Roswell International Air Center
|Roswell International Air Center|
|IATA: ROW – ICAO: KROW – FAA LID: ROW|
|Airport type||Public company|
|Owner||City of Roswell|
|Serves||Roswell, New Mexico|
|Elevation AMSL||3,671 ft / 1,118.9 m|
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.
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.
The airport covers 5,029 acres (2,035 ha) and has two paved runways:
- 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.
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.
|Calendar Year||Aircraft Operations||%|
Airline and destination
|American Eagle||Dallas/Fort Worth|
Historical airline service
Roswell's first commercial airport was located on the northwest corner of the city and 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. 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. 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. By 1951, Pioneer was no longer serving Roswell and in 1955 Pioneer was acquired by and merged into Continental which in turn would continue to serve Roswell with DC-3 aircraft. Supplemental air service was briefly added by Bison Airlines in 1963/1964. In 1963 Continental phased out the DC-3's and transferred all Roswell service to Trans-Texas Airways (TTa) which in turn quickly upgraded its flights 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. By early 1970 this flight was originating in Los Angeles (LAX) rather than Santa Fe. TTa was then renamed Texas International Airlines which continued to serve Roswell with DC-9s and Convair 600s. Passenger traffic at ROW had increased dramatically with the DC-9 jets and a new, much larger terminal building was constructed in 1975. 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). 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 1979, Texas International was only flying one flight from Roswell to Albuquerque continuing with no change of plane to Dallas/Ft. Worth and Houston operating with a 100-seat DC-9-30. On October 1, 1979 Texas International ceased serving the airport ending the jet service as well as direct flights to DFW and LAX. All service had now been transferred to commuter airlines Air Midwest, Zia Airlines, and Crown Aviation. During the 1970s Roswell also saw service by a few other commuters; Trans Central Airlines in 1970 with flights to Albuquerque, El Paso, Amarillo, and Lubbock, and by a home based airline called Roswell Airlines in 1976 through 1978 going to Albuquerque and El Paso.
Air Midwest was designated as the primary replacement for TI in all of Southeastern New Mexico. Service began on March 1, 1979 with 17-seat Fairchild Swearingen Metroliner propjets on flights to Albuquerque, Lubbock, and later to Midland/Odessa with passengers now having to change planes and airlines in order to travel to larger hub cities such as Dallas/Ft. Worth (DFW). Zia Airlines operating Handley Page Jetstream propjets and Crown Aviation flying Piper Navajo twin prop aircraft were competing with Air Midwest on the route to Albuquerque, now the primary route from Roswell, offering up to thirteen roundtrip flights per day but both of these carriers shut down in 1980. Air Midwest had then become the only airline operating at Roswell and passenger traffic was declining severely. Two other very small commuter airlines also served the Air Center very briefly; Airways of New Mexico provided flights to El Paso in 1983 and 1984 then Territorial Airlines came in 1990 with flights to Santa Fe that continued to Albuquerque. In early 1984 Mesa Airlines began serving Roswell from Albuquerque and Lubbock operating 14-seat Beechcraft 99 turboprops in competition with Air Midwest and passenger traffic nearly doubled that year. By 1985 the two carriers were operating a combined total of up to eleven roundtrip nonstop flights a day to Albuquerque. Air Midwest ended their Roswell service in early 1986 and for four months in 1987 a feeder carrier for Continental Airlines, Trans Colorado Airlines, served Roswell as Continental Express. Flights were operated with Swearingen Metros to Albuquerque and El Paso via Carlsbad re-establishing some of the routes that Continental had operated 40 years prior. During this time, Mesa added more flights to Albuquerque giving the route 20 daily departures