The airport was Roswell Army International Airfield during World War II, and Walker Air Force Base during the Cold War. When it closed, the 4,600 acre base was the largest of the United States Air Force Strategic Air Command. Roswell International Air Center (RIAC) was developed after the closure of Walker Air Force Base on June 30, 1967.
Walker AFB was named after General Kenneth Newton Walker, a native of Los Cerrillos, New Mexico. He was killed during a bombing mission over Rabaul, Papua New Guinea on January 5, 1943. Though intercepted by enemy fighters, his group scored direct hits on nine Japanese ships. General Walker was last seen leaving the target area with one engine on fire and several fighters on his tail. For his actions, General Walker was awarded the Medal of Honor posthumously by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1943. The base was renamed in his honor on January 13, 1948.
In 1966 the Air Force announced that Walker AFB would close. This was during a round of base closings and consolidations as the Defense Department struggled to pay the expenses of the Vietnam War within the budgetary limits set by Congress.
RIAC is also known for the Roswell UFO incident, an event that allegedly occurred on July 4, 1947. It is alleged that a “flying disk” crashed during a severe thunderstorm near RIAC at Corona, New Mexico.
The site was used for several years to launch stratospheric balloons for Air Force projects.
RIAC also serves as a storage facility for a number of retired Airbus A300-600R wide body jetliners formerly operated by American Airlines.
The airport was used by Felix Baumgartner to launch his record-breaking freefall jump from the stratosphere on October 14, 2012.
Air Center Director
Scott’s love of aviation began when he was very young. His father took him to a small airport and left him with a friend at the airport while he was taking flying lessons. He’s been hooked ever since. Scott earned his private pilot license in 1989. While he was researching how to get into a pilot job, he discovered the Air Traffic Control occupation.He had a 24 year career as an Air Traffic Controller, working at 3 different air traffic control facilities in Louisiana and New Mexico, eventually moving into management in 2007. While in the FAA, Scott volunteered for several temporary assignments including EAA Airventure in Oshkosh, WI, working as a controller and supervisor for 7 years. Scott retired from the FAA as Air Traffic Manager of the Roswell Air Traffic Control Tower in 2013.
The day after retiring from the FAA he began work for the City of Roswell as the Airport Property Manager. In 2015 Scott moved into the Air Center Manager position and in 2016 was made Interim Air Center Director. In 2017 Scott was chosen as the permanent Air Center Director.
Mr. Stark is involved in the airport professional community and his local community serving as:
- Vice President of the New Mexico Airport Managers Association.
- New Mexico Director for the South Central Chapter of the American Association of Airport Executives.
- Volunteer firefighter and Assistant Chief for the rural fire department in Arabela, NM.
Mark A. Bleth
Mark is passionate about aviation and growing the Roswell Air Center in a sustainable way for the benefit of the local community. Mark is the Deputy Director for the Roswell International Air Center. He is responsible for property management of over 4,000 acres and 1.6M sq. ft. of office, hangar and warehouse space. In his business development role, he is responsible for growing existing businesses currently at the Air Center and for recruitment of future businesses. Mark also serves as the Marketing Director for the Air Center and works alongside the City’s Public Affairs office to incorporate the Air Center’s unique mission.
Mark’s love of aviation started as a teenager when he joined the United States Air Force, unfortunately Mark didn’t get his dream of flying, but instead got what the Air Force determined his aptitude matched. He ended up working on computer systems at the component level for Air Force Intelligence. Mark spent 6 years in the Air Force and left with great experiences, a degree in Electronic Systems and top-secret clearances. This experience paved the way for Mark’s next chapter at the prestigious Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque, NM working in the Robotics group.
In 1997, Mark was fortunate to be part of changing the way people live, work and play when he was recruited to work at Cisco Systems, Federal Civilian Area. Mark hired in as a Systems Engineer but did something that was unheard of after three years… he was promoted to the position of Major Account Manager. Engineers almost never transition into sales but was a natural fit with Mark’s proven leadership and achievement record. Mark met or exceeded his annual $10-12M quota until he left to join the company he started 18 months prior to his departure.
The company he started was different from any other work experience he had, it was tours and bus charters and Mark loved winning market share from companies that had been in the business for 75 years. Prior to Mark joining the company full time, the revenue was $20,000 with a hand full of part time employees, with 3 vehicles in one location. When Mark left for his next adventure, he had grown the company to over $2M in annual sales, over 40 employees, 3 locations and a fleet of over 30 buses.
Mark returned to his true love…aviation…by managing a general aviation airport in Truth or Consequences New Mexico. While he was there, he thought it would be a good idea to get his real estate license, since he was involved in property management and wanted to be as knowledgeable as possible. When the opportunity presented itself in Roswell, it seemed like a natural fit that his whole life experiences had lead him to. Not only does Mark have his dream job, he is working on his dream of becoming a pilot and has completed ground school and hopefully will have his pilot’s license someday.
Air Center Supervisor
I’ve had an interest and fascination with the Roswell Airport that started at an early age. In the 1970’s I would spend time and assist a family friend (Ted Yachik) cleaning hangers and moving equipment in support of Lufthansa and other entities performing training and testing at ROW.
I once, also at a young age gave airport operations a scare as I was observed riding my bicycle on runway 03-21. I recall a white Ford Fairmont with an enormous yellow strobe light trying to catch up with me, but I was able to make it back through the open gate in the security fence before being
captured. Airport security was much more lax back then.
In my teenage years I embarked in a career in the construction industry. During my thirty years of construction throughout New Mexico, I had the privilege of sharing in several projects at the Roswell
Airport. Some of them included additions and remodels of the terminal, hanger and equipment buildings and improvements. One of the more memorable was the construction of the Air Traffic Control
Tower. To date, that is the tallest structure that I’ve had a share in constructing. In March of 2017, I made a career transition to ROW. I now have the privilege of supervising the operations and maintenance of the airport. It is my determination to use my experience from the construction industry,
my fascination with aviation and the core values that have been instilled, to do my best to ensure a safe airfield environment and a pleasant experience for all that find themselves at ROW for whatever reason.
I feel that ROW has vast potential in the growth and future of our community and am happy to have a share in that goal.