Airport a pilot’s drawPublished 7:15pm Saturday, September 28, 2013
Each year, Washington sees plenty of visits from people drawn to its long history, to its waterfront, to the selection of restaurants and shopping in the downtown area. According to Tourism Development Authority numbers, the town is increasingly becoming known as a day trip destination, a centrally located, quaint Southern town just a couple hours’ drive away from the larger cities of North Carolina.
But for two Delaware residents who own a vacation home on Ocracoke Island, Washington had an even bigger draw, one that had them packing up for a quick visit: the airport.
“We were spending a week on Ocracoke and wanted to do a little day trip,” said Kirsten Zapotok. “I kept hearing people talking about ‘Little Washington’ over and over again, so we pulled out a map, and I was surprised the map didn’t actually say ‘Little Washington,’ it just said Washington,” she laughed.
While the easy distance to Washington from Ocracoke had Kirsten and her husband Dan loading up their puppy, Kiko, and taking off in their 1977 Cessna 182, it was the airport and its amenities that had them flying the airways over the waterways to land at Warren Field.
Dan Zapotok, who earned his pilot’s license 17 years ago, said it was Warren Field’s close proximity to the downtown waterfront, restaurants and shopping, as well as the ability to fuel up the plane while in town, that made Washington an ideal destination. The couple brought foldable bikes, along with a trailer for Kiko, to make the ride downtown once they arrived.
But according to the Zapotoks, the highlight of their day trip was the accommodation afforded to them everywhere they turned: from the offer of the use of the airport’s courtesy vehicle, to restaurant staff at On the Waterfront reopening after lunchtime hours to serve them, to the local couple who took them under their wing and gave them an insider’s look at the town.
The Zapotoks planned to make more trips touring eastern North Carolina during their island stay, but another visit to Washington just may be in their future.
“We’ve made a whole connection here,” Kirsten said. “And we’ve been invited back.”