inc., builder of the Edge 540 aircraft among other things, is based at the Guthrie-Edmond Regional Airport (KGOK). Who doesn’t like a fun and capable 540? I know Red Bull Air Race pilots do. That’s what most of them fly and they’re made in small town USA.
Let me tell you a little secret. My husband and I love drive-in theaters. The Beacon Drive-In Theater actually allows us pilots to fly-in and walk over. How cool! They haven’t figured out how to get our aircraft to taxi over there yet but, hey, maybe that’s next :) They’re not too far from it. You can see it in the aerial below. Keep in mind they are not open year around so check their calendar first.
Oklahoma City, OK
Oklahoma City is the largest city on the air trail. As such, it has several airports for you to choose from:
Once on the ground, there are at least two museums in town that have aviation ties, the History Center and the 45th Infantry Division Museum.
In addition, here are some other suggestions:
Do you have a kid/grandkid/friend interested in universities with aviation programs? If so, you’re in luck! The University of Oklahoma offers good aviation degrees (aviation management, non-flying aviation management, and air traffic management) and professional flight training and they are based at the University of Oklahoma Westheimer Airport (KOUN). In fact, as the name says, KOUN is owned and run by the University.
Food is always a good attractant for pilots. Here is another opportunity. Ozzie's Diner is in the terminal building of the Airport and offers good views of it. Ozzie’s serves daily from 6 am to 9 pm, except on Sundays when they close at 3 pm.
With the new headquarters in Norman, Commander Aircraft Corporation will keep the existing fleets: maintaining, in service, and flying. And Commander says they are ready to be reborn with a new model, design, and features. Maybe it’s time for a visit.
Keep in mind that AOPA will host one of their 2017 Regional Fly-ins at KOUN on September 8-9 so that may be something else to consider when planning your Oklahoma Adventure Road trip. From the AOPA event website:
“Now, with even more ways to develop your skills while you hang out with other pilots, AOPA has two days of workshops, seminars, exhibits, aircraft displays, good food, and fun waiting for you. We’re hard at work developing an expanded camping experience, Saturday afternoon fly-outs and more features to enhance your AOPA Fly-In experience!”
Pauls Valley, OK
From the Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department website:
“This small town could take days to explore. Some journey to Pauls Valley, Oklahoma via the Heartland Flyer passenger train, which stops every morning on its trek from Oklahoma City to Fort Worth, Texas. Near the station, view local history and a 1902 steam engine at the Santa Fe Depot Museum and Plaza. Let your imagination run wild at the acclaimed Toy and Action Figure Museum, or satisfy your sweet tooth at the Bedré Chocolate or Field's Pies factories.”
The Pauls Valley Municipal Airport (KPVJ) is now a one 5,000 foot runway airport. Don’t let the sectional fool you.
Jake’s Joint restaurant is open for lunch, Monday through Friday, at the Ardmore Municipal Airport (KADM). Jerry Allan King-Echevarria (JAKE) operates it and has operated an aircraft maintenance and customizing company on the Ardmore Airpark since 1993.
If you are not intending to eat while in Ardmore, the Ardmore Downtown Executive Airport (1F0) may actually be a more convenient airport for you. It’s a smaller airport and closer to town.
This website recommends the boutique shopping on charming Main Street, the modern art at Charles B. Goddard Center, or the Southwest Historical Museum and the adjacent Military Memorial Museum for local history.
Lake Murray, OK
Lake Murray is a 5,700-acre lake very close to Ardmore but it has its own airport. We don’t have too many state parks with airports but the Lake Murray State Park Airport (1F1) is one of them! That’s quite a treat! However, keep in mind that 1F1 has 2,500 foot runway and it is mostly unattended. It’s also worth noting that this Airport has been targeted negatively by the media in recent years so we need to show them we use it just like some people did here.
Lake Murray is the state's oldest and largest state park. While there, you can enjoy a round at the park's golf course or find many fossils and a 288-pound meteorite at the hard to miss Tucker Tower Nature Center. The structure looks like a lighthouse and served as a summer retreat for Governor Murray.
Lake Texoma, OK
And from one lake to another… the Lake Texoma State Park Airport (F31), owned by the U.S. Corps of Engineers, is the second state park airport this air trail highlights. It has a 3,000 foot runway with an out of service (indefinitely) airport beacon.
Lake Texoma is Oklahoma's second largest lake and one of the premier striped bass hot spots in the southwest. Besides fishing and a myriad of watersports, Lake Texoma State Park offers swimming, camping, picnic areas, wildlife viewing opportunities and hiking. The park also features comfort stations with showers, boat ramps and a small hiking trail near the Two Rivers Nature Center. The privately operated Catfish Bay Marina located within the park offers a full service marina with a fuel dock and striper guide fishing services. A marina mart featuring a convenience store and gas station is also available on-site.
And, now, you can add your touch to this aviation adventure or air trail by deciding which aviation and non-aviation stops you’re going to make.
Fly safe and fly often! These air trails are a lot of fun!