IF YOU GO

What: Aztec City Commission meeting


When: 6 p.m. Tuesday. Meetings are typically on the second and fourth Tuesday of each month.


Where: City Hall, 201 W. Chaco St. Aztec

AZTEC mdash; When Aztec City Commissioners assemble Tuesday, they will address management of the city's airport.

Operations at the Aztec Municipal Airport fell into question after the death of the former airport manager, Mike Arnold Sr.

Arnold, a past Aztec mayor, was killed in May when his single-engine plane crashed at the Aztec airport. He was pronounced dead at the scene. He was 62.

Since then, his wife, Pat Arnold, and son, Mike Arnold Jr., have continued day-to-day operations at the airport.

The city has attempted to find a permanent replacement, but suitable candidates have yet to be found. Until one is found, the Arnold family will continue to oversee the airport.

"(The family) would like to maintain the airport for one more year, and then they do not want to manage it any longer," said Aztec City Manager Josh Ray. "The city will have to find a long-term manager after that. We will work through the year to see who is interested (in filling the position)."

The management lease expires on Sept. 20. An extension of the management contract with the Arnolds will be voted on at Tuesday's commission meeting. An extension would give the city until September 2014 to fill the management position.

"The lease was up for renewal anyways," said Mike Arnold Jr. "My mom is going to be the lessee, and I'm going to help in an assistant manager capacity."

Mike Arnold Sr.
Mike Arnold Sr. (The Daily Times file photo)

Mike Arnold Jr., a former commercial pilot, insisted operations at the airport are going on as normal. In spring 2014, he said there will be an asphalt overlay project to improve ground conditions for aircraft.

He said he still uses the airport and takes out one of his father's prized planes, a Cesna.

"It's still flying," he said of the plane. "Things are rolling along."

The National Transportation Safety Board is still investigating the crash that killed Mike Arnold Sr.

A preliminary report found that his Peck Norman O Peck P-1 single-engine airplane was destroyed after it hit the ground during takeoff on May 18.

The charred skeleton of a single-engine plane is seen at the scene of a fatal plane crash at the Aztec Municipal Airport on May 18.
The charred skeleton of a single-engine plane is seen at the scene of a fatal plane crash at the Aztec Municipal Airport on May 18. (The Daily Times file photo)

According to the report, Mike Arnold Sr. purchased the plane about six months before the accident. Investigators spoke to a person who told them Mike Arnold Sr. had complained several days before the crash that fuel had been pooling onto the floor of the cockpit.

A witness to the crash stated that just after the plane became airborne, it "impacted a berm on the right side of the runway, spun 180 degrees and caught fire," according to the report.

The report found that weather was not a factor, and no flight plan was filed.

The preliminary report is the first in a series of reports the NTSB releases following an aviation accidents. The factual and final reports on Mike Arnold Sr.'s crash have yet to be released.

James Fenton covers Aztec and Bloomfield for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4621 and jfenton@daily-times.com. Follow him @fentondt on Twitter.