Visitors to the Fly-In are able to get an up-close look at Civil Air Patrol’s search and rescue aircraft.
File Photo

It started with a germ of an idea.

“This airport would be a great place to have a fly-in,” Laura Haines said in a 2008 interview. That was the beginning of the M Mountain Fly-In, an annual event at Socorro Municipal Airport. The Fly-In, now in its 13th year, was renamed the Capt. Laura S. Haines M Mountain Fly-In in 2014. Haines died in October of that year.

Lt. Col Dave Finley of the Civil Air Patrol has been a part of the Fly-In since its beginning; organizing and overseeing the event and that the dedication of the M Mountain Fly-In to Haines was fitting. To the community of Socorro for over a decade, Haines brought her knowledge in aviation, extensive contacts and skills in administration and leadership to play a key role in the Socorro Municipal Airport.

She had achieved the rank of Captain flying 747 jumbo jets and logged more than 11,000 hours of flying time total.

“She literally had flown all over the world, including carrying supplies to our troops in the Mideast after the attack on the Twin Towers in 2001,” Finley said. “In Socorro, Haines contributed not only her knowledge of aviation but also her contacts and skills in administration to play an important role at the airport.”

He said visitors to the Fly-in this Saturday will be able to check out a variety of aircraft on display and speak with the pilots.

Skydivers are a crowd-pleaser at the Fly-In.
File photo

“Homebuilts, experimentals, warbirds, vintage classics, and many others from around the Southwest,” Finley said. “There will be demonstrations and exhibits for all ages, parachutists, and information about airplanes, becoming a pilot, and aviation careers.”

Hours of the Fly-In are 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.

“We’ll have skydivers doing their colorful jump at eight o’clock, so you’ll want to get there early,” Finley said. “They’ll be bringing in the American flag down to the field at that first jump while the national anthem is played. It’s always a nice ceremony. They usually do a couple more jumps through the morning, but there’s no set time for those.”

Another crowd favorite, the New Mexico Chile Flight formation will do precision low passes over the field. “They also taxi in formation,” he said. “It’s a show for the whole family.”

“People can look over the various types of aircraft and talk to the pilots,” Finley said. “We’ll have a Civil Air Patrol aircraft that is used for Search and Rescue. We have specialized equipment that we put on these aircraft for search and rescue and we’ll be able to demonstrate that. If you go out and get lost somewhere we’ll know how to find you.”

Socorro’s airport history goes back over eight decades:

  • A “Socorro Muni” with four dirt runways was listed by the FAA in 1931. This field was 2.5 miles north of town, not the current location.
  • By 1934, Socorro Municipal was listed in the current location south of town, with two dirt runways.
  • In 1941, the designation changed to “Socorro CAA 16.” Both the 1941 listing and one for 1938 show three dirt runways. Listings for 1943 and 1944 show “Socorro (Aux)#4” at the current location, with two “hard” runways. The designation changed back to “Socorro Municipal” in 1945 with the end of World War II.
  • On May 19, 1938, pioneering female pilot Harriet Davidson, who had taken her flying lessons from Bill Cutter in Albuquerque, flew the first bag of airmail from Albuquerque to Socorro. This reportedly was a big event in town, with schools being dismissed and a large crowd gathering to see the plane.
  • Local residents recount seeing USAAF B-24s practicing touch-and-goes at Socorro’s airport during WWII.
  • Sometime during the 1960s, two B-36s, the giant bombers with six piston engines and four jet engines, reportedly landed at Socorro Municipal, en route to the NM Tech boneyard. According to local residents, the wings were cut off these planes and the fuselages towed through town to NM Tech. These would be the largest planes ever to land at Socorro.

The Laura S. Haines M Mountain Fly-In is “free and kid-friendly,” Finley said.

Hours are 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. and breakfast burritos will be sold on-site.

“Join us for a day of aviation fun and excitement for all ages,” he said. “And check out all the improvements we’ve made to our airport.”