Roswell International Air Center

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For the military use of this facility prior to 1967, see Walker Air Force Base.
Roswell International Air Center
Airport type Public company
Owner City of Roswell
Serves Roswell, New Mexico
Elevation AMSL 3,671 ft / 1,118.9 m
Coordinates 33°18′5.6″N 104°31′50″W / 33.301556°N 104.53056°W / 33.301556; -104.53056Coordinates: 33°18′5.6″N 104°31′50″W / 33.301556°N 104.53056°W / 33.301556; -104.53056
Website Official Website
ROW is located in New Mexico
Location in New Mexico
Direction Length Surface
ft m
3/21 13,001 3,963 Asphalt/Concrete
17/35 9,999 3,048 Asphalt
Statistics (2007)
Aircraft operations 43,990
Based aircraft 46

Roswell International Air Center (RIAC) (IATA: ROWICAO: KROWFAA LID: ROW) (Roswell Industrial Air Center) is an airport seven miles (11 km) south of Roswell, in Chaves County, New Mexico.[1]


The airport was Roswell Army International Airfield during World War II, and Walker Air Force Base during the Cold War. When it closed it was the largest base of the United States Air Force Strategic Air Command. Roswell International Air Center was developed after the closure of Walker Air Force Base on June 30, 1967.

Walker AFB was named after General Kenneth Newton Walker, a native of Los Cerrillos, New Mexico. He was killed during a bombing mission over Rabaul, New Britain, Papua, New Guinea. on January 5, 1943. Though intercepted by enemy fighters, his group scored direct hits on nine Japanese ships. General Walker was last seen leaving the target area with one engine on fire and several fighters on his tail. For his actions, General Walker was awarded the Medal of Honor posthumously by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1943.

The base was renamed in his honor on January 13, 1948. Walker Hall, at Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama, home of the College of Aerospace Doctrine Research and Education, is also named after the general.

In 1966 the Air Force announced that Walker AFB would close. This was during a round of base closings and consolidations as the Defense Department struggled to pay the expenses of the Vietnam War within the budgetary limits set by Congress.

It is also known for the Roswell UFO incident, an event that allegedly occurred on July 4, 1947. It is alleged that a "flying disk" crashed during a severe thunderstorm near RIAC at Corona, New Mexico.

The site was used for several years to launch stratospheric balloons for Air Force projects.

The airfield also serves as a storage facility for a number of retired Airbus A300-600R wide body jetliners formerly operated by American Airlines.[2]

On April 2, 2011, a new Gulfstream G650 crashed shortly after takeoff from the airport during a test flight that was being conducted by the manufacturer of this large, twin engine business jet, killing all four aboard.[3]

The airport was used by Felix Baumgartner to launch his record-breaking freefall jump from the stratosphere on October 14, 2012.[4]


The airport covers 5,029 acres (2,035 ha) and has two paved runways:[1]

  • 3/21: 13,001 × 150 ft. (3,963 × 46 m) asphalt/concrete
  • 17/35: 9,999 × 100 ft. (3,048 × 30 m) asphalt

In 2013 the airport had 53,030 aircraft operations, average 145 per day: 17% general aviation, 71% military, 11% air taxi and <1% airline. 34 aircraft were then based at this airport: 76% single-engine, 15% multi-engine, and 8% jet.[1]

Below are annual total aircraft operations 2009–2013 from the FAA's Air Traffic Activity System. Average yearly increase was 5.11% over the last 5 years.[5]

Aircraft Operations: ROW 2009–2013[5]
Calendar Year Aircraft Operations  %
2009 48,726
2010 51,958 6.63%
2011 35,673 −31.34%
2012 34,671 −2.81%
2013 53,075 53.08%

Airline and destination[edit]

Airlines Destinations
American Eagle Dallas/Fort Worth

Historical airline service[edit]

