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VIDEO / Wally Funk, an 82-year-old pilot who grew up in Taos, became the oldest person in history to go to space this morning (July 20) after Blue Origin’s rocket, New Shepard, completed its first manned flight successfully.

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On July 20, 1969, I photographed the huge party in Central Park (NYC) for the first moon landing and sold the pix to one of the local papers.

That was thrilling to that 22-year-old, and this achievement excited this 74-year-old out of a lethargy.

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The Taos Regional Airport is one of Taos' best-kept secrets. On any given Saturday morning when the weather warms up, the hangar doors are flung open and pilots gather. Airplanes, gliders and flying trikes roll out. Aviation conversation flows.

With rags in hand, some people are spiffing up their aircraft for a few touch-and-go landings against the backdrop of the Taos Mountain and a sea of sagebrush. In the evening, a pack of coyotes trots around on the runway, and a night owl perched on the fence line keeps watch.

On another Saturday in May, another kind of flight is happening at the airport. Kathleen Martin and her troupe from The Academy of Performing Arts will create their stage and produce their magic in "My Pointe of View" at the Taos Regional Airport - which will be filmed.

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These seven words in the April 22-28 Taos News editorial threw me into a downward spiral from which I still haven't recovered: "the airport expansion IS going to happen."

Democracy is under assault at every level of government across the globe; we all know that a free press is one of the most powerful ways to shine light on issues that otherwise get decided behind closed doors. Here in Taos, though, it appears that the will of the people doesn't matter to the Taos News editors. How else could the airport expansion debate be declared as over? Even though the public is just beginning to get opportunities to weigh in on it? This editorial smacks of paternalism; evidently, residents are just too dumb to have life experiences and points of views that are worth considering - we simpletons just don't understand that "indirect" benefits are the best we can hope for.

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As the town of Taos' airport plans move forward, it's important to remember this is a complex issue packed with nuance. One side of the issue believes funding for the airport is an unnecessary expenditure. The other side believes an improved airport is vital to a healthy economy.

Who's right? The answer, unfortunately, is both.

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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.

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Two people are confirmed dead after a fatal car wreck near Pilar. Multiple agencies responded Saturday afternoon (April 3) to a report of a three vehicle crash in Pilar on State Road 68 near a section of the road known as the “horseshoe”. Traffic was halted for over an hour and drivers were told to seek alternative routes.

This is a developing story, please check back for more details.

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There is much to consider with expanding the airport. It is one of those issues that has a lot of merit regarding the health of our economy which is so tied to tourism. The flip side is the continued low-key lifestyle, minimal growth and preservation of our most precious asset, water.

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Tucked away on page A4 of last week's Taos News was an article that deserves considerable attention of Taos residents. Our administration and some Taos business men apparently feel that a great way to stimulate business in Taos is to open our airport to many small jets that would transport people in and out from various major U.S. cities. Is this what we want - the buzz and pollution of more frequent jets in Taos skies? Do we want to turn Taos into an Aspen or Vail, Colorado?

I believe that when the pandemic is finally over, Taos will boom again without such compromising measures as the above. It's already happening in real estate.

What's most important is that we preserve the remaining charm, beauty and peacefulness of this valley, both for our own sake and that of tourists who wish to visit. We need to focus on creative ways to stimulate business without compromising the unique off-the-beaten-track appeal of Taos.

Decisions about expanding air traffic in our skies should come from a consensus of Taos residents, not just a few business people with their specialized interests.