130th Airlift Wing, Yeager Airport share vital relationship
By Senior Airman Caleb Vance, 130th Airlift Wing
/ Published January 29, 2019
McLaughlin Air National Guard Base, W.Va. -- The 130th Airlift Wing and neighboring Yeager Airport have a very unique partnership. The two facilities that both veer off Greenbrier Street in Charleston, W.Va. coexist in a vital relationship.
The history between the two goes back to the creation of both. In 1944, the construction for then Charleston Airport began following World War II, and as its completion came about three years later, Brig. Gen. J. Kemp McLaughlin, a former World War II pilot, established the West Virginia Air National Guard.
Yeager Airport is the premier airport in the state of West Virginia. It hosts flights all over the country through various airlines and generates approximately $174 million annually and has a huge economic impact on the state of West Virginia.
On the other hand, the 130th Airlift Wing is also a key player in West Virginia’s economic impact, contributing $50 million annually with 1,100 part-time employees and around 300 full-time employees.
“From the economic impact to our shared relationship with the community, our partnership has built and continues to build on those foundations,” Col. Johnny Ryan, 130th Airlift Wing Commander, explained. “To simply put it, we would no longer be here if it were not for the other.”
The one thing that keeps the two a powerhouse in the Kanawha Valley is the 130th’s Fire and Emergency Services, which is part of the Civil Engineering Squadron. They provide Yeager with 24-hour a day, 365 days a year of emergency, medical and fire protection services in exchange for the 130th leasing the airport for $1 per year. Additionally, the 130th does not have to maintain the airport.
If the fire department was not there, it would cost Yeager over $2 million annually to provide similar services from a civilian department. Yeager would have to raise the landing fees by nearly doubling them as well as the lease for businesses in the facility by $7 per square foot. This would prove to be detrimental to the airport and ultimately West Virginia’s economy itself.
Likewise, the fire department proved to be essential when in 2005 the Base Realignment and Closure Commission (BRACC) had plans to decommission the 130th, but Yeager, along with the surrounding community and state as a whole, vouched for the wing and its impact.
The development of the Master Cooperative Agreement (MCA) between the 130th Fire Emergency Services and Yeager Airport began in 1988. It has allowed the airport and 130th to be recognized as an Air Carrier Emergency Landing Location for all types of in-flight emergencies 24 hours a day.
“In my opinion, this is one of the finest working relationships you will find throughout the United States,” said Carver. “Our joint agreement is a huge win-win for both the Air National Guard and the Airport Authority, plus it provides us with constant on-the-job training to keep us always ready to go.”
Additionally, the 130th works closely with Yeager on other things such as wildlife control, safety regulations, all airfield issues and overall security. The two are often engaged for a variety of reasons, such as airport runway expansion and air shows.
“The partnership between Yeager Airport and the 130th Airlift Wing is a partnership that benefits both organizations and needless to say, we greatly value our relationship with the 130th,” said Terry Sayre, Director of Yeager Airport.