With an "if-you-can't-beat-'em-join-'em" mentality, Patsy finally decided to take flying lessons at age 51 to fight her fear and got her license two years later in 1985.

"That was the best thing I ever did for myself," she said. "That gave me the confidence to reach for other things."

After 9/11, flying became "a lot less fun," Alfred recalled.

In response to the 2011 terrorist acts against the U.S., an Air Defense Identification Zone was established in 2003 that covered a 30-nautical-mile radius of the White House, an area encompassing Haysfield.

Most pilots didn't want to deal with the additional procedural regulations required to fly in restricted airspace and moved their planes to neighboring airports in Frederick, Westminster and Fort Meade, he said.

"But everybody loved this place," Patsy said. "They said it was like coming to the country. Everybody knew everybody and it was like a party every day."

Cochran said his guess is that the Basslers will adapt well to the changes and Alfred will continue flying his ultralight, which he described with a chuckle as "a bit like riding in a lawn chair."

Craig Kerr, who was a flight instructor at Haysfield from 1982 to 2012, when the airport's closing was imminent, said he recently flew over Hayland Farm but the sight saddened him.

"I looked down and thought, 'It doesn't even look like an airport anymore,' " said the Columbia acupuncturist, who taught Patsy and David to fly and still gives lessons. "But that makes its closing a lot less painful to endure."

Though Alfred won't be able to take off from his new property in Woodbine, he isn't going to let that small inconvenience stop him from flying. He's already narrowed down his options for parking his planes to two Carroll County airports, either Harrison Farm Airport, in Union Bridge, or Clearview Airpark, in Westminster.

"Old guys keep coming back crying about all their Haysfield memories. They're almost worse off than I am," Alfred said, as the couple's last weeks on Hayland Farm tick by. "I could almost cry about the place closing, but I'm not going to let myself sink into that kind of mood."

Perhaps Kerr, who is 76 and one of those "old guys," summed it up best: "I consider Haysfield a gift to all of us who have a love of flying and enjoy having pilots around us.

"We purposely didn't advertise the airport's location because we wanted it to be Howard County's best-kept secret," he said. "It was just this neat, tucked-away thing that existed, and we owe these two amazing people a debt of gratitude for that."