September 26, 2012

Gov. Susana Martinez has declared September 2012 “New Mexico General Aviation Appreciation Month.” The proclamation was the second such official recognition of the value of all general aviation (GA), including business aviation, in the Land of Enchantment; a similar proclamation was issued in 2010 by then-Gov. Bill Richardson.

“Aviation in New Mexico supports 48,975 jobs and generates $1.3 billion in payroll annually, and is responsible for [pumping] $3.1 billion into the economy,” Martinez said in her proclamation. She also noted that the 59 public-use airports in the state are home to three air tanker bases that provide crucial firefighting resources not only for New Mexico, but also for neighboring states.

Tourists to New Mexico arriving by GA are responsible for more than $61 million of economic benefit annually to the state, Martinez said, adding that “GA and community airports play a critical role in the lives and safety of our citizens, as well as in the operation of our businesses, ranches and farms.”

Review the New Mexico proclamation. (1.25 MB PDF)

Although New Mexico’s land area of more than 121,000 square miles makes it the fifth-largest state in the U.S., only a few have regularly scheduled major airline service. Martinez points out in her proclamation that communities surrounding most of the state’s 59 public airports depend on GA aircraft for mobility, access to medical treatment, economic opportunity, disaster relief, search and rescue, and a wide range of critical resources.

“Those who haven’t driven highways from one place in New Mexico to the other may not appreciate the vast distances that separate centers of population in the state,” said Stacy Howard, NBAA western region representative. “Businesses rely on GA aircraft to access their customers and prospective customers quickly and efficiently. It provides them with a competitive edge.” A recent economic study done for the New Mexico Department of Transportation showed that nearly one-third of business owners or managers who responded to the survey said they depend on customers or suppliers who use the state’s community airports.

“Gov. Martinez understands the importance of business aviation in New Mexico, and we thank her for issuing this proclamation,“ said NBAA President and CEO Ed Bolen.

A host of aviation-related activities will commemorate both the state’s 100th anniversary this year and Aviation Appreciation Month, including the centennial New Mexico Air Tour from Sept. 28 to 30, which will stop at community airports near seven historic sites around the state, including Grants, Santa Fe, Tucumcari, Roswell, Carlsbad, Santa Teresa and Socorro.

Southern New Mexico was the site of the first use of GA aircraft in military tactical use, when Brigadier General John J. Pershing organized an aerial expedition against Mexico revolutionary Pancho Villa, who on March 9, 1916, had raided Columbus, NM, near the border with Mexico, killing 17 Americans. Pershing’s fleet of World War I surplus Curtiss JN3 airplanes, called Jennies, pursued Villa in the rugged terrain of northern Mexico.

The state also honors the legacy of Bill Cutter, founder of the admired Cutter Aviation FBO chain and the first pilot to fly an air ambulance flight in the state in 1928. Today, Spaceport America in the desert of White Sands in the southern part of the state is the world’s first purpose-built, commercial spaceport with the needs of commercial space business in mind.

New Mexico is one of 45 states that have formally recognized the value of aviation. Learn more about other regional aviation proclamations.