Private Aviation Community, Home To John Travolta, Is Up For Sale In Florida

Real Estate

Picture a residential development in Florida. Now picture it with an aircraft runway capable of accommodating aircraft as large as a Boeing 747. That can only be Jumbolair, an exclusive gated community with a resident movie star and certified private pilot, John Travolta. 

The 550-acre community just north of Ocala is on the market for $10.5 million. The price tag includes the country’s largest private lighted runway, the five-bedroom Muriel Vanderbilt mansion with a swimming pool and fitness center with original Nautilus equipment, a conference center with seating for up to 400 guests, a nearly 90,000-square-foot warehouse complex and Jumbolair Aviation Estates subdivision, a 38-lot private aviation residential development with deeded access to the runway. 

Listing agent Bartow McDonald, managing director of SVN Florida Commercial Real Estate Advisors, believes this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to acquire a special asset with a colorful history. 

He said, “It’s what’s beyond the runway that makes Jumbolair so special. It is the ability to go anywhere in the world from your backyard.”

The 550-acre Jumbolair complex has been the stuff of folklore for years. Originally the equestrian mansion home of American socialite Muriel Vanderbilt, the property was later acquired by entrepreneur Arthur Jones, founder of Nautilus exercise machines. 

Jones built the paved runway, which accommodated his personal inventory of private planes. He also financed the warehouse complex next to the runway, which Jones used to build MedX Corp., which was devoted to producing strength training and medical rehabilitation equipment. 

“Arthur Jones loved planes,” said McDonald. “He was an avid aviator, and he owned a fleet of 707s. He was quite the character. He built the runway for $6 million and had his own 707s on it among other planes.” 

At one point, Jumbolair was a haven for orphaned African elephants, rhinos, crocodiles and a silverback gorilla named Mickey. In 1984, Jones flew his Boeing 707 from Jumbolair to Zimbabwe and back to rescue 63 baby elephants in a mission that caught the attention of the national media and was featured on ABC’s 20/20 television show.  The elephants had been marked for death as part of a culling operation.

In 1989, Jones and his wife, Terri, divorced, and she changed the focus of the property by adding Jumbolair Aviation Estates, an exclusive community that includes 38 residential lots and the longest private paved runway in the country.  

Jumbolair Aviation Estates is zoned for residential, industrial and agricultural use. The mansion covers 7,686 square feet, along with a 1,000-square-foot swimming pool and bar. The five-building warehouse complex is 88,730 square feet.

Old-fashioned street lighting, green pastures and majestic oaks enhance the community. The development has underground utilities, digital cable, high-speed internet service and fire hydrant systems throughout. 

The Jumbolair Airport runway is 7,550 feet long, paved and lighted. Five Quonset hut hangers sit on the property along with horse stalls and a banquet hall that can seat 400.

“This is the place for someone with a passion for aviation who wants to be part of an exciting, vibrant community,” said McDonald. “This property is also in the heart of thoroughbred horse country. Ocala is the horse capital of the world, and the World Equestrian Center is just a short distance away – perfect for someone in the market for an equestrian estate.”

He believes that whoever buys Jumbolair will be one or a combination of the following: 

1. A high net-worth individual with a large aircraft seeking privacy and security who could easily build a large estate here, especially someone with a passion for horses

2. An entrepreneur with a passion for aviation who could use the warehouse complex for business and enjoy a Florida residence. 

3. A real estate developer interested in expanding the property as an exclusive aviation community. 

4. An aviation-related business that could use the runway and warehouse complex.

Thirty-five income-producing assets are on Jumbolair, including seven single-family homes, seven hangars, six apartments and a seven-unit park for mobile homes. 

“Somebody could invest in these assets to generate more income or shut them all down and use the property for their own use,” said McDonald. “All of the rental-income properties are on 30-day leases, so they can be terminated quickly if need be.” 

McDonald noted that earlier this year comedian Jay Leno flew to Jumbolair in a Boeing business jet to film an episode of Jay Leno’s Garage with Travolta, whose home has two runways that lead directly to his front door.

Travolta, an accomplished pilot, and his wife, Kelly Preston, are longtime residents of the community. Travolta, whose career took off as Vinnie Barbarino in television’s Welcome Back, Kotter, is best known for his roles in such films as Saturday Night Fever, Grease, Gotti and Pulp Fiction. The actor can take off, touch down and taxi to his front door, all in his own jets. 

“Flying is everything,” said Travolta in an interview for Dassault Falconer magazine, adding that “it’s the ultimate to have your globe at your beck and call and the runway in your backyard. It’s a dream.” 

For more information, contact Bartow McDonald at or call 352-274-3800.

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