Guard plans training drops at airport

June 11, 1997


Staff Writer, Martinsburg

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - The West Virginia Air National Guard base here has decided to use the Eastern West Virginia Regional Airport for its air drop training missions, officials said.

The Air Guard used to conduct the missions at the airport, but it had to find a new area to train because the site it had been using is where the Sino-Swearingen LP jet plant is being built.

The Air Guard wanted to conduct training flights over a 300-acre site in the extreme northwest corner of Clarke County, Va. But some residents there opposed the plan because they were concerned about safety, noise from the airplanes and a potential decline in property values.


Air Guard officials said the training would involve dropping 20-pound bags of sand tied to parachutes and heavy equipment weighing up to 3,400 pounds.

The new site at the Eastern West Virginia Regional Airport is a "limited" drop area where only 15-pound bags of sand tied to parachutes will be dropped, according to Lt. Col. Jesse Thomas. The training area is a runway several hundred yards north of the old training site, Thomas said.

Additional training will be conducted at the Fort Indiantown Gap Army unit near Harrisburg, Pa., Thomas said.

Air Guard officials said they will continue to look for other areas to conduct training flights.

The Herald-Mail Articles