Saturday, August 18, 2007

Aerial Reconnaissance of Heritage, USA (PTL)

Browsing the web this week, I ran across some pictures that a fellow explorer took of the defunct and decaying Tele-evangelist Theme Park known as Heritage, USA. Heritage, USA was operated by the infamous PTL, headed by Jim Bakker until the Jessica Hahn scandal.

I was curious to know if anything of the theme park remained. I'd never actually been in the park, but I remembered the approximate location from my childhood in Charlotte. I found the site in Google Earth and plotted the location on a sectional chart. I had assumed it would be too close to Charlotte-Douglas International Airport to fly over, but it turns out it's a couple of miles outside the Surface-area Class-B airspace, under an 1800 MSL shelf. Tight, but flyable.

I plotted my route carefully, planning a stop at Lancaster airport (LKR) to refuel and stretch my legs before beginning the more attention-requiring low-level flight to PTL. I made special note of all towers in the area, and highlighted the "highest obstacle clearance" numbers in the quadrant I would be in. I can fly 1000 feet AGL from LKR to the PTL site and be 400 feet below the floor of the Class-B airspace.

The flight was executed exactly as planned, without incident. In fact, the folks at Lancaster Aviation were having a hotdog cookout and even fed me lunch for stopping by and filling up!

The PTL site is mostly gone. The tower is still there, as is the "Kings Castle" structure. The water park which used to occupy the "island" in the center is completely gone. The water park entrance building and bridge are still there. As is the amphitheater and TV studio.

There are a couple of enroute pics, too. Enjoy!

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