Guin Field, Magdalena Municipal Airport on Highway 60, three miles west of town.
John Larson | El Defensor Chieftain

The airport at Magdalena has been awarded a funding grant from the Aviation Division of the New Mexico Department of Transportation. Mayor Richard Rumpf made the announcement at last week’s Village Board of Trustees meeting.

“They are going to grant us $698,200 for general upgrades and improvements to the airport,” Rumpf said. “This something I’ve been working on for a while. We get people flying in and out regularly.”

While nowhere nearly as busy as Albuquerque’s Double Eagle or even Socorro’s airport, Magdalena’s Municipal airport, dubbed Guin Field for former airport manager Ambers Guin, typically sees an average of 45 aircraft operations on any given week, most notably during hunting season.

Rumpf said a good portion of the money would be used for chip-sealing the access road from Highway 60 and a proper helipad.

“The permanent helipad will be 60 by 90 feet, located at the very north end of the runway, and there’ll be a chip-seal road directly to it for ambulances,” he said. “This will serve emergency flights for not only Magdalena but all rural communities west for air ambulances of PHI Medical and UNM Hospital.”

He said that U.S. Forest Service tanker firefighting helicopters have also used Magdalena’s airport to replenish water tanks during large wildland fires.

The funding will also pay for the removal of all the trees in the back area where future hangars could be built. Five aircraft and an improved pilot’s lounge are currently based at the airport.

In addition, Rumpf said weed control around the gravel/dirt runway would be maintained by the purchase of a side-by-side ATV under the grant award.

Also, the Board accepted an additional grant related to the airport project.

“This is a grant from the New Mexico DOT to cover the engineering fees for the project,” Rumpf told the trustees. “This grant of $86,307 is for engineering. The Village is responsible for about one percent in matching funds, so our out-of-pocket will be $871.92. It’s a pretty good deal.”

Magdalena’s original airport, running parallel to Highway 60 on the east side of town, was established in the early 1940s. It was relocated in 1983 to its present location three miles west of town and lengthened to 5,650 feet.

“We grade the runway at least twice a year and mow regularly,” Rumpf said in a previous interview. “An independent contractor from the FAA came through and inspected the airport. He told me it’s one of the best rural airports in this part of the state he’s seen.”

Rumpf also serves as the airport manager.

In other businessMagdal, the Village Board passed a motion to spend $6,320.82 to repair a rip in the lower lagoon liner. Magdalena’s wastewater treatment system involves five lagoons.

“The wind tore one of the liners on the lower pond. The lagoon is fairly large and covers a lot of area,” Rumpf said. “It would have been okay except the wind caught it and ripped a 25-30 foot tear in it. It’s at the point where it’s close to the water. If the water level gets up there, and if it leaks, we’re in big trouble.”

The original lagoon system dates back to 1965. Due to compliance issues, the system had to be redone, with a series of renovations and replacements beginning in 2000.

“This lower one was added in 2010,” Rumpf said.