No one really seems to know when the Charlotte Airport Overlook (CAO) became a destination spot for some in the city’s gay male community, although it appears to date back at least a few decades.

The parking area on the city’s west side that overlooks a busy section of Charlotte Douglas International’s take off and landing air strips, at its inception, was created as a destination for tourists and locals to enjoy watching air traffic arriving and departing. 

As the years have passed, the secluded nature of its location saw it develop into a sort of pop-up lover’s lane for just about anyone: straight and gay couples looking to share quality time in a unique setting and a place where gay men looking for casual encounters or something more could initially connect.

Over the years, however, it has become a place of much greater substance: a larger intersectional community of diverse culture. 

The community of gay men that hung out at CAO evolved from mostly closeted 30-somethings into a varied mix of more out and fewer closeted individuals. Now ranging in age from their twenties to their eighties, they’re usually sitting in parked cars and mixed together with a plethora of other Charlotteans of all sorts of orientations and identities. 

Among them, senior retirees, families with children, special needs groups on outings, bikers, bankers, aviation fans, drivers waiting to pick up a passenger on an arriving flight or workers on a lunch break.

It isn’t uncommon to see a smattering of gay men exploring hookup possibilities involved in side conversations with seniorly hetero couples about the day’s weather, city development issues or the various classifications of planes taking off and landing.

The shared history among the regularly repeating visitors runs deep. While there have been some rough moments in the past between the different communities that frequented CAO, acceptance and attitudes have evolved, along with legal precedents and cultural perspectives.

These days — with the abundance of dating apps and online sites available — there aren’t quite as many gay men hanging around as there once was, but they’re still there, and still connecting right alongside the other folks, socializing and/or cruising while marveling at the bevy of aviation varietals.

The bigger picture began to improve for CAO once the plain dirt and gravel parking lot received some much-needed landscaping. As relationships between the diverse culture of regulars evolved from often intolerant coexistence into friendships and downright inclusivity, another significant development occurred: the city gave permission for area vendors to offer lunch and dinner from mobile eateries.

Shortly after the city gave the green light for vendors to set up shop at the CAO, business became brisk and the inter-community socializing was hopping. That all came crushing down in early 2020, with the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic. Gone were a large contingent of the visitors, and completely absent were the food trucks. 

Now they’re back.

Starting with the first weekend of September, the mobile food service vendors will return, bringing with them a variety of good eats and renewed opportunity for pandemic-conscious socializing while checking out the stats on the variety of planes and any other visitors that might catch your eye.

Here’s the list of mobile restaurants participating and their scheduled dates and times:

▪ Sept. 4: Mustache Mikes (6-9 p.m.)

▪ Sept. 5: Mustache Mikes (12-3 p.m.)

▪ Sept. 10: Jus Taste (12-3 p.m.)

                  Mustache Mikes (6-9 p.m.)

▪ Sept. 11: 716ers Food (12-3 p.m.)

                  Mustache Mikes (6-9 p.m.)

▪ Sept. 12: Mustache Mikes (12-3 p.m.)

▪ Sept. 17: 22 Street Kitchen (12-3 p.m.)

         Mabry’s Que House (6-9 p.m.)

▪ Sept. 18: Jus Taste (12-3 p.m.)

▪ Sept. 19: Mustache Mikes (12-3 p.m.)

▪ Sept. 25: Mustache Mikes (6-9 p.m.)

▪ Sept. 26: Mustache Mikes (12-3 p.m.)

For interested Food Vendors who’d like to participate, go to cltairport.com/community/food-trucks to find out qualification needs and fill out a food truck application.

The address for the Airport Overlook is 4355 Airport Overlook Drive.

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David Aaron Moore

David Aaron Moore is a former editor of Qnotes, serving in the role from 2003 to 2007. He is currently the senior content editor and a regularly contributing writer for Qnotes. Moore is a native of North...