First Fly-in For New Mexico Spaceport


image: KRQE

Spaceport America, which was built in a remote area in New Mexico to provide a site for Virgin Galactic’s space-tourism flights, hosted its first-ever general aviation fly-in over the weekend, and announced it will begin to offer more opportunities for private pilots to fly in for visits. Holding the fly-in event was prompted by a “growing number of requests” from pilots to visit the spaceport, according to the company’s website. “This fly-in is the first in a series of events that will be taking place in the coming weeks and months leading to a new, exciting Spaceport America Visitor Experience, designed to delight visitors as well as to expand and grow the spaceport’s tourism business,” said Christine Anderson, the spaceport’s executive director.

Only 10 pilots were allowed to sign up for the inaugural fly-in, and each paid a fee of $500 for the privilege. They were allowed to bring as many passengers as they wanted, and a total of 24 people took the tour. Virgin Galactic had been expected to start tourist flights from the site this year, but that has been delayed about a year, Anderson said, due to last year’s fatal accident. The spaceport will continue to be operated as a “prior permission required” airport, according to the facility’s website. Private visitors also are not allowed to drive onto the site, but bus tours are operated from Truth or Consequences, about 30 miles away. Other tenants at the site are SpaceX, which has a launch/landing pad there, and UP Aerospace.