Welcome to the Roswell Air Center (ROW), where the echoes of aviation history blend with the excitement of the future. Once known as the Roswell Army Airfield during World War II and later as Walker Air Force Base during the Cold War, this sprawling 4,600-acre base held the distinction of being the largest of the United States Air Force Strategic Air Command. As the base closed its doors on June 30, 1967, the Roswell Industrial Air Center (RIAC) emerged, embodying a new chapter in aviation excellence.
Walker AFB drew its name from General Kenneth Newton Walker, a courageous native of Los Cerrillos, New Mexico. General Walker was killed during a bombing mission over Rabaul, Papua New Guinea, on January 5, 1943, where his group inflicted significant damage 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. In honor of his heroic legacy, the base was renamed on January 13, 1948.
In 1966, amidst a landscape of base closings and consolidations driven by the fiscal challenges of the Vietnam War, Walker AFB was marked for closure. However, from the remnants of this iconic military installation, the Roswell Industrial Air Center (RIAC) emerged as a testament to adaptability, and the enduring spirit of aviation. Beyond its military lineage, RIAC has become synonymous with the mysterious Roswell UFO incident, an alleged event that transpired on July 4, 1947, when a supposed “flying disk” crashed amidst a powerful thunderstorm near Corona, New Mexico. This enigmatic episode has left an indelible mark on the airport’s history.
RIAC has served as a launchpad for Air Force projects involving stratospheric balloons, pushing the boundaries of exploration and scientific discovery. Additionally, it proudly serves as a storage facility for retired Airbus A300-600R wide-body jetliners, once flown by American Airlines.
Continuing its legacy of groundbreaking feats, the Roswell Air Center (ROW) reached new heights as it provided the platform for Felix Baumgartner’s record-breaking freefall jump from the stratosphere on October 14, 2012.
On October 24, 2014, Alan Eustace made a jump from the stratosphere at Roswell Air Center (ROW), breaking Felix Baumgartner’s 2012 world record. His gas balloon-powered ascent reached a reported maximum altitude of 135,889.108 feet. His descent to Earth lasted 4 minutes and 27 seconds and stretched nearly 26 miles with peak speeds exceeding 822 miles per hour setting new world records for the highest free-fall jump and total free-fall distance.
On October 29th, 2022 Sceye, a manufacturer of High-Altitude Platform Systems (HAPS), completed its “Sceye Infinity” mission to the stratosphere, successfully demonstrating a novel launch method and vertical ascent from Roswell Air Center (ROW). The HAPS carried a telecommunications payload that connected to mobile devices on the ground, paving the way for broadband connectivity for populations in rural areas. The company also collected important system performance and flying qualities data during the flight that will help build the next iteration of HAPS.
As you step onto the grounds of the Roswell Air Center (ROW), you become a part of this storied history. Embrace the adventure, revel in the spirit of innovation.Industrial