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Courtesy photo

A plane waits to depart at Angel Fire Airport.

Colfax County-owned Angel Fire Airport is undergoing major renovations to its buildings and runway, with a projected cost of more than $680,000.

The project includes resurfacing the runway, building six new box hangars and a new floor and paint job for the terminal interior.

"A lot of stuff going on here at this little airport, that's not seen much action in the past while," said Fraser MacPhee, 62, the airport manager and a pilot of more than 30 years.

The public-use airport began the renovations March 21, and expects them to be completed on or around April 15. The project schedule was designed to take advantage of the start of the slow season, as the ski tourism industry winds down.

The Angel Fire Airport is located more than 1 mile north of the town's business center, and covers an area of 220 acres. At an elevation of 8,380 feet, it's the highest airport in the state of New Mexico and the fourth highest in the U.S.

The one runway runs north-south, and is 8,900 feet long and 100 feet wide.

"We range anywhere from 110 to 150 aircraft operations per month," said MacPhee. "One operation is a landing and another one would be a takeoff."

Most of the air traffic at the airport comes from Texas -- Houston, Austin, San Antonio and Dallas/Fort Worth -- bringing skiers and golfers to their second homes in Angel Fire.

In addition to public use, with both propeller and jet planes, the airport serves military aircraft practicing takeoffs and landings.

"Because we are at this elevation, it's beneficial for them to practice at this airport, so that they get used to these higher-altitude operations that they might encounter in places like Afghanistan," said MacPhee.

"In fact, we had a C-130 in here from an Air Force base in Georgia just a couple of weeks ago, because they have to do three high-altitude airport operational practice sorties each year," he said. "The other two were in Colorado, but they chose Angel Fire to do three full-stop landings and takeoffs so they could certify their crews for high-mountain operations in foreign countries."

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