Roswell's first commercial airport was located on the northwest corner of the city. The first air carrier to serve Roswell was Continental Airlines. In 1944, Continental was operating Lockheed Model 18 Lodestar twin prop aircraft on a daily round trip routing of Denver - Colorado Springs - Pueblo - Las Vegas, NM - Santa Fe - Albuquerque - Roswell - Hobbs - Midland/Odessa - Big Spring,TX - San Angelo - San Antonio.[6] By 1948, Continental was operating 21-seat Douglas DC-3 aircraft on a daily round trip routing of Denver - Colorado Springs - Pueblo - Las Vegas, NM - Santa Fe - Albuquerque - Roswell - Hobbs - Carlsbad - El Paso and also on a daily round trip routing of Albuquerque - Roswell - Hobbs - Lubbock - Wichita Falls - Lawton, OK - Oklahoma City - Tulsa.[7] Also in 1948, Pioneer Airlines was operating DC-3 flights with twice daily round trip service on a routing of El Paso - Las Cruces - Roswell - Clovis - Amarillo.[8] By 1951, Pioneer was no longer serving Roswell[9] and in 1955 Pioneer was acquired and merged into Continental which in turn would continue to serve Roswell with DC-3 aircraft until the early 1960s.[10] [11]

In 1963 Continental transferred all Roswell service over to Trans-Texas Airways (TTa) which in turn quickly upgraded its Roswell service with 50-seat Convair 600 turboprops. In 1968, the city closed their municipal airport and transferred airline operations to the former Walker Air Force Base. TTa again upgraded their service and in the summer of 1968 was operating 75-seat Douglas DC-9-10 jets on a routing of Santa Fe (SAF) - Albuquerque (ABQ) - Roswell (ROW) - Midland/Odessa (MAF) - Dallas Love Field (DAL) - Houston Hobby Airport (HOU) which was Roswell's first jet service.[12] TTa was then renamed Texas International Airlines which continued to serve Roswell with DC-9s and Convair 600s. According to the Official Airline Guide (OAG), in early 1976 Texas International was operating DC-9 jet service from the airport nonstop to Albuquerque (ABQ), El Paso (ELP) and Midland/Odessa (MAF) and was also flying direct, no change of plane DC-9 service to Dallas/Ft. Worth (DFW), Houston (IAH), Los Angeles (LAX), Beaumont, TX (BPT) and Lafayette, LA (LFT).[13] Beside DC-9 flights from Albuquerque, Dallas/Ft. Worth, Houston, Los Angeles, El Paso and Midland/Odessa, this same OAG also lists inbound DC-9 service to Roswell direct from Baton Rouge (BTR), Corpus Christi (CRP) and McAllen, TX (MFE) in addition to Convair 600 propjet service to and from Albuquerque (ABQ), Brownwood, TX (BWD), Carlsbad, NM (CNM), Dallas/Ft. Worth (DFW) and Hobbs, NM (HOB). By the spring of 1978, Texas International was only flying one route from Roswell with nonstop service twice a day to Albuquerque with one of these flights operating continuing, no change of plane DC-9 jet service to Dallas/Ft. Worth, Houston and Corpus Christi.[14] In October 1, 1979 Texas International transferred its Roswell service to Air Midwest, a commuter airline, and ceased serving the airport.

Air Midwest served Roswell with 19-seat Fairchild Swearingen Metroliner propjets with flights to Albuquerque, Lubbock, and Midland/Odessa with passengers now having to change planes to flights operated by larger airlines at these cities in order to travel to larger hub cities such as Dallas/Ft. Worth (DFW). In the fall of 1979, the primary route operated from Roswell was nonstop service to Albuquerque with two other commuter airlines competing with Air Midwest: Zia Airlines operating Handley Page Jetstream propjets and Crown Aviation flying Piper Navajo twin prop aircraft.[15] According to the Official Airline Guide, (OAG), the three commuter airlines were operating a combined total of up to thirteen round trip nonstop flights a day between Albuquerque and Roswell at this time. By the spring of 1981, Air Midwest had become the only airline operating nonstop service to Albuquerque.[16] Mesa Airlines began serving Roswell in 1984. In early 1985, Mesa was operating Beechcraft 99 turboprops in competition with Air Midwest on the Roswell-Albuquerque route with both air carriers operating a combined total of up to eleven roundtrip nonstop flights a day.[17] Air Midwest subsequently ended all service into the airport. In 1987, Mesa added nonstop flights to Dallas/Ft. Worth (DFW) operated with Beechcraft 1900C turboprops and in the fall of 1991 was operating two round trip flights a day on the Roswell-DFW route in addition to flying up to seven round trip nonstop flights a day between Albuquerque and Roswell, also operated with the Beechcraft 1900C.[18] Mesa continued to serve Roswell until the arrival of American Eagle in late 2007. Mesa was operating as an independent air carrier with no major airline code share agreement in place for its Roswell-Dallas/Ft. Worth service and was thus not able to compete with American Eagle's 50-seat Embraer regional jet service operated on behalf of American Airlines. Mesa subsequently ended service between Albuquerque and the airport as well.

