THE TRUTH OR CONSEQUENCES MUNICIPAL AIRPORT guarantees you can see a shooting star. Not the kind from outer space, but a vintage Lockheed T-33 Shooting Star that once zoomed through the skies at 600 mph. Produced from 1948 to 1959, the “T-Bird” was a military darling both here and internationally. In 2000, the Air Force loaned one to the city, which placed it in Ralph Edwards Park. Over time, the canopy blew off, the tires disappeared, and vandals used it as a shooting target. There was talk of cutting it up for scrap, says Charles Vangelder, former secretary of the Experimental Aircraft Association. The EAA moved the T-Bird to a vacant hangar at the airport, where it received new rivets, bearings, tires, and anchor bolts. Student artists from Hot Springs High School painted new insignia on it. Vangelder admits that the plane still needs work. “We know it’s not perfect,” he says. “We couldn’t get the landing gear or the dive brakes tucked, and a T-33 needs tip tanks. We’re still looking.” Despite that, airport manager Chad Rosacker considers it an iconic landmark, especially for such a small airport.
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The Truth or Consequences Municipal Airport is on Shooting Star Road, off NM 181. Take exit 89 on I-25, near Elephant Butte.