Damage Caused By Visiting Presidential Aircraft
responsibility (and swallowing just a tiny bit of crow) for
damaging a runway at the Las Cruces airport during a presidential
visit last year, the Air Force has offered to pay the airport
$623,000 for repairs -- which is much less than the $2.1 million
that airport authorities had asked for.
The incident in question, as was reported
extensively by ANN last year, all started when President Bush
visited Las Cruces last August during his reelection
campaign. At least two of the president's support
aircraft, one C-32 (the military version of the B757) and a C-17
heavy-lift cargo plane, caused deep, half-mile long ruts in the
soft asphalt surface of runway 4/22, upon landing on the longest
runway of three at LRU.
To add insult to injury, airport officials maintain that they
had told the Air Force several times in advance of the trip not to
land the heavy aircraft there, as such an event was likely to
While the city could not prevent the Air Force from landing
there, it is still not clear why crews onboard those aircraft would
want to land on that runway in the first place, as the soft surface
could have caused significant damage to their aircraft, too.
Runway 4/22 has been closed to aircraft carrying more than 30
passengers since the incident. Smaller aircraft are strongly
discouraged from utilizing on it, as well. On a popular airport
website, the surface of 4/22 is described as "rutted and wavy."
According to Las Cruces Public Works Director Robert Garza, the
settlement will not be presented to the city council until next
month. No word yet on if the offer will be accepted... or if
President Bush will be invited back to Las Cruces any time
Some visitors who will be welcome at the airport are
participants and spectators for the first annual Ansari X Prize
Cup, scheduled to be held at the airport October 9th.