September 2012

The Aerodrome
The Journal of the First Aero Squadron Foundation

September 2012Columbus, New Mexico

Runway Dedication

Put Saturday, October 6th, Columbus Day 2012, on your calendar. That is the day that we will dedicate the newly reopened east- west runway on the historic Aerodrome property just south-east of the village of Columbus, New Mexico. We have planned a pretty low-key celebration centered at the local American Legion Hall with food and local transport available. It is rumored that we are negotiating with an El Paso parachute team to have a demonstration jump preceding the ribbon cutting occasion. Several aviation notables have indicated they want to attend.

Join Us on October 6th

Paul Salopek

Guest Speaker Pulitzer-Prize Winning Journalist and Columbus Resident Paul Salopek

Members will get a chance to visit with aviation-legend Jim Greenwood’s daughter, Jeanne Plant, and hear and meet two-time Pulitzer Prize Winner and Columbus resident Paul Salopek as he tells us about his next venture for the National Geographic: walking around the world, a project scheduled to take seven years! Paul also writes for the Chicago Tribune. You may recall New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson negotiating his release from a government prison in Sudan a few years ago when he was reporting on the fighting there. Paul does not do many public appearances; we are fortunate to have him on this occasion. Several aviation notables have
indicated they want to attend.

Headquarters for the day will be the local American Legion Post 1916 on East Broadway Street, right across from the U.S. Post Office. Lunch will be available there for FASF members for $7.00; fly-ins will be served free.

Incidentally, the American Legion Post is holding its monthly all-you-can-eat buffet breakfast on October 6th from 7:30 to 9:00. It’s delicious and a bargain for only $6.50.

Air Strip Caveat

The newly opened east/west strip at the old Columbus Airport (ColAir) (a part of the historic First Aero Aerodrome) is a private non-charted runway. On the El Paso Sectional, about five miles to the NNW of ColAir, is a strip marked First Aero Squadron. First Aero Squadron (NM09) (4000’) is an airpark named to memorialize those pioneers aviators. It is NOT, repeat NOT, the new strip at the ColAir site that we refer to as the Aerodrome. However, transportation will be available from First Aero Squadron and from Hacienda sur Luna, just to the north (4500’, paved). Some tie-downs are available at Hacienda, however, we suggest that you bring your own. The wind has been known to blow here from time to time. There will be parking spaces available at the aerodrome but no tie-downs.

None of these fields have fuel. Area operations are monitored on 122.9 with favored landing direction to the west. Deming is the closest commercial field offering refueling and hangars. If we  know your travel plans and ETA, we may be able to help with transport from Deming.

The new Aerodrome strip is about 2600 feetin length at 4003 feet elevation. The location on my GPS is 31 deg 49.434 min N, 107 deg 37.812 min W. As of this writing, there has been only one operation; that by an experienced backcountry pilot in a Kit Fox, as well as a few rumored touch-and-goes. The Kit Fox pilot reported no difficulties but that he used soft field techniques for both takeoff and landing. If you elect to use this strip, you do so at your own risk (as, of course, you do with any New Mexico private strip). While the inch of dust is no longer on the surface following our rains, the field is bumpy and uneven in places and a few potholes have shown up. The field will be attended that day, and transport available.

From the Supply Room

Thanks to Advisory Board member Steve Watson, the archivist at Kirtland AFB in Albuquerque, we have a relatively small quantity of a very interesting publication. It is the logbook of Signal Corps No. 1, the original Wright biplane purchased by the Army in 1909. It is edited by Meghan Cunningham, heavily annotated and illustrated. If you drop us a line with your complete address, we will be happy to send one to you free of charge. Also available (but not free) are the following as of this writing:

  • At least one print of Peter Westacott’s “Jennies over Columbus”, signed by the artist;
  • several of the same, unsigned;
  • A small number of Westacott’s “The Promise Fulfilled”, illustrating the first flight;
  • First Aero decals and First Aero patches;
  • First Aero pocket tee shirts (free to fly-ins) in yellow, logo over the pocket and in center of back with lettering: “AERODROME GROUND CREW”

All the above will be available for purchase in front of the American Legion building on October 6th.

