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Wed Jul 1, 2020, 12:26 PM

Yeager Airport earning reputation as home base for military training operations

In the past 20 months, aircraft from at least 126 military aviation units and thousands of Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force and Coast Guard aircrew members, support teams and trainees have spent time at Yeager Airport.



Yeager Airport earning reputation as home base for military training operations

By Rick Steelhammer Staff writer Jun 25, 2020

Less than two years ago, military use of Charleston’s Yeager Airport was generally limited to C-130 flights operated by the home-based 130th Airlift Wing and sporadic refueling stops by military aircraft passing through the area.

“Back then, we’d get maybe two or three transient military aircraft a week stopping in to refuel,” said Nick Keller, Yeager’s director. “So far this month, we’ve handled more than 100.”

In the past 20 months, aircraft from at least 126 military aviation units and thousands of Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force and Coast Guard aircrew members, support teams and trainees have spent time at Yeager Airport.

The increased military presence at the Charleston airport is no lucky accident.

In his prior role as the airport’s assistant director, Keller and current Assistant Director James “Buzz” Mason, a former Navy helicopter pilot, spearheaded a marketing effort to bring in more military traffic. But before pitching the airport as a training base, they needed to develop some unique selling points and hone some existing ones, which they accomplished with help from Yeager’s governing board, National Guard officials and area coal companies.

In February, 2019, the airport signed lease agreements for five inactive surface mines in Boone and Logan counties identified as being suitable to serve as remote military training sites.

{snip}

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Reply Yeager Airport earning reputation as home base for military training operations (Original post)
mahatmakanejeeves Jul 2020 OP
cyclonefence Jul 2020 #1
Staph Jul 2020 #2
cyclonefence Jul 2020 #3

Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Original post)

Wed Jul 1, 2020, 01:04 PM

1. And why not?

Virtually no commercial traffic.

This airport was deadly for many years because, since it is located on a mountaintop, the runways were really too short for jet planes to land. Pilots who did not know how short the runways were almost always overshot. Lots of deaths. Eventually the surrounding mountaintops were flattened so that the runways could be extended, making Yeager much safer.

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Response to cyclonefence (Reply #1)

Wed Jul 1, 2020, 04:16 PM

2. Where did you get the info that there were lots of deaths?

In a quick Google search, I found a cargo flight in 2017 that killed two, and a flight instructor who died the same year in a Cessna that flipped over. At the time, the Charleston Gazette reported that it was the first fixed-wing fatality at the airport since 1985.

I lived in Charleston for decades, and vaguely remember that 1985 crash, a drug runner who tried to land at the airport after hours.

My general experience in flying in and out of Charleston four times a month for decades was that airline pilots took landing at Yeager Airport very seriously, because the runways were relatively short and because the airport was built on three hilltops with sharp dropoffs at the end of the runways. The Air Force One pilots used to come down on Tuesday afternoons to do touch-and-go's, because the airport was terribly busy and because it's a technically trick landing.

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Response to Staph (Reply #2)

Wed Jul 1, 2020, 05:15 PM

3. Well hello there!

Last edited Sat Jul 4, 2020, 12:21 PM - Edit history (1)

I lived in Charleston from age 4 until I left for college in 1965, long before they extended the runways.

I'm not mistaken about the many crashes at Yeager (which was then Kanawha County Airport, I think). There were horrible crashes every year. This was long before they even had those elevated lights guiding planes toward the airport. Jets really should have been banned until the runways were extended.

I searched Kanawha County Airport and most of the results came up from later, 2017 and later. The really bad crashes came during the fifties and sixties, but I think it would take a long time to winnow those out, if they're listed or not.

We lived on Michigan Ave.

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