Flying L's History

The Flying L became a 542-acre “dude ranch” in 1946, when Jack Lapham (the “L” in Flying L) purchased it from the original Polish settlers.   At that time, Lapham was a retired Air Corps colonel.  His dream was to create a place “where modern people can go and find themselves in the midst of yesterday.”   Flying was his love, so the colonel built an airstrip and ran a flight school here.  New aircraft was also tested here and new aircraft designs were introduced at the Flying L. 

 

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Click the link below for an informative web articel:

http://www.airfields-freeman.com/TX/Airfields_TX_SanAntonioW.htm#flyingl

 

The original Villas, and the Pilot's Lounge, were designed by associates of the famous architect Frank Lloyd Wright and are rich in Flying L history.  Check out the Frank Lloyd Wright link under the About Us menu. 

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The Flying L became a favorite “watering hole” for war heroes, movie stars, and literary giants.  The Ranch’s guests have included John Wayne, Slim Pickens, Willie Nelson, Tex Ritter, Jim Reeves, Ray Price, Buck Owens, Chill Wills, Robert Fuller and many more.  The television show The Cisco Kid filmed at least one episode on the Ranch.
 
The ranch was transferred from the Lapham family to new owners in the 1960's after Colonel Lapham’s tragic air crash.  It continued to grow over the years under different owners to become a much larger enterprise.  Current owners, who were employees of the Ranch, took ownership in 2013.  Many changes and improvements are currently being made to bring guests more conveniences and comfort, but also to protect and enhance the original and historic designs of older facilities.  An emphasis on “bringing history back to life” on the Ranch is now embraced, and over time some of the original facilities, such as the Pilot’s Lounge, will be renovated and brought back to life.  
 

Today, the Ranch is a unique western style Hill Country Resort and Conference Center.  It is more diverse than any other guest ranch or resort facility in the area. The Flying L hosts family vacations, family reunions, corporate groups, golf groups and tournaments, youth groups, church groups, day groups and hopefully YOU!
 
To quote one of our guests, “Whoever said you can’t have it all has never been to the Flying L Guest Ranch”.

 

 

Both the Colonel's Quarters and the brand new Lapham's Lodge are named in Colonel Lapham's honor. Both units have 10 bedrooms with their own bathrooms, and each unit have meeting rooms and kitchen facilities.

 

                                                                Colonel Lapham

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  Colonel's Quarters                                             Lapham's Lodge

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 Become a Member of the Pilot's Lounge Club!  Click Here!

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Take a look back in history...

Article from a 1947 Life Magazine on the Flying L Guest Ranch:

"America's first dude ranch airpark opens with a rollicking round up of new fashions designed for rides and fliers.

On retiring from the Army Air Forces two years ago, wealthy Texas Oilman Colonel Jack Lapham conceived the idea for a unique kind of dude ranch. A 7,000 hour flier, he had always deplored the inconvenient and unsightly airports private fliers had to use. Lapham decided to build one that was both practical and pleasant and make it into a resort.  The result was the Flying L Ranch, opened last month, the first dude ranch airpark in the U.S.

Thoroughly equipped with runways, repair shops and expert mechanics, the Flying L offers its guests turkey hunts, black-bass fishing and excellent riding, all for $15 a day.  The 12 cottages are built to resemble airplanes and the pilots' lounge, right on the landing field, serves as a dance pavilion.  Colonel Lapham and his wife run the ranch, less concerned with realizing a profit on their $750,000 investment than with making the Flying L the first of a series of air ranches all over the country. A show of specially designed flying and ranching clothes marked the airpark's formal opening."

Nostalgic pictures from the Flying L Guest Ranch from the 1947 Life Magazine article: 

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