New Mexico Family Creates Unique Airpark Mixer-Top

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The Strebeck family of northeastern New Mexico is entering its seventh generation in ranching and farming. Both accomplished pilots, the father and son duo of Sid and Layne Strebeck have found a way to combine their love for aviation into a unique opportunity in the same place where their cattle graze.

They are currently creating what they call “the Southwest’s first lakeside air-accessible community.” The 160-acre airpark property in Logan, New Mexico has 60 planned residential sites that surround two runways.

Sid explains that Runway Bay Airpark is part of their 24,000 acre cattle ranch. The property encompasses 23 miles of shoreline along the 8,600-acre Lake Ute, which is the state’s largest recreational body of water. They plan to open the airpark in March.

This natural look inspired the overall work of the Strebecks to transform part of the ranch for others to enjoy.

“Our goal is to create a place of adventure where you can have fun, relax, play hard and enjoy a family environment,” says Sid.

Other plans for the overall airpark development include a Jack Nicklaus-designed nine-hole golf course and 12 Shores at Ute Lake, which adjoins Runway Bay. A nearby off-road park offers residents the opportunity to drive four-wheeled and side-by-side vehicles over varied terrain. The lake itself is also popular for fishing and water sports. Estate lots will also be available in the nearby community of Ute Lake.

Aircraft have shared this family property since 1987. Courtesy of Windsor Lacewell/Runway Bay

family tradition

The Strebeck family has owned the ranch property since 1987, and the four sons of Sid and his wife Selena were raised working on the ranch. Today, they continue to enjoy its beauty, along with their 14 grandchildren.

“It’s a great place to work cattle on horseback, hike, see wildlife, play in the water and on the sandy beaches, and enjoy beautiful views of the lake and surrounding area,” says Sid .

And as a pilot for over four decades, Sid has instilled respect and appreciation for flight in all of his sons. For example, Layne, who currently lives and operates the ranch, owns and flies a V-Tail Beechcraft Bonanza. In 2017, he figured it would be beneficial to add a grass strip to the ranch to make it easier to keep an eye on the cattle and his Shank boat dealership on the property.

Therefore, the family decided to choose a 2,800 foot by 50 foot lot for a grass strip, and it has been used regularly over the past few years. And as the elder Strebeck saw the landing zone being used more and more frequently, he recognized additional potential for the surrounding areas.

“I thought it would be nice to have a paved runway so I could land my Piper Malibu,” says Sid. “I spoke to a friend who does road construction about the idea. He had a period of about 90 days when his crew was not busy, so he gave us a deal to do it at that time.

Improvements continue

“We thought it would be nice to have hangars here, and one thing led to another.”

Sid Strebeck

The resulting 3,600-by-50-foot paved surface, which was built to FAA standards, was completed this summer. Almost immediately after its completion, with some of the crew and equipment still on site, Sid tried it out. Since then, a wide range of aviators have used the runway for private use. In addition to a pending FAA ID for the airport, there are still plans to improve the runway, including the addition of:

  • Solar powered runway lights
  • A petrol station
  • Sheds for passing traffic.

Around the same time work began on the new paved airstrip, other aviation-focused ideas for the property came to mind.

“We thought it would be nice to have hangars here, and one thing led to another,” says Sid. “We don’t want them to look like a shed or a house. They will not be boxes but will have a real interest in them.

What he is referring to are some of the planned or potential unique design elements incorporated into the hangars. For example, a key feature of the third house to be built in the community is a shed with a door at both ends. The home will also feature five bedrooms, six bathrooms and a second-story waterslide, in addition to stunning views of the lake and surrounding land. The hangar itself will be 80 feet by 120 feet and the living quarters will be approximately 5,000 square feet.

Other amenities planned for homes in the development are projection screens in the sheds, large outdoor kitchens, and fire hydrants that drop down into the sheds, along with many other unique amenities.

They anticipate that the smallest shed built at the development will be around 3,000 square feet and the largest around 12,000. Each home will be simple and designed for minimal maintenance, allowing residents to focus on spending time with their family and friends.

“We currently have two hangars completed and are in the process of building three hangars. One is for our use, the other is pre-sold, and the other will be available for sale,” says Sid. “As planned today, there will be 60 lots at the airpark and about 16 are already reserved. Each is about an acre and a half per piece, some adjacent to the grass airstrip and others to the paved track.

The track that started it all. Courtesy of Jeremy Bush/Sidekick Creative Agency

Regarding its use as an air park, Sid simply says, “It’s an easy place to get to.”

“There are no obstacles. There is not a single high [power] line on the 10,000 acres south of the ranch,” he says.

Residents do not need to own an airplane to live in a hangar. That said, Sid hopes it will lead to opportunities for people wanting to learn to fly there who may not have been interested in aviation before or had the opportunity.

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