Officials of the First Aero Squadron Foundation (FASF) announced the schedule for the Saturday's dedication of Runway 8/26 at what once was the Columbus Municipal Airport at the southeast edge of town, 30 miles south of Deming, New Mexico.

The landing strip was closed during the mid-1970's after 70 years of operation, dating back to the First Aero Squadron's use under US General John "Black Jack" Pershing in 1916 during the Punitive Expedition that was triggered by Mexican Revolutionary General Francisco "Pancho" Villa following his raid on Columbus.

Also known as ColAir, the field was home to the notorious "Columbus Air Force," a group of narcotics smugglers which was broken up by Federal Law enforcement. Many of the world's greatest names in aviation history, including, Amelia Earhart, landed there over the years.

Transportation will be furnished for fly-in celebrants, who are advised to radio in on the 122.9 Unicom frequency just prior to landing for both air traffic and transportation to the village. The nearest paved runway is 3.4 miles north of Columbus.

The official opening will coincide with the annual village celebration of Columbus Day, and will begin with breakfast served by American Legion Post 1917 from 7-9 a.m. FASF members can register at the Legion Hall beginning at 9 a.m.

Fly-in visitors will be awarded a FASF pocket t-shirt and a free lunch.

On hand to welcome attendees at 10:30 a.m.


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will be village officials, staff from US Congressman Steve Pearce's office, and FASF Officers.

At 11 a.m., writer Paul Salopek will provide a program describing his next project, "A Walk Around the World." Salopek is a two-time Pulitzer Prize winning writer for the Chicago Tribune and National Geographic Magazine.

"We are really honored and gratified that Paul has taken time from his busy schedule to talk to us," said FASF President Bill Wehner.

Lunch will be served by the Foundation at the Legion for $7 each, from about noon until 1:30 p.m. The actual ribbon cutting will take place at 2 p.m at the airfield.

Wielding the scissors will be Jeanne Plant, the daughter of aviation icon Jim Greenwood who passed away in 2011. The formation of the First Aero Squadron Foundation was spurred by Greenwood, aviation historian and author, former LearJet Corporate executive and assistant FAA Administrator.

The FASF was organized for the specific purpose of re-building the old U. S. Army Airfield to commemorate the early intrepid U.S. Airmen who piloted our nation's first rickety Jennie airplanes in pursuit of General Pancho Villa, who had raided the sleepy little town on the border on March 9, 1916 in the darkness of night. This first U.S. military aviation activity caused Columbus to go down in the history books as the "Birthplace of American Air Power."

For more information contact President Bill Wehner at 575-531-7044 or 314-780-3802, or Ric Lambart, at 505-349-5588.