If you can fly yourself to the Huntsville area, you have at least a trio of choices, offering everything from a busy international airport (KHSV) to a business-aviation-focused field (KMDQ) to one of the finest turf strips in the lower 48 states (3M5).
Huntsville International Airport/Carl T Jones Field (KHSV)
Huntsville International Airport/Carl T Jones Field is located 9 miles southwest of the city of Huntsville. The busy towered airport has parallel runways: 18R/36L, measuring 12,600 feet by 150 feet, and Runway 18L/36R, measuring 10,001 feet by 150 feet.
The airport offers 100LL and jet-A fuel, and there are multiple instrument approaches to the facility. One note for pilots: This airport does not allow “line up and wait” operations—formerly known as “position and hold.”
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Huntsville Executive Airport/Tom Sharp Jr. Field (KMDQ)
Huntsville Executive Airport/ Tom Sharp Jr Field is a nontowered airport located 1 mile northeast of the city of Huntsville.
The airport has one runway, 18/36, measuring 6,500 feet by 100 feet. The airport has ILS, RNAV, and VOR approaches. A note for pilots flying in on an IFR flight plan or practicing approaches: When shooting the ILS/LOC to Runway 18, be mindful of 32-foot trees located 1,019 feet from the runway, slightly to the left of the extended centerline.
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The airport offers both 100LL and jet-A. As the airport name implies, the airport is popular with the transient business crowd, so if you go, you may get to share a ramp with cool business aircraft.
Moontown Airport (3M5)
Moontown Airport is located 7 miles east of the city of Huntsville, though it feels much further out of town.
This nontowered airport is worth a visit, if for no other reason than to enter the cool name into your logbook. You can also add a little flair to the flight by navigating there with help from the Rocket VOR. The airport has a reputation for being one of the finest grass runways in the U.S., and sometimes it hosts pilot events. When the weather is good, pilots flock there, so be ready to communicate on the unicom frequency of 122.7.
The airport features a 2,180-foot-by-160-foot turf runway aligned 9/27, so make sure your short/soft-field skills are up to par. Note: There are trees on the approach from both directions. There are no instrument approaches, but 100LL is available.
This article was first published in the 2022 Southeast Adventure Guide of FLYING Magazine.