It’s been four years since West Virginia International Yeager Airport (KCRW) suddenly found itself in the FBO business. Back in 2018, the airport board voted to void its contract with its long-time service provider after the president of that company pled guilty to federal charges of illegally storing hazardous waste from the FBO, thus paving the way for the airport to take over the facility. At the time, the airport director noted the trend of airports of KCRW's size reclaiming their FBOs for self-management and indicated that the decision to buy back the FBO did not hinge entirely on the legal matter.
The airport originally opened in 1947 as Kanawha Airport and was renamed in 1985 to honor native son and aviation legend Chuck Yeager. Upon assuming FBO operations, it rebranded the facility as Capital Jet Center (CJC), befitting its role as the private aviation gateway to the state’s capital of Charleston.
Located at the southeastern end of the field, the FBO offers a 2,800-sq-ft, two-story terminal with an upstairs pilot lounge boasting views of the ramp, a snooze room, shower facilities, flight planning/weather area, two a/v-equipped conference rooms seating 6 and 10 respectively, and crew cars. While rental cars through most of the major providers can be obtained at the commercial terminal with an advance reservation, they can also be delivered to the FBO ahead of arriving flights.
KCRW is the state’s only international airport and in April it celebrated the ribbon-cutting of its U.S Customs facility. The $4 million, 5,000-sq-ft building is linked to the terminal by a glass-sheathed hallway and is staffed from 9 am to 5 pm on weekdays but can also provide after-hours clearance by appointment.
Home to several dozen aircraft, the airport complex offers several community hangars for a total of 55,000 sq ft of space. It can provide shelter for aircraft up to the latest large-cabin business jets and CJC will soon be acquiring a Lektro aircraft tug to move them. As well, the airport is looking to issue an RFI on the construction of up to three 10,000-sq-ft private hangars.
The airport which has a 6,800-foot runway is open 24/7 and its FBO handles many overnight emergency medical flights of patients heading to the city’s two major hospitals. The state’s coal and natural gas industries also bring traffic to the airport. And with nearby New River Gorge being named the country’s newest national park, the FBO has seen some boost in traffic over the past year as well. Additionally, Marshall University last fall started the Bill Noe Flight School on the field with Capital Jet Center providing ground handling.
General manager for customer service Andrea Gritt noted that activity thus far in 2022 is exceeding the Covid-impacted 2020 totals by 80 percent and is on a pace to exceed pre-Covid 2019 levels. With 8.5 acres of ramp space, the airport is looking ahead to future growth. “Right now with our ramp size we are getting constricted, and then if things continually increase at the pace they’ve been increasing we’ll be vastly constricted,” added Kevin Brown, who heads up the FBO’s aviation services.
Looking to eventually double its existing ramp, the airport’s first phase of construction—paid for by a mixture of FAA AIP grants, state infrastructure funds, and airport capital—could possibly begin this summer and would involve paving some greenfield property as well as converting the underused parallel Taxiway Charlie into an aircraft parking area.
The FBO has a staff of 28 and its NATA Safety 1st-trained line staff provides all fueling services on the field to business, commercial, military, and general aviation traffic. It pumps on average 2.3 million gallons a year from its fuel farm which has a capacity of 40,000 gallons of jet-A, and 10,000 gallons of avgas.
The Epic Fuels-branded facility just renewed its fleet of refuelers last year, receiving four new jet tankers (two 7,000-gallon, one 5,000-gallon, and one 3,000-gallon) as well as a pair of 1,000-gallon avgas trucks.
“At CJC we try to have a "can-do attitude" and help every customer that walks through our door,” Gritt told AIN. She recalled a recent instance when a based customer mentioned he was going to be bringing a newly-adopted puppy home on his return flight. The FBO’s staff immediately sprang into action and arranged a surprise welcoming party for the dog on its arrival, much to the delight and amusement of its owner.