About the Columbus Area


Martha’s Place B&B
Lima & Main

Hacienda de Villa Motel
220 S Highway 11


American Legion Monthly All-You-Can Eat Breakfast Buffet
Open to the Public
Saturday Morning 7:30-9:00

La Casita Restaurant
Mexican: breakfast, lunch and dinner
Helberg Street
(575) 531-2371)

Martha’s Place
Full breakfast
Lima and Main
(575) 531-2467

Patio Café
Full breakfast & lunch
23 East Broadway
(575) 531-2495

Pink Store (La Tienda Rosa)
Llunch & dinner
Palomas, Chihuahua, Mexico
Eeasy walking distance (2 blocks) from the border.

Tres Salsas Restaurant
Mexican-American, lunch, dinner.
Closed Saturdays (575) 531-1063
North Boundary Street, a block east of State Highway 11.

Other Near-by Attractions: Several wineries in Deming, Rockhound-Spring Canyon, Pancho Villa,  and City of Rocks State Parks; Columbus Historical Society and Pancho Villa Museums; Temple of the Perfect Man; local airparks; etc.

October 6th Schedule

9:00AM Begin sign-in at Legion Hall
10:30 Welcome to Columbus
11:00 Paul Salopek
12:00 Begin serving lunch
2:00PM Ribbon cutting, Aerodrome
2:10 Parachute team (tentative)
2:30 Informal area tours, hangar talk

Neil Armstrong

Astronaut Neil Armstrong died a few weeks ago. The first to walk on the moon, he was truly an American icon. Armstrong once confided to one of our Advisory Board members, that he knew where Columbus was since he had flown many Navy training missions along the border. He kept track of FASF progress via our Aerodrome newsletter and applauded what we are trying to accomplish. We are proud to have counted him among our friends.

Advisory Board Member Appointed

The FASF Board of Directors is pleased to announce the appointment of Harley Pickett of Lake City, Florida, to the FASF Advisory Board. Harley retired from the FAA in 2000 after a life-long career in aviation. After leaving the Air Force he went to work on DC-3, 4, and 6s for Mackay
Airlines and later on EC121s, Connies, and F-4s. Along the way he picked up his commercial, multi-engine and instrument ratings and worked as an air taxi and charter pilot.

In 1984 Harley joined the Birmingham office of the FAA and until his retirement, held down almost every job there. Little know outside aviation circles, Harley is a gifted amateur auctioneer, going
by the handle, “Mouth of the South.” He has been an early and enthusiastic supporter of our mission and we welcome him to the Advisory Board.

A Message from the FASF President

Dear fellow FASF members & friends,

I hope to see many of you on October 6th. The runway dedication marks a significant milestone in the relatively short history of our organization. Even if you cannot attend, we can always use and much appreciate your help monetarily. We are scheduled to make the 2nd of 3 installment payments on the original note purchasing the airstrip property. Any amount, no matter how small, will help us so we can focus on our next goals including constructing a memorial to the original First Aero Squadron pilots and, eventually, erecting a museum dedicated to pre-World War II airplanes. Thanks for your help!


[The First Aero Squadron Foundation is a non-profit corporation approved for 501 (c) (3) status by the U.S. Internal Revenue Service. Your donations are tax-deductible as permitted by law. The board members and officers of the FASF serve as volunteers and receive no compensation whatsoever for their services]

Late-Breaking News

We are happy to announce that the first batch of our tee shirts have arrived and they are even nicer than we hoped. They are bright gold Hanes Beefy Tee, heavy preshrunk cotton with the logo in front over the pocket and “GROUND CREW” lettered on the back. We have them in M, L, XL, and XXL. By selling them at $25 each plus a couple of bucks shipping (we will offer free shipping on 2 or more), we hope to make enough to help fund the next mortgage payment on the airstrip. Order by phone (575-531-7044) or email ( Order yours today—we will ship them as soon as they arrive!

Leave a Reply