Video: Commuting by air

By Silicon Valley Bureau Chief
CNBC
updated 7/25/2006 1:43:41 PM ET 2006-07-25T17:43:41

When Burl Skaggs gets ready to go to work in the morning, he doesn't get into his car. Instead, he flies. 

His 160-mile commute each way from the Sierra Foothills to his Silicon Valley engineering job is a 2-and-a-half hour one-way commute by car. At 4,500 feet above the stop-and-go traffice below, it’s a 40-minute breeze. Literally. 

“I won't get stuck in some traffic jam,” he said. “I am often over the guys who are sitting in traffic. I am zipping by them. It feels very good.”

After work, Skaggs returns home to Cameron Park, a community catering to those who have a passion for flying. Extra-wide streets let planes and cars can share the road. Garages are hangars instead, or you can park your plane outside. Mailboxes and other outdoor fixtures are shorter so they don't get clipped by wings. And no one bothers you during drive-way tune-ups.

For Skagg, living in the Sierra foothills is cheaper than living in Silicon Valley, even with all the extras. Land cost much less, and he got three times the house for less than half the price.

With a far cheaper mortgage, even with sky high fuel prices, an $80 round trip works out to be a bargain. No wonder over a hundred of these airpark communities are popping up acorss the country.

Nearly a hudred Cameron Park families have planes. It 's like a group of big kids with big toys.

Like air commuter Tyson Essenmacher, who has one plane for the fly-in to work and a Russian Yak 52 just for fun.

“I go out and do aerobatics and learn how to formation fly and do all sorts of things can't do in a normal airplane,” he said.

Retired dentist Lowell Fitt, who spent five years building a Kitfox two-seater, says he loves the freedom of flight.

“To get up in the air and go where you want to go and do what you want to do and see what you want to see,” he said. “And what you see is spectacular.”

But even Cameron Park commuters have their share of the morning rush hour. The only difference:  they're just moments away from being above it all.

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