Hundred Dollar Hamburger

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.

Airplane at the Beaumont Hotel, Kansas
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.

Completely Unrelated

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?

9 Replies to “Hundred Dollar Hamburger”

  1. Our local general aviation airport (Smartt Field in St. Charles, MO) used to have a restaurant on site (which says a lot given the lack of anything around the immediate airport), but it appears it has closed.

  2. About 40 miles SW of Kansas City at the Miami County airport; there is a bar-b-q restaurant named We B Smokin. It received conciderable publicity when President Obama stopped in for lunch while delivering a speech in Osawatamie, KS. The airport was much to small to facilitate Airforce One which landed in Kansas City. It’s usually the lead story in the local press to cover which bar-b-q joint a president or presidential candidate stops at while visiting.

  3. I spent my teenage years growing up near Hooks airport near Klein, Texas. This site: has a decent writeup.

    The Aviator Grill has pretty decent food. They also have a party room. My nephew turned five and had a birthday party in it. He loves planes. The party had a plane theme. Then we all got to go into a small Cessna and make vroom vroom sounds. I have a little bit of time flying a Cessna so I had fun too. 🙂

    The guy that owned the Cessna that I flew in the 80s lived in Wisconsin near Port Washington. He would fly from the airport near there and do things similar to the $100 burger just for the heck of it. He told me stories of flying to places in northern WI and then also dropping in on the EAA extravaganza in Oshkosh, WI. I wish I had a local friend with a small plane nowadays.

  4. Note that you can visit the Hanger Restaurant. It is not IN the airport and open to non-flyers.

  5. I sent in for an invite too. They make it sound like everyone that asks will get one eventually.

  6. Billings (MT) Logan Airport is “small”-ish (certainly not compared to some of these mentioned) and once had one of the most fantastic old-timey diners you’d ever see. People would flock to that place for breakfast and lunch. Sadly, they “updated” a bit and the new restaurant just isn’t the same (but at least it’s not a franchise). Not sure if they offered up a one-hundred dollar burger in name, but I suppose in spirit…

    Nowadays, you can actually find REAL $100+ burgers in some restaurants…google Wagyu beef burgers.

  7. I got my invite on Thursday. I’m really bad at reviewing stuff like this, but I can say that it’s obviously influenced by Maps for iPhone/Android as well as by Earth. It includes some 3D buildings (though not all, it seems) and a couple angles of tilting. The look of the map itself has changed and reminds me of Apple Maps in that regard, which I consider a plus (of course their data are way better). The layout is different in a way that’s probably more intuitive, but since I’ve got a lot of muscle memory built up with the old Maps, I’m consistently looking around in the screen for the thing I want to do next. That should go away with time. Last note on this: I have a fairly new computer so I can handle the new site, but I get the impression when using it that those with older or slower computers may have some difficulty.

    As for the $100 burger, my best friend once called a pizza place in Chicago, then got in the plane and flew from Ohio to Midway Airport. The pizza delivery came to the terminal a couple minutes later. He paid, turned around and flew back home, and sat down in front of his TV with still-hot authentic Chicago deep-dish pizza.

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