If not for the huge garages next to most of the homes, the subdivision would look like many others. But this is Dogwood Airpark subdivision in Stafford County, and those oversized garages actually serve as airplane hangars.
And for your flying convenience, there’s an asphalt airstrip just a short taxi from your personal multi-plane hangar.
The particular property we’re talking about today is 55 Piper Place, the home of local aviation legend Roberta Ann “Bobbi” Boucher. She’s also known as The Plane Doctor at Shannon Airport, where she operates an airplane repair shop. In addition to being a pilot, she’s a certified airframes and power plants mechanic.
Much of her early experience with aircraft repair came during her stint with the U.S. Navy air forces, working primarily on the Lockheed P-3 Orion, the military version of the company’s four-engine Electra commercial airliner.
Just a year ago, on June 6, Boucher, 63, was performing high-speed taxi tests at Stafford Regional Airport, not far from Dogwood Airpark, on an experimental plane she was building. It inadvertently lifted off, quickly developed engine failure and crashed from low altitude. Boucher, was seriously injured, but has done her best through her ongoing recovery to maintain her business and has even flown again—with a co-pilot.
“The house is really cool. It’s my dream place,” she said in a telephone interview this week. “I really don’t want to give it up.”
Nevertheless, Boucher is looking to downsize her living arrangements and simplify her life. So she’s listed the Dogwood Airpark property with Pete and Matt Romani of Long & Foster Real Estate. The asking price is $675,000.
The 2-acre property includes both the three-level house, which has four bedrooms, three full bathrooms and a half-bath covering 3,328 square feet, and the hangar, which is 56 feet by 66 feet and has an attached one-bedroom, one-bathroom apartment with 800 finished square feet.
The property’s aviation orientation is not all that makes it unique. The house was built using timber frame construction, which employs heavy oak timbers that are joined using the mortise and tenon method, then pegged for added strength. The result is a home with soaring ceilings and many exposed timbers and joints. The style is known for its rustic ambiance as well as its durability.
The house was also built using structural insulated panel walls. SIPs consist of a core of polystyrene foam sandwiched by layers of engineered wood sheathing. Drywall is then applied to the interior side of the panel. The SIPs can then be installed between the timbers to create walls while leaving the beams exposed. In the case of 55 Piper Place, the house was then covered in brick to keep maintenance at a minimum, Boucher said. The roof is covered in 30-year architectural shingles.
Visitors are greeted by a waterfall that follows the contour of the stone path that leads to the main entry. The waterfall lands in a koi pond at driveway level. Boucher said the lone koi in the pond has been there six or seven years, living through the pond’s freeze/thaw cycles.
The main entry, with decorative transom and sidelights, opens into a large great room with a soaring, exposed-timber ceiling. Many areas of the home have hardwood flooring. Thanks to large glass doors and windows, there is plenty of natural light. Note that the great room ceiling fans are designed to look like airplane propellers.
The center-island kitchen has granite counter tops, stainless steel appliances, a tile floor and wood cabinetry that enhances the rustic theme. The open floorplan provides an adjoining dining area surrounded by glass that affords panoramic views of the wooded yard.
The main-level also has one of the home’s two master suites and the laundry room. Access is provided to the attached three-car garage.
Upstairs, there are three bedrooms including a second master or guest suite, and an open loft with wet bar and wine cooler which overlooks the great room. Two other bedrooms share a full bathroom. One of the bedrooms has walls of windows and glass doors for a future balcony. It could double as a sun room.
The house was completed in 2002, but certain improvements, inside and out, remain works in progress. A main-level deck, for example, lacks railings, and an interior upstairs railing is awaiting installation of balusters.
The basement is unfinished, providing a view of the concrete foundation and steel I-beams that support the heavy timber framing. The space includes a workshop, plenty of storage space and a radiant heating system built into the concrete floor. Utilities down here include air handlers for a three-zone heating and cooling system, and the indoor wiring for the emergency generator that will keep the house powered up in the event of an outage.
The enormous hangar is a short walk down the driveway from the house. It has space for at least three small airplanes, such as Pipers or Cessnas, along with lots of tools and equipment. Like the main-house basement, the hangar has a radiant floor heating system. It is air conditioned and has a half bath.
Attached to the hangar is a one-bedroom apartment with kitchen, living room and full bathroom. It can be rented to supply additional income.
Boucher said that for a pilot, the arrangement is ideal.
“I just have to taxi from the hangar to the airstrip and go,” she said. “To get home, there’s no hour or half-hour trip from the airport. I just land, taxi to the hangar and I’m home.”
Richard Amrhine: 540/374-5406