Charleston’s Yeager Airport and the West Virginia Air Guard will celebrate their 70th anniversary with an air show Sept. 30-Oct. 1, featuring flying demonstrations, aircraft displays and tours, and rides aboard World War II-era aircraft.
Known as Kanawha Airport when it opened in 1947, after three years of earth-moving work, the hilltop airport’s name was changed in 1985 to honor Brig. Gen. Chuck Yeager, the Lincoln County native who, in 1947, became the first pilot to achieve supersonic flight.
The 167th Fighter Squadron became the first operational Air National Guard unit in West Virginia in 1947, flying North American P-51 and F-51 Mustangs from Kanawha Airport.
The air show will include several examples of aircraft associated with the airport during its early years, including a Curtiss C-46 Commando transport plane — the first aircraft assigned to the West Virginia Air Guard’s 130th Airlift Wing — and an American Airlines DC-3, the first commercial aircraft to operate at Kanawha Airport during its 1947 debut.
A World War II-era P-51 fighter will be part of a “Rise Above” traveling exhibit detailing the history of the Tuskegee Airmen, who formed the first two squadrons of black fighter pilots given the opportunity to serve in the U.S. military and did so with distinction during World War II.
Other aircraft committed to taking part in the air show, so far, include World War II-era B-17 Flying Fortress and B-25 Mitchell bombers and a C-47 Skytrain transport from the Yankee Air Museum. Also scheduled are a World War I-era Curtiss JN-4 Jenny biplane, a Stinson L-5 “Flying Jeep” single-engine observation plane, a T-6 Texan training aircraft for fighter pilots and a World War II-era Grumman TMB Avenger torpedo bomber.
Rides will be available aboard the B-17 and B-25 bombers for a fee. Rides can be booked at http://yankeeairmuseum.org/book-a-flight-experience.
Entry to the air show will be free, with parking available on the airfield from an entry gate at the general aviation area. Overflow parking will be available in Yeager Airport’s long-term parking garages. Buses will shuttle air show attendees from the parking areas to the entry gate.
Food and beverages will be available from vendors.
The “Rise Above” traveling exhibit on the history of the Tuskegee Airmen includes a 30-seat theater with a 160-degree panoramic screen, on which a movie detailing the hardships and high points of the fighter pilots are detailed, and the feeling of flying in a P-51 Mustang can be realized.
Hours for the air show will 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. each day.
Details of the air show were announced Wednesday during a meeting of the Charleston airport’s governing board.
Reach Rick Steelhammer at email@example.com, 304-348-5169 or follow @rsteelhammer on Twitter.