Celebrating aviation in Glenwood Springs
Flying at 8,000 feet, Carbondale pilot Kerek Swanson can only smile as he maneuvers his Carbon Cub SS through the skies above Glenwood Springs.
“Its amazing what you can see up here,” said Swanson as he flew high above the tree line near Sunlight Mountain.
Swanson will join other local pilots in offering free airplane rides this Saturday as part of the 2nd annual Aviation Expo at the Glenwood Springs Airport.
“It’s a community event that educates the town as well as our neighborhood about the benefits and different uses of the airport for the community,” said Amy Helm, manager of the Glenwood airport. “We invited flight schools, lots of different aircraft that will be on display, and the EMS medical crew and helicopter.”
The expo not only offers visitors an education on aviation, but also a history lesson of aviation in Glenwood Springs.
More than eighty years ago the city council created a municipal airport in Glenwood Springs at the current location south of town. The runway was originally gravel until the 1950s when it was paved. Aviation activity in Glenwood dates back to as early as 1913, when the original airport was located in the vicinity of the current high school along Grand Avenue.
Nestled into the small neighborhood between County Road 116 and the Roaring Fork River, the runway isn’t long enough for commercial aircraft flights at 3,305 feet in length.
“It is a technical airport to land and take off at, with the length and the winds in the valley,” Helm said “We have a lot of flight schools that come and train here.”
Helm said that there are close to 70 aircraft based at Glenwood Springs Airport, more than half are Glenwood residents and business owners.
The Aviation Expo was the idea of Helm, “The event celebrates anything and everything that has to do with aviation,” Helm said. “We are trying to change the misperception that it’s a private golf course airstrip.”
There will be an aircraft static display, aviation booths, a 5K run and a children’s 1K race, with children’s activities including a paper airplane contest.
Helm expects 300-500 people to attend the event, and at least 40-50 planes to fly in for the day. Other activities at this year’s event will include live music by The Williams Brother Band out of Grand Junction. There will be a motorized skateboard show, as local Vaughn Shafer also will attempt to break his speed record. An RC aircraft and drone vendor will be on hand for demonstrations, weather permitting.
The expo gets underway at 8 a.m. and goes until 3 p.m. Helm encourages visitors to get there early, when the weather and flying is the best. Admission is free, but donations are welcome and will go to the Friends of the Glenwood Springs Airport, a nonprofit that awards scholarships to local graduating high school seniors who are pursuing careers in the aviation industry.
Organizers are asking visitors to bike or walk in, as the parking at the airport is limited. For more information on the event and the airport go to glenwoodspringsairport.com
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