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All systems clear and ready for take-off

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Laura Roebuck, Will C. Atkinson and a little helper are seen here putting up a new sign by Josh Berry, Metalmarks Eclectics, at yesterday’s grand opening of Spaceport Roswell. (Christina Stock Photo)

Spaceport Roswell launches on Fourth of July

Fourteen “test pilots” had lined up at 220 N. Main St. on Thursday at 9:45 a.m. — ready to be the first to experience Roebuck Entertainment’s new virtual reality event, Spaceport Roswell, which is presented by the Roswell Daily Record.

Among these few brave men, women and children was Michael Wilson, who said that he is from Virginia and is visiting his family in Roswell. He said his mother told him about Spaceport Roswell. Martin Kral and his wife, Linda Kral, joined him in one of the cabins. Tabitha Denny brought her family to the spaceport, which included her husband Shawn Denny, her son Jacob Mann and daughter Makaela Johnson with her daughter Ameliya.

After the large metal sign was set up — which was created by local metal artist Josh Berry, Metalmark Eclectics — the doors opened and the group entered the blue- and red-lit check-in area with its science-fiction atmosphere.

The passengers were greeted by the creator of the event, Jacob Roebuck, his wife Laura and — hired as preflight spaceport boarding instructor — local actor Will C. Atkinson.

Roebuck thanked the group and, because the flight “1947” was slightly delayed, the passengers could see both preflight adventures, “Invasion” with space bunnies and “Asteroids.”

“1947 is our version of the Incident,” Jacob Roebuck said before he guided the first two groups into their cabin for a security briefing by him and the flight attendant.

The opening happened a day before the UFO Festival began to make sure the equipment was in working order.

Linda Kral said that she would love to see virtual reality available in other ways. “I have so many ideas,” she said to Roebuck, who was showing how to adjust the headgear. “How about Karaoke? You could perform in front of thousands, you could be a star.

“That is the magic of virtual reality,” Roebuck said. “You can go everywhere and do what you want.”

Roebuck said that he was looking for a permanent home for the virtual reality event, and sponsors.

After some minor glitches in the programming of the headsets, the adventure began for the first “test pilots.” Soon, heads were turning this and that way, hands were reaching out to touch the alien landscape. You could hear sounds of surprise and “Wow!” from the cabin. One passenger was heard saying, “Jiminy Cricket, what’s that thing behind me?” Others were giggling and laughing. One passenger suggested, “Look down and spin (the chair).” Another replied, “No, don’t. There goes the spaceship.” Linda Kral said, “Gosh, I got a white handle. It looks so real.”

The public has until Monday to experience Spaceport Roswell. It opens daily from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., and on Sunday from 1 to 8 p.m. However, because of limited cabin sizes, the Roebucks suggest getting a “flight” ticket ahead of time at spaceportroswellnm.com.

Christina Stock may be contacted at 622-7710, ext. 309, or at vision@rdrnews.com.