Sometimes I wonder if I’m the last person to find out about things. A reader who identified himself as "Jasper" mentioned a $100 hamburger when I put out a call for southeastern Kentucky travel suggestions. I thought he was referring literally to a hundred dollar hamburger. Such a thing does indeed exist so I didn’t rule it out as a possibility. Maybe he had a thing for ground beef wrapped in gold foil, infused with truffles and rolled in caviar, or something. I don’t know. I try not to make value judgments (and generally fail miserably).
Jasper provided a convenient link to explain the hamburger reference as term of art used in general aviation in the United States (perhaps with variations on the theme elsewhere?). A lot of pilots like to pick a random airport a couple or a few hours away, drop-in for a meal, refuel, and then take off again to fly back home. The sheer joy of flying seems to serve as the primary motivation, like someone taking a sports car out into the countryside for a weekend getaway. The $100 price tag refers to the cost of flying to a distant runway for no reason other than wanting to fly to it, and not specifically to any meal that may have been purchased there. It’s a euphemism, or a wink-and-a-nod, or both, even though fuel prices today would make a hundred dollar round-trip flight a bargain.
This sounds like the most awesome idea ever. I’d be all over it if I were a pilot. My county counting abilities would be over the top, too.
I had to check into this further. Various sources mentioned anywhere from 1,500 to 2,500 different fly-in restaurants. The 100 Dollar Hamburger is a website for a book with the same name that provides a compendium of such locations although it requires a subscription. A competing site provides a similar service and takes pride in NOT requiring a subscription. Do I detect some bitterness, perhaps?
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Jasper said he flew into London-Corbin airport for his $100 hamburger, stopping at The Hangar Restaurant found on-site there. That’s an example of a restaurant AT the airport, probably offered as a service by the airport’s fixed-based operator (FBO). It surprised me how commonly general aviation airports provided restaurants within their facilities, albeit usually in the larger ones. Their clientele extended beyond $100 hamburgers, though. Fly-in restaurants are patronized by airport staff and also by plenty of local residents especially in the smaller towns.
I consulted several websites in search of the best $100 hamburgers. One source included a list compiled in 2011. I can’t vouch for Rick’s Crabby Cowboy in Montauk, NY (map) or the Pik-N-Pig at Gilliam-McConnel airfield in Carthage, NC, although I liked both of their names so I thought I’d give them a mention.
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The Hard Eight at Clark Field in Stephenville, Texas, came up on the list and also on several website forums where pilots share information. I figured those mentions qualified the Hard Eight as one of the better $100 hamburger opportunities. It was an example of a restaurant NEAR an airport, and looked to be about a ten minute walk.
Flickr by JMD Pix via Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) license
I think my favorite location might have to be the Beaumont Hotel in Kansas (map). It’s a Bed & Breakfast inn, it’s a restaurant, AND it has its own dedicated turf runway. The hotel reportedly averaged about 38 aircraft operations per week.
Thank you Jasper for acquainting me with the $100 hamburger concept.
Has anyone managed to snag an invitation for the test version of the new Google Maps? Does anyone know how I can get one? — I did submit a request although I haven’t heard back. What’s a geo-geek gotta do to get a little map love?