CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Yeager Airport is becoming a popular destination for military training operations for both the West Virginia National Guard and agencies across the country.
Yeager Airport and National Guard officials announced the facility is becoming a “Home Base” for any branch of the military while they train in the Charleston and southern West Virginia area.
Officials said the airport and Capital Jet Center will provide all five branches of the military with fuel, planning facilities, space to park aircraft, help with lodging arrangements, and recreational plans for units staying multiple days.
“We’ve got units coming from other National Guard organizations across the country, we’ve got active-duty units coming on a regular basis here to train,” State Adjutant Gen. Jim Hoyer said to the media on Thursday.
“We are becoming an asset to the nation.”
In less than two years, more than 125 military aviation units have come through Yeager Airport, a release said. These units come from all five branches of the military, including some allied nations training in the United States.
Hoyer said the reasons the state is attractive to units to train are the opportunities presented that are significant to the future threats the nation faces. He said there are adequate training areas, terrain and wide-open spaces to conduct a broad spectrum of missions.
He also said the culture in the state towards safety make national units feel welcome.
“We’ve got to continue to help those men and women who we send in harm’s way to have the best training possible and have the best opportunity to go home to their families at the end of the operation,” Hoyer said.
Hoyer, Kanawha County Commission President Kent Carper and Yeager Airport Assistant Director Buzz Mason all noted that there will be more air traffic around communities at all times of the day but it’s necessary.
“When the Ospreys come over, they make a good bit of noise,” Hoyer said. “But we have two kids in the National Guard and we understand the significance of training to making sure those folks have the best opportunity to survive in a combat operation or a recovery/response operation somewhere around our country.”
Yeager Airport can hot fuel military aircraft. Director Nick Keller has said that fueling is expected to be a significant piece of the airport’s budget for the next fiscal year in income and it will support jobs for the airport.
By hot fueling airplanes, officials said that it increases the training efficiency for military aircraft and allows them to keep their engines running while being fueled. The airport also has land agreements with coal companies to allow military aircraft to practice landing and taking off on their properties.
The airport has a military operations coordinator on staff. Hoyer said he looks forward to the “important” partnership between the National Guard and the airport.
“You can’t have an airbase without an airport. In addition to that, we have a headquarters building for the entire National Guard that is tied together with the airport as well,” he said.
“If you look at the cost to run an air National Guard base to the cost of running an active duty base, the numbers are staggeringly different.”