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Excellence is abound in N.M.

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By Hal Rhodes

We forget our excellence. This is understandable. Stuff that works is boring. Or at least seriously less interesting than a murder trial featuring 10 or so sexual relationships.
A report headlined, “State could be a big player in drone industry,” ran July 7 in the Albuquerque Journal. Part of the story, supported by a map, discussed New Mexico State University’s drone testing activity that dates to 2001. Excellence in action. Here are more examples.
New Mexico has other experience with flying machines with long thin bodies and wide wings — gliders. The 12,500-member Soaring Society of America is headquartered in Hobbs and has been there for a while. Think about it: 12,500 people plus friends and families with a focus on New Mexico. To the north, from Moriarty, Sundance Aviation offers glider rides and rental (soarsundance.com).
In Albuquerque, Eclipse Aerospace, the successor to the ballyhooed Eclipse Aviation, quietly, so far as I know, goes about its business of making airplanes.
Also in the air, recreational balloon gatherings occur around the state. Besides Albuquerque, events are in Taos, White Sands, Gallup and Elephant Butte.
Our balloons do science, too. Based in Palestine Texas, NASA’s Columbia Scientific Balloon Facility, managed by NMSU’s Physical Science Laboratory, counts Fort Sumner as an operations site. The facility launches large balloons that go to high altitudes carrying scientific instruments.
Other elements of the airplane life cycle happen in Roswell at the International Air Center. Stewart International Industries Roswell takes planes apart, Dean Baldwin Painting paints them and AerSale supplies aftermarket flight equipment.
In the higher tech mode, Sandia National Laboratories and Los Alamos National Laboratory have each scored three more of the annual R&D 100 awards from R&D Magazine. The awards are known as the “Oscars of Innovation.”
New Mexicans are very good at design. Consider Nambé. The Corrales “Zome House” home of Steve and Holly Baer was featured last year by a Dutch architectural magazine as one of a handful of homes called the most innovative in the world.
In Torrance County is a national monument, the three-unit Salinas Pueblo Missions National Monument, which consists of the Abo, Quarai and Gran Quivira missions.
For exported excellence, 10 paintings by Peter Hurd of San Patricio are “the real value” in the collection of Samuel A. Cooke, a retired stockbroker in Hawaii whose ancestors came to the islands in the 1840s. Hurd did the paintings for Amfac in 1949. Back in the state, the Hurd La Rinconada Gallery in the Hondo Valley is a must stop. Michael Hurd, painter and Peter’s son, built the gallery.
From Placitas, John and Linda Stimson produce the Rock of Ages catalogue offering books about earth sciences that they say you “just can’t find anywhere else.”
The Otero County pistachios may have faded into the conceptual woodwork. But George and Marianne Schweers were considered radical dreamers in the mid-1970s when they bought what has become the Eagle Ranch Pistachio Groves and the Heart of the Desert Vineyards. Their success eventually drew a competitor: McGinn’s Pistachio Tree Ranch and Arena Blanca Winery, located near Eagle Ranch north of Alamogordo.
Excellence abounds here. So do large and ignored problems.