Yeager Airport

June 4, 1971: Retired Coal Miner Hijacks Plane

Jun 4, 2018
Glen Riggs arrested
Skyjacker of the Day /

On June 4, 1971, West Virginia’s only documented plane hijacking occurred in Charleston. Glenn Elmo Riggs, a 58-year-old retired coal miner from Boone County, hijacked a United Airlines flight that had stopped over at Kanawha Airport—now known as Yeager Airport. 

He boarded the flight with a .32-caliber pistol and a box of bullets. Shortly after takeoff, he hijacked the 737 and demanded that the pilots fly him to Israel so he could help build a new temple.

C-130 Hercules airplanes at Yeager Airport in Charleston, WV. 130th Airlift Wing.
United States Air Force / USGOV-PD

Updated on Tuesday, May 15, 2018 at 11:55 a.m.

West Virginia officials welcomed a military contingent from Qatar as part of a security and economic partnership Monday.

U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin said in a statement the Qatar officials toured the West Virginia National Guard's 130th Air Wing in Charleston.

November 3, 1947: Dedication of Kanawha Airport

Nov 3, 2017
Aerial view of Yeager Airport
e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia

On November 3, 1947, Kanawha Airport was dedicated on Coonskin Ridge near Charleston. World War I ace Captain Eddie Rickenbacker was among those present. The massive earth-moving and mountain-leveling project had taken three years to complete.

The airport’s terminal building was finished in 1950, and an addition was built in 1970. A runway-extension project was completed a year later, allowing the airport to accommodate jet airliners. Other renovations have occurred periodically over the years.

Greg Goebel /

West Virginia's most used airport will receive a $13.5 million Federal Aviation Administration grant to rebuild the runway safety overrun area that collapsed after a 2015 landslide.

The Charleston Gazette-Mail reports the state's U.S. congressmen announced the allocation Wednesday for Yeager Airport. Replacing the area allows Yeager to restore 500 feet (150 meters) of runway for operational use.

Helmy oved / Wikimedia Commons

West Virginia's Yeager Airport says a paving project on the road leading to it has been completed ahead of schedule.

The airport said the project was completed Wednesday and caused minimal delay to airport patrons.

This Week in West Virginia History.
e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia online.

Just after midnight on June 6, 1979, an old Douglas DC-6 cargo plane carrying 12 tons of marijuana attempted to land at Charleston’s Kanawha Airport—now Yeager Airport.

Two Ryder rental trucks were waiting at the airport to haul away the illegal cargo, but the scheme went awry when the plane plummeted off the edge of the runway. Hundreds of bales of marijuana spewed from the plane before it caught fire.

Ben Queen / AP

The crew of a propeller plane carrying UPS cargo made no distress call before the small aircraft landed hard enough to gouge the runway and break into pieces on Friday, a federal investigator said.

Both the pilot and co-pilot were killed as their plane went off the edge of a steep, wooded hillside. There was no fire, but responders had to cut their way through thick brush and trees from above and below to reach their bodies.

Yeager Airport Crash
Ben Queen / AP

A cargo plane crash landed at Yeager Airport in Charleston just before 7 a.m. Friday, killing the pilot and co-pilot, according to emergency officials. 

@yeagerairport / Twitter

Yeager Airport officials have submitted emergency infrastructure proposal to the West Virginia Department of Transportation, calling for the installation of a new system to stop planes that overshoot the end of the runway.

The Charleston Gazette-Mail reports that the $14 million plan for a new Engineered Materials Arresting System is intended to be an interim safety project in advance of a $175 million long-term plan to lengthen the runway from 6,802 feet to 8,000 feet and add safety overrun space.

Todd Harrell / West Virginia National Guard

Charleston airport officials have proposed a $290 million emergency infrastructure project for rebuilding and extending Yeager Airport's runway following a 2015 landslide at the safety-overrun area.

The Charleston Gazette-Mail reports the proposal calls for lengthening the runway from about 6,800 feet to 8,000 feet, and adding 1,000-foot safety zones at each end.

@yeagerairport / Twitter

The Transportation Security Administration says a loaded handgun was discovered in a carry-on bag at Yeager Airport in Charleston.

The agency says airport police cited a South Charleston woman on a state weapon's charge Sunday.

Todd Harrell / West Virginia National Guard

A road has been cleared of debris from a 2015 landslide at Yeager Airport's safety-overrun area.

The Charleston Gazette-Mail reports the last of the debris has been removed from the Kanawha County road below the hilltop airport. Officials are now awaiting action by the state Division of Highways to reopen it.

@yeagerairport / Twitter

Transportation Security Administration officials have discovered a loaded handgun at Yeager Airport in Charleston.

The discovery of the gun marked the 10th time a person has brought a gun to the airport this year. In 2015, only two people brought in guns to the airport.

Todd Harrell / West Virginia National Guard

Kanawha County officials are looking at restoring, or possibly extending, the Yeager Airport runway after a March 2015 landslide.

The Charleston Gazette-Mail reports that Kanawha County Commission President Kent Carper would like to double the runway length. He made the comments during a tour of the slide zone Tuesday.

