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The airplanes come in, flying from all around southern New Mexico and lining up on the runway at the Las Cruces International Airport. Single pilots and families flying together, descend, sometimes in groups and they want to share their love of flight with community members coming in from the street side of the airport.
Brett Hahn has been a pilot based at LCIA since he learned to fly in the 1990s and said he and fellow pilots want to connect the air community and welcome the rest of Las Cruces, so they came up with a monthly event for everyone.
“We wanted to do something that is more relevant to the community, so that’s what the Rio Grande Planes N’ Coffee is all about,” Hahn said. The next one is 9-11 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 4, at the airport, 8960 Zia Blvd.
Hahn’s co-conspirator in the event, Jim Leon, owner of Jim Bob’s BBQ at the airport, said after two months of holding the Planes N’ Coffee event they have had plenty of participation.
“Some planes bring their whole family,” he said. “The come from Come from the El Paso airport or Santa Teresa. Also from Ruidoso, Truth or Consequences, Alamogordo and Silver City.”
There are groups of flyers that like to travel together out of El Paso, Alamogordo and beyond.
“That’s usually how they travel,” Hahn said. “They call it the 100-dollar hamburger – by the time they fly up here and go back, it’s 100 dollars.”
Leon provides the free coffee, makes the hamburgers, and his restaurant is the perfect place to hang out and chat about flight. The restaurant has been there for two years now in the space once known as the Crosswinds Grill.
Visitors also will see the numerous flight and airport related memorabilia that Leon has been collecting.
“The airport goes back to World War II aviation in southern New Mexico,” he said.
A tour around the lobby and restaurant space boasts a vintage parachute, artwork from the history of flight of the past, including posters from the facility’s Wings and Wheels yearly event, navigational charts and a military wall.
Leon said they would like to expand the event to be a joint planes and cars gathering.
“These kinds of Saturday morning get-togethers are done all up in the Midwest,” Hahn said. “Aviation enthusiasts get together on Saturdays; they have pancake breakfasts; on Tuesdays they have flyouts every week. Aviation is a huge part of the culture there but not so much here. So we are trying to change that.
“It’s paid for by the taxpayers, this is your airport, not my airport.”
“Come to Planes N’ Coffee and find out what the airport is all about,” Leon added.