Goodspeed Airport and Seaplane Base – Haddam, Connecticut

Looking for a wonderful fly-in destination in New England? Here's a real gem in the southern Connecticut Valley! Enjoy the musical theater, a boat ride down the river, or just fly in for a bite to eat.

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Imagine an airport located in rural New England along the picturesqueConnecticut River. You fly in on a crisp, autumn day, enjoying the scenerythat only can be experienced in New England in the fall. Hop out of yourplane and walk four hundred yards to an historic nineteenth century hotelwhere you are served a delicious lunch or dinner. When your appetite ismore than satisfied walk next door for a musical theater performance recognizedas one of the best available in the U.S. As you takeoff over the river,still applauding the performances of the actors and the chef, you realizethat you have found a wonderful fly-in destination. Spread the word. Youhave discovered Goodspeed Airport in East Haddam, Connecticut.

Goodspeed Airport

Beech BonanzaLocated 22 NM ENE of the New Haven VOR, you’ll be able to easily locate runway14/32 which is adjacent to the Connecticut River. As a matter of fact,4,500 feet of this part of the river is a seaplane base.Traffic announcementsand advisories are on 122.8. As you approach the pattern watch for seaplanesoff the river. The only downside to this airport is the runway length.At 2,120 feet with a hill to the east and the river to the west, this landingsite is not for every plane or every pilot. But if you are comfortablewith short field landings and take-offs, don’t miss it.

Goodspeed is a great, small airport. The runway is paved, well maintainedand lighted throughout the night. There is a friendly FBO on site, EagleAviation, managed by Tom Anzelone. They pump 100LL at $1.89 per gallonand 80 to 87 octane is $2.24 per gallon. There is a $3 daytime parkingfee and a $7 overnight fee.

Have you ever considered getting your seaplane rating? This is the placefor you. Eagle Aviation offers a two day course for $600. Also on siteis Aviation Maintenance. Leave your plane here for an oil change or propbalancing or any other of your maintenance needs while you enjoy East Haddam.

Getting Around

You really don’t need any transportation except your own feet when visitingGoodspeed. This small town has all of its sites within a mile of the airport.You may want to rent a car to see the surrounding area. Enterprise Rent-A-Carwill deliver to the airport with advanced notice. Rates start under $30.00per day. East Shore Taxi is the local cab company. Contact them if youneed a ride to neighboring towns.

East Haddam

In the mid-nineteenth century East Haddam was a bustling river port.The Gelston brothers and their partner, William Goodspeed, built the luxuriousGelston House Hotel in 1853. It catered to the ferry traffic travelingon the Connecticut River.

Twenty years later Goodspeed added the opera house, a post office, steamshipoffices and shipping rooms on the bank of the river. Steamboats broughtentire Broadway productions to the Goodspeed Opera House. By the 1920strains had replaced ferries and the opera house closed. By 1958 the hotelhad also fallen into disuse. Thanks to preservationists both were reopenedin the 1980s and now provide visitors with entertainment and lodging in19th century style.

The Goodspeed Opera House is the most popular tourist attraction here.But perhaps you’d like to journey down the Connecticut River? Walk overthe bridge to Camelot Cruises. River trips are offered every day from Aprilthrough September. The Ramblin River Cruise departs 1:30 p.m. each dayand Sunday brunch cruises are from noon to 2:30 and priced at $29 per person.There are fall foliage tours on weekdays and even Murder on the River Cruiseson weekend evenings from April to December. There’s a full day cruise toLong Island offered from June to Labor Day.

We’ve flown into Goodspeed just to enjoy the little village. From theairport walk up the hill to the main street. Turn right to route 149 whichproceeds further up the hill to the left. Visit the Nathan Hale Schoolhousebuilt in 1750 where this Revolutionary War hero taught for one year. Nextdoor is St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church whose bell has an interesting historydating from 815 A.D.

Businesses in the village include a gift shop, bakery and ice creamparlor.

Where to Eat and Stay

We visited the Gelston House for lunch on a matinee day. The main diningroom and its outside Beer Garden were both full of theater patrons. Servicewas relaxed, so allow ample time for your meal. Our tasty entrees of chickenpot pie, swordfish and pasta with chicken were all priced around $8.

Appetizers, soups and salads are also available. Two out of three ofour desserts were delicious. (Skip the creme brulee!) The atmosphere ofthis charming old hotel combined with the view of the Connecticut Riverand good food make the Gelston House a popular attraction. You will needto make reservations.

If you would like to stay the weekend, the Gelston House has six roomsavailable for guests. Antiques abound in these rooms on the second andthird floors. Rates are from $100 to $225 per night with a deposit requiredat time of booking. There is a seventy-two hour cancellation policy.

The Hale-N-Hearty Restaurant, which is 1 1/2 miles from the airport,will pick you up at Goodspeed with thirty minutes notice. The restaurantserves lunch, dinner and Sunday brunch all featuring American cuisine.The adjoining Gillette Tavern has live music on weekends. It is closedon Mondays.

Directly across the river from the airport is the Dockside Restaurant.Take the 1/2 mile walk over the bridge to enjoy an informal seafood lunchor supper. On a nice day you can order your fish & chips ($4.95) andenjoy them on a picnic bench beside the river. Hot dogs, hamburgers andchicken sandwiches are available for those who don’t want the fried clams,shrimp or chowder. Menu items are priced from $1.75 to $8.95 and Docksideis open from noon to 8 p.m.

Cafe Pronto is in the center of town. It opens at 9 a.m. for coffeeand homemade muffins. You can pick up some sandwiches here and spread yourblanket at the airport for a riverside picnic.

Environs

Within ten miles of East Haddam you will find Gillette Castle, an unusualstone building built in 1919 by the actor William Gillette. It is locatedin a 125 acre park with beautiful trails and river views.Further southis Essex, one of the most beautiful towns in New England. Visit historicGriswold Inn for lunch or dinner and enjoy browsing the many boutiquesand shops. There’s a Connecticut River Museum here and a steam train rideto Chester.

Departure

When you depart, climb out over the river. Noise abatement proceduresrequest no turns until you reach 1000 feet. If time allows, do a littlesightseeing from the air. This part of the Connecticut River is well worthenjoying.

Gents grab your straw hats and ladies tie on your bustles. Head forGoodspeed Airport for a great daytrip that will return you to an era whenthe riverboat was king.

Goodspeed Information

  • Area Code: 203

  • Zip Code: 06423

  • Goodspeed Airport: 873-8568

  • Eagle Aviation: 873-8568

  • Aviation Maintenance: 873-1234

Transportation

  • Enterprise Rent-A-Car: 395-0758

  • East Shore Taxi: 388-2819

Hotel and Restaurants

  • Cafe Pronto: 873-81002 Norwich Rd.

  • Dockside Restaurant: 345-2470 1 Marine Park, Haddam

  • Gelston House: 873-1411 Route 82

  • Hale-N-Hearty Restaurant: 873-2640 381 Town St.

To See

  • Camelot Cruises: 345-8591 1 Marine Park, Haddam

  • Goodspeed Opera House: 873-8668 Box A, Route 82

  • Gillette Castle: 526-2336 Gillette Castle State Park