Charleston's Yeager Airport
e-WV / WV Humanitites Council

On August 10, 1968, a Piedmont Airlines plane was approaching Charleston’s Kanawha Airport when it clipped some trees, crashed into a hillside, and burned; 35 of the 37 people on board were killed.

The passenger plane was en route from Louisville, Kentucky, to Roanoke, Virginia, with stops in Cincinnati and Charleston.

@yeagerairport / Twitter

Officials say a Huntington man has been cited after trying to bring a loaded gun onto a plane at the Yeager Airport.

Yeager Airport Police Chief Joe Crawford tells local news outlets that officials cited 31-year-old Thomas Marcum with a violation of airport regulation following Wednesday's incident.

Uber, Lyft
Cstockwe / wikimedia commons

A Yeager Airport committee is meeting to discuss a contract with the ride-hailing service Uber.

The Central West Virginia Regional Airport Authority's financial committee will meet Wednesday to discuss the contract.

@yeagerairport / Twitter

Officials say a plane flying from New York to Tennessee made an emergency landing in West Virginia after striking a bird.

News outlets report the 57 passengers onboard the Delta flight had an unexpected layover Thursday at Charleston's Yeager Airport.

April 8, 1951: C-47 Transport Plane Crashes Near Kanawha Airport

Apr 8, 2016
Pictured is a U.S. Air Force Douglas C-47 Skytrain of the 167th Fighter Squadron, West Virginia Air National Guard. The 167th flew the C-47 from 1947 to 1958.

On April 8, 1951, a C-47 transport plane crashed near Charleston’s Kanawha Airport, which is now Yeager Airport, killing 21 members of the Air National Guard. They were on their way to Charleston for the funeral of fellow Guardsmen Major Woodford Sutherland. Sutherland had been killed in a freak training accident in Florida in which his parked P-51D Mustang was hit by another plane.

Office of Governor Earl Ray Tomblin

Work on clearing what remains of Yeager Airport's collapsed safety overrun area will be on hold until protocols for collecting samples of materials from the slide for use as evidence in pending lawsuits are worked out in Kanawha Circuit Court.

Yeager Executive Director Terry Sayre says guidelines for conducting such forensic tests will be taken up during an April 13 status hearing. Until sampling procedures are agreed upon, no slide removal work can be done.

Aerial view of Yeager Airport
e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia

A small private plane skidded off the taxiway at Yeager Airport in Charleston.

The plane went off into the grass toward the end of the taxiway Wednesday night.

Todd Harrell / West Virginia National Guard

The insurance company for the church destroyed in the Yeager Airport landslide has given formal notice that it will sue the airport and others over the damage.

The Charleston Gazette-Mail reports that Brotherhood Mutual Insurance Company filed the notice last week that it intends to sue the Central West Virginia Regional Airport Authority on behalf of Keystone Apostolic Church. The church was destroyed when the airport's safety-overrun slope fell last year.

Joshuashearn / wikimedia Commons

Yeager Airport police cited a Logan County man after a loaded handgun was discovered in a carry-on bag.

The Transportation Security Administration says a TSA officer staffing an X-ray machine at the airport's checkpoint detected the .38-caliber semiautomatic handgun on Saturday as the bag passed along a conveyor belt.

Office of Governor Earl Ray Tomblin

A Charleston woman has pleaded guilty to falsely obtaining benefits meant for residents forced out of their homes by a landslide at Yeager Airport.

The Charleston Gazette-Mail reports that 28-year-old Lindsey Marie Meadows pleaded guilty on Monday to obtaining under false pretenses. She's scheduled to be sentenced Jan. 22 in Kanawha County Circuit Court.

@yeagerairport / Twitter

Federal authorities are opening a temporary center at Yeager Airport to take applications for an expedited screening program.

The program allows U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents to leave on their shoes, belt and light outerwear in airport checkpoint screening lanes. Travelers who enroll in the program also can keep their laptops in cases and compliant liquids and gels in carry-on bags.

Office of Governor Earl Ray Tomblin

Yeager Airport officials are seeking state funding of up to $35 million to rebuild a landslide-prone hill near the airport.

The Charleston Gazette-Mail reports they're prepared to ask Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin and legislators to tap the state's so-called rainy day fund for $25 million to $35 million. That is the sum they believe is needed to begin rebuilding the safety-overrun zone that collapsed in a March 12 landslide.

Office of Governor Earl Ray Tomblin

Demolition is set to begin on several homes acquired by Yeager Airport after a hillside slip last spring.

The airport says in a news release that a contractor is scheduled to begin the work on Tuesday.

Office of Governor Earl Ray Tomblin

Former Yeager Airport executive director Rick Atkinson has been named city manager of South Charleston.

Media outlets report Atkinson began his new job on Wednesday, two days after he resigned after 16 years as the airport's executive director.

Yeager Airport is monitoring a creek partially obstructed by debris from a recent hillside slip.

Airport spokesman Mike Plante says the airport opened its emergency operations Center around 8:30 p.m. Tuesday.

Todd Harrell / West Virginia National Guard

Work has begun on shoring up a runway safety embankment at Charleston's Yeager Airport.

Heavy rains had caused some slippage on the so-called overrun area in recent days. The Charleston Gazette-Mail reported that the months-long project got under way on Monday.