Roswell was also briefly served in 1987 by Trans-Colorado Airlines operating as Continental Express with flights to Albuquerque and El Paso utilizing Fairchild Swearingen Metroliner propjets. Lone Star Airlines served Roswell from 1995 through 1997 with flights to DFW and El Paso with Metroliners as well. Big Sky Airlines came to Roswell in 2000/2001 with flights to DFW and Denver, also flown with Metroliners. In addition, American Eagle operated a nonstop flight to Los Angeles in 2009/2010. Meantime, the city of Roswell has been negotiating with American Eagle to begin nonstop service to Phoenix (which is a hub for US Airways) in light of the merger of US Airways and American Airlines.

Current airline service[edit]

American Eagle currently operates 50-seat Embraer ERJ-145 regional jets nonstop to Dallas/Ft. Worth as a code sharing feeder service for American Airlines. In 2008, the regional carrier occasionally operated larger 70-seat Canadair CRJ-700 regional jets on the route to DFW.

Other uses[edit]

RIAC is home to a plastic manufacturer; Novabus Inc. has a bus factory there; a candy manufacturer and the Roswell Municipal Airport. Eastern New Mexico University has a campus there, and aircraft repair and refurbishing companies including AerSale have airliners stored onsite.

RIAC is the home of the New Mexico Rehabilitation Center.

In 2002 a series of charter flights operated by Trans World Airlines (TWA) with Boeing 767-300 aircraft were flown into Roswell in order to transport trainees for the Federal Air Marshal service . This training was conducted at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in nearby Artesia, New Mexico.

The Boeing Company uses the airfield for braking performance testing of its aircraft, most recently the testing of BF Goodrich carbon brakes on the Boeing 737-900ER model. Brake testing has also been performed on the Boeing 787 Dreamliner at the airport.

A New Mexico National Guard unit uses several buildings on the airport grounds.


  1. ^ a b c d FAA Airport Master Record for ROW (Form 5010 PDF), effective 2007-12-20
  2. ^
  3. ^ "ASN Aircraft accident Gulfstream G650 N652GD Roswell International Air Center Airport, NM (ROW)". Retrieved April 4, 2011. 
  4. ^ Watch Felix Baumgartner's Record-Setting Jump From 120,000 Feet Live Popular Science, 2012-10-14.
  5. ^ a b "Air Traffic Activity System". Retrieved October 29, 2014. 
  6. ^, May 1, 1944 Continental Air Lines system timetable
  7. ^, May 1, 1948 Continental Air Lines system timetable
  8. ^, Oct. 12, 1948 Pioneer Airlines system timetable
  9. ^, Feb. 1, 1951 Pioneer Airlines system timetable
  10. ^
  11. ^, July 1, 1963 & Aug. 29, 1964 Continental Airlines system timetables
  12. ^ http:www/, August 1968 Trans-Texas Airways system timetable
  13. ^ Feb.1, 1976 Official Airline Guide (OAG), Roswell schedules
  14. ^, March 15, 1978 Texas International system timetable
  15. ^, Nov. 15, 1979 Official Airline Guide (OAG), Albuquerque-Roswell schedules
  16. ^, April 1, 1981 Official Airline Guide (OAG), Albuquerque-Roswell schedules
  17. ^, Feb. 15, 1985 Official Airline Guide (OAG), Albuquerque-Roswell schedules
  18. ^, Oct. 1, 1991 Official Airline Guide (OAG), Albuquerque-Roswell & Dallas/Ft. Worth-Roswell schedules

External links[edit]