New Mexico Family Creating a Unique Airpark Mixer-Upper

Ranchers and farmers by trade, father-and-son aviators are merging their passions.

Sid Strebeck says Runway Bay Airpark is an easy place to fly into. Courtesy: Windsor Lacewell/Runway Bay

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 found a way to combine their love for aviation in a unique opportunity in the same place where their cattle graze. 

They're currently creating what they call “the Southwest’s premier lakefront fly-in community.” The 160-acre airpark property in Logan, New Mexico, boasts 60 planned homesites 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 Ute Lake, which is the state’s largest recreational body of water. They plan to open the airpark in March.

This natural aspect inspired the Strebecks’ overall work toward transforming some of the ranch for others to enjoy. 

“Our goal is to make an adventurous place where you can have fun, relax, play hard, and enjoy an environment that is family-friendly,” Sid says. 

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

Aircraft have been sharing this family property since 1987. Courtesy: Windsor Lacewell/Runway Bay

Family Tradition

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

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

And as a pilot of more than four decades, Sid has instilled a respect and appreciation for flight into all his sons. For instance, Layne, who currently lives on and operates the ranch, owns and flies a V-Tail Beechcraft Bonanza. In 2017, he thought to himself that it would be advantageous to add a grass strip to the ranch to check on cattle and his on-property Tige boat dealership more easily. 

Consequently, the family decided to choose a 2,800-foot-by-50-foot plot for a grass strip, and it has seen routine use over the past several years. And as the elder Strebeck saw the landing area being used more and more frequently, he recognized additional potential for the surrounding areas. 

“I thought to myself that it would be good to have a paved runway to be able to land my Piper Malibu on,” Sid says. “I talked to a friend who does road construction about the idea. He had about a 90-day timeframe where his crew wasn’t busy, so he gave us a sweetheart deal to get it done then.” 

Improvements Continue

“We thought that it would be neat to have hangar houses here, and one thing led to another.”

Sid Strebeck

The resulting 3,600-foot-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 onsite, Sid tried it out. Ever since, a wide range of aviators utilize the private-use runway. In addition to a pending FAA identifier for the airport, there are still plans to improve the runway, including the addition of:

  • Solar-powered runway lights
  • A fuel station
  • Hangars for transient traffic.  

Around the same time that work began on the new paved landing strip, other aviation-oriented ideas for the property came to mind. 

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

What he’s referencing is some of the unique planned, or potential, design elements incorporated into the hangar houses. For example, a key feature of the third home that will be built in the community is a drive-through hangar with a door on both ends. The home will also feature five bedrooms, six baths, and a slide from the second story—in addition to unobstructed views of the lake and surrounding land. The hangar itself will be 80-foot-by-120-foot, and the living quarters will be approximately 5,000 square feet. 

Other planned amenities at homes within the development are projector screens in hangars, large outdoor kitchens, and fire poles coming down into hangars, as well as many other unique amenities. 

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

“We currently have two completed hangars and are in the process of building three hangar houses. One is for our use, one is pre-sold, and one will be available for sale,” Sid says. “As it is planned today, there will be 60 lots at the airpark and roughly 16 are already spoken for. Each are roughly one and a half acres a piece, with some being adjacent to the grass airstrip and others to the paved runway.”

The runway that started it all. Courtesy: Jeremy Bush/Sidekick Creative Agency

As it relates to its use as an airpark, Sid simply says, “It’s an easy place to fly into.” 

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

Residents need not own an airplane to live in a hangar house. That said, Sid is hopeful that this will lead to opportunities for people wanting to learn to fly there who may have never been interested in aviation previously or had the convenient opportunity.

Grant Boyd is a private pilot with eight years of experience in aviation business, including marketing, writing, customer service, and sales. Boyd holds a Bachelor's and a Master's of Business Administration degree, both from Wichita State University, and a Doctor of Education degree from Oklahoma State University. He was chosen as a NBAA Business Aviation "Top 40 Under 40" award recipient in 2020.
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