each way. In the fall of 1987, Mesa added two daily nonstop flights to DFW operated with 13-seat Beechcraft 1300 and later upgrading to 19-seat Beechcraft 1900D turboprops. All flights to Albuquerque were also progressively upgraded to Beech 1900D's. For a brief period in 1990, a small commuter named Territorial Airlines came to Roswell with a single flight to Santa Fe that continued to Albuquerque. In 1995 Mesa dropped their DFW flights and later that year Lone Star Airlines came to Roswell with two flights to DFW operating Swearingen Metros. At one point in Nov., 1995 Lone Star operated a 32-seat Dornier 328 propjet. Mesa returned to the Roswell - DFW market in 1997 and, between Mesa and Lone Star, a total of six daily flights were operated on the route. Lone Star later changed their name to Aspen Mountain Air but ended their Roswell service in 1998. Another commuter, Big Sky Airlines, briefly came to the airport in 2000/2001 operating one daily roundtrip on a DFW - Hobbs - Carlsbad - Roswell - Denver route giving Roswell its first nonstop service to Denver. This carrier also used Swearingen Metro aircraft. Mesa again ended their DFW flights shortly after the events of 9/11/2001 and was only providing flights to Albuquerque. Over the next few years passenger traffic declined severely and the city actively pursed service with major airlines to provide nonstop regional jet flights from Roswell to a major hub. American Eagle, the feeder carrier for American Airlines responded and began service on Sep. 5, 2007 with two daily flights to Dallas/Ft. Worth using 50-seat Embraer 145 regional jets. The service did so well that a third flight was added seven months later. Mesa Airlines then ended all of their Roswell service on the last day of 2007 which left no flights to Albuquerque. At the request of Roswell city officials, American Eagle began a westbound flight to Los Angeles in August, 2009 but this flight did not become profitable and ended after one year. American Airlines and US Airways are now in the process of a merger and the city of Roswell has been negotiating with American Eagle to begin nonstop service to Phoenix which is a major hub for US Airways.
Current airline service
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.
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.
- FAA Airport Master Record for ROW ( PDF), effective 2007-12-20
- "ASN Aircraft accident Gulfstream G650 N652GD Roswell International Air Center Airport, NM (ROW)". aviation-safety.net. Retrieved April 4, 2011.
- Watch Felix Baumgartner's Record-Setting Jump From 120,000 Feet Live Popular Science, 2012-10-14.
- "Air Traffic Activity System". Retrieved October 29, 2014.
- http://www.timetableimages.com, May 1, 1944 Continental Air Lines system timetable
- http://www.timetableimages.com, May 1, 1948 Continental Air Lines system timetable
- http://www.timetableimages.com, Oct. 12, 1948 Pioneer Airlines system timetable
- http://www.timetableimages.com, Feb. 1, 1951 Pioneer Airlines system timetable
- http://www.timetableimages.com, July 1, 1963 & Aug. 29, 1964 Continental Airlines system timetables
- http://www/timetableimages.com, August 1968 Trans-Texas Airways system timetable
- Feb.1, 1976 Official Airline Guide (OAG), Roswell schedules
- http://www.departedflights.com, August 1, 1979 Texas International system timetable
- http://www.departedflights.com, Nov. 15, 1979 Official Airline Guide (OAG), Albuquerque-Roswell schedules
- http://www.departedflights.com, April 1, 1981 Official Airline Guide (OAG), Albuquerque-Roswell schedules
- http://www.departedflights.com, Feb. 15, 1985 Official Airline Guide (OAG), Albuquerque-Roswell schedules
- http://www.departedflights.com, Oct. 1, 1991 Official Airline Guide (OAG), Albuquerque-Roswell & Dallas/Ft. Worth-Roswell schedules
- Various timetables by all the airlines that have served Roswell
Numerous timetables from American Airlines, Continental Airlines, Mesa Airlines, Air Midwest, Lone Star Airlines, and Big Sky Airlines
- Visit the official Walker Air Force Base Museum website.
- Roswell International Air Center at City of Roswell web site
- Historical record of stratospheric balloons launched there at StratoCat web site
- (PDF), effective July 23, 2015
- Resources for this airport: