The Belen Alexander Munincipal Airport is a small airport, mainly catering to private pilots – but it could get a lot bigger with an international flight school in the works, called “Project Flight.”
“It’s freedom, self reliance,” said pilot Art Tangen.
Tangen has been a pilot for more than a decade. He said there’s no better feeling than flying.
“Take off and you don’t have to follow a road, and if you see something you want to see you just turn the airplane and go look at it,” said Tangen.
Tangen said there’s a huge need for more commercial pilots, and an Albuquerque company might be able to fix that.
“Verticle Limit is trying to bring in international student trainees who are going to be pilots,” said Belen Mayor Jerah Cordova.
Cordova said Vertical Limit Aviation is hoping to bring in 500 people from around the world to Belen’s tiny airport to train to become future pilots – and in the process, make this tiny airport much bigger.
“The company is ready to start with the first phase, which is building a hangar at our airport where they’ll run their operations,” said Cordova.
They also have plans to build a dormitory for the 500 students. So why Belen?
“We have 320 days of beautiful flying weather like today,” said Tangen. “We have a great airport at a great location.”
The city said it’s working to get a final plan in place. They just hope they can help fill the pilot gap while bringing new people to this small city.
“It is just a sense of an accomplishment when you land the airplane at your destination,” said Tangen.
The mayor is optimistic. He hopes they will finalize a contract soon and start building that hangar within the next few months.
The hope is that bringing in such a big program like this will put Belen on the map, and bring even more businesses in the future.