Making Memories In Hot Springs, Arkansas

by Yasmina Platt
Midwest Flyer – February/March 2019 issue

An unknown author once said, “The best things in life are the people you love, the places you’ve seen, and the memories you’ve made along the way.” I could not agree more and general aviation really makes it easy for us to connect all three of those. One trip is particularly fresh in my mind.

My father passed away, unexpectedly, a little more than a year ago. Many of my memories with him have been running through my mind since. My parents and I shared a few wonderful GA trips together. One of those was a long weekend in Hot Springs (the “Spa City”), Arkansas to celebrate my mom’s birthday. I recommend flying to Hot Springs; it is a great place to visit with convenient logistics.

The National Park System (NPS) is one of the best things the U.S. has to offer. My parents had not been to the one in Hot Springs, so we rented a Grumman Tiger and off we went… My mom sat up front with me (flying, navigating, etc.), and my dad was happy in the backseat watching us, reading, and looking out the window.

With about a 150 kt groundspeed, we made it to the Memorial Field Airport (KHOT) fairly quickly. From there, it only takes about 15 minutes to drive to town and to the entrance of the National Park. There are multiple ground transportation options to choose from: 1) The airport has a courtesy car for quick errands. 2) Some of the hotels have shuttles. 3) You could ride bicycles (we have folding bikes that we often take with us). 4) You can call a taxi or a Transportation Network Company (TNC). 5) One can always rent a car as well. Because we went in January when it is too cold to do any outdoor water activities, and since we wanted to walk/exercise and take in all the local sights, we took the shuttle to the hotel and walked around the rest of the weekend until our departure.

Hot Springs is a quaint and quirky Victorian town with fascinating history that includes warriors, gamblers, mobsters, and a recent U.S. President. Hot Springs is Bill Clinton’s hometown.

The Hot Springs National Park is a little different from most other National Parks. While it does have a few short hiking trails, it is centered around the soothing thermal waters known for their healing and relaxation powers. So, we walked around Bathhouse Row, including a visit to Arlington Lawn to see the fault where the hot springs emerge, tried a couple of different bath houses, and hiked to the 216-foot high Mountain Tower, even though the views from the airplane were much better!

We also went to Oaklawn Racing & Gaming to watch horse races – they are quite a big deal in Hot Springs. They normally have races Thursday to Sunday, from the end of January (when we went), to the beginning of May. They also offer (responsible) gambling for those interested.

While we did not engage in these activities, Hot Springs is also known for boating, fishing, biking, and attractions of different kinds (for example, a water and theme park, museums, a zoo, and an aquarium). Lakes Catherine, Hamilton, and Ouachita are within a few minutes of the Spa City – perfect for splashing in the summer months.

You can see by the photos I posted on my “Air Trails” blog that we had a great time and made long lasting memories. If only I could plan another such trip with my dad…

Live life! Enjoy spending time with your favorites! Travel! Fly GA! Make memories every chance you get! Look at your calendar and plan a trip to the Hot Springs area. It is a fairly central location with easy logistics.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Yasminia Platt has been with the international airport planning and development consulting firm AECOM since 2016. She also writes an aviation travel blog called “Air Trails” (, in addition to articles on “Pilot Destinations” for Midwest Flyer Magazine. Pilots can locate articles Yasmina Platt has written by going to and typing in her name in the search box.

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