After 29 years, glider port for sale

A group of pilots is trying to buy land

LaVern St. Clair is selling the Val-Air Glider Port after 29 years of ownership. The glider port is the only one in the Four Corners. The closest glider ports are on the Front Range and in Moriarty, N.M., about 250 miles away. Enlarge photo

STEVE LEWIS/Durango Herald

LaVern St. Clair is selling the Val-Air Glider Port after 29 years of ownership. The glider port is the only one in the Four Corners. The closest glider ports are on the Front Range and in Moriarty, N.M., about 250 miles away.

The Val-Air Glider Port is for sale for $1.2 million after owner LaVerne St. Clair ran it for 29 years.

The 35.6-acre port is 3 miles north of Durango and home to the Durango Soaring Club, where local pilots can take their glider planes out for a spin and tourists can reserve rides.

A group of pilots with the Soaring Club is trying to buy the land to keep the port operating as a glider park, but the group hasnít reached an agreement about purchasing the property, said local pilot Bob Zahradnik.

St. Clair declined to provide comment for this story.

The port operates from mid-May until mid-October and has two planes, three gliders with a 40-foot by 60-foot hanger and glider parking.

The port also has an office, log cabin storage shed, doublewide mobile home, barn, tractor, lawn mower and three golf carts, among other equipment.

Al Harper, owner of Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad, initially looked into buying the property, but he decided against it.

Harper owns a 12.5-acre park just south of the Soaring Club on U.S. Highway 550. In the winter, the D&SNGís Polar Express travels to the park, where wildlife is located in a pasture. There is also a pumpkin patch in the fall.

The glider port is the only one in the Four Corners. The nearest ports are on the Front Range and in Moriarty, N.M. about 250 miles away, according to the Soaring Society of America.

ďItís a very unique business that a lot of communities donít offer,Ē said Jack Llewellyn, executive director of the Durango Chamber of Commerce. ďI know it has a big visual impact because I see a lot of people pull over and watch the gliders.Ē

Llewellyn said the glider port isnít as popular as the D&SNGR, but the chamber receives calls and walk-ins from tourists wondering where itís located.

For more information, visit www.soardurango.com.

jdahl@durangoherald.com