Aviation has played a role in Appalachia’s history through revolutionizing travel in the mid-1900s, supporting the coal industry and creating thousands of pilots.
As part of an upcoming aviation-themed Inside Appalachia episode, listeners shared with the team about their first or favorite flight memory.
“If you're a coal president or you're in charge of the coal mines or something, I guess you don't want to drive, you know, an hour and a half, two hours depending on what part of the southern coalfield you're coming from,” Andrew York, a native to the state and professional pilot, said. “But you had all these little communities that had their own airport, and it gave them access out of the coalfields.”
Quite a few people Inside Appalachia spoke with had their own memories of flying, outside of the aviation history the team researched. Many of the people are pilots who have had a personal interest in the aviation industry in Appalachia.
“I flew commercially for probably every politician in town, I think,” said Benny Mallory, owner of Mallory Airport in South Charleston.
Mallory has been flying since the mid-50s. He said he has licensed over 40,000 pilots at his flight school.
Terrell Web, a retired Logan County teacher, keeps his plane at the Mallory Airport, although he lives in North Carolina.
“My first flight was in the summer of 1959, and after that first flight I was hooked,” said Web.
He said he held onto that passion for many years and only learned to fly at 40 years old, finishing his instruction at the Mallory Airport no less.
Andrew York was a flight instructor at the Mallory Airport. He learned to fly at the former McDonald Airfield in Logan County, known by locals as ‘Taplin Airfield.’
“That first solo, when you finally get to do it, it’s the first time you ever fly an airport by yourself. There’s only one time,” York said.
Inside Appalachia is still looking for more first or favorite flight memories. If you would like to share your story, record yourself in a voice memos app on a smart phone and send it to InsideAppalachia@wvpublic.org by Aug. 5. The team may use your story in the aviation episode airing Aug. 7.