Why do the Travoltas live in Ocala, Fla.?
Like most giant stars, John Travolta actually has a few houses, including one in the equally unlikely state of Maine. Before the tragedy that befell the family earlier this month, the Travoltas would go sledding in Maine every winter. But it's another huge passion of the actor's—actually two, one quite controversial—that makes Ocala the perfect Travolta retreat...
...one, of course, is flying.
The man has at least two planes, including, reportedly, a Boeing 707. That detail is important, because the property Travolta has at Jumbolair, in Ocala, comes with a massive airstrip. Like, seriously, massive.
"The strip at Jumbolair is as long as Miami's airport," Kathy Johnson, owner and publisher of Ocala Style magazine, tells me. So, while the area has plenty of private airstrips, this particular one can handle the massive planes that Travolta, and, occasionally, his famous visitors, prefer.
Additionally, Clearwater, Fla., the seat of the Scientology religion, is only about 90 miles from Jumbolair, Johnson tells me. Travolta is one of the most prominent members of the controversial organization, other than Tom Cruise.
"When he is in Ocala, he flies to Clearwater every single day," Johnson tells me. "He's very passionate about his beliefs."
(E! News has also learned that Travolta is working to open a Scientology Centre in Ocala. "He is the one that wanted it," Brittany Gendrolis, a staff member at the Church of Scientology in Tampa, tells E! "He wants a place up there so other Scientologists that live up there can go.")
Lastly, there's the general atmosphere. According to Johnson and other locals I contacted today, this is a family that prefers Red Lobster to white tablecloths and late nights at the movies rather than trips to Monaco.
And this is a quiet town; Jackie Gomillion, the manager of the nearby Saddle Rack restaurant, where Travolta likes the western omelets, tells me that the area is "is a very, very small community, and very closed—quiet."
Their additional home in the Bahamas notwithstanding, the Travoltas by all accounts are very down-to-earth. Johnson says that locals have even seen them shopping at Target and working out "at the same gym I go to."
"He has told us before that this is like a storybook for him and his family," Johnson tells me. "He feels safe and secure...will go and work out with a baseball cap and a towel, and he's friendly and normal."
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—Additional reporting by Ashley Fultz and Whitney English