An outdoor education center and an airshow are coming to the Eastern West Virginia Regional Airport with a $300,000 contribution from the Berkeley County Council.
The airshow is set for August 26 and 27 of next year to recognize a century of flights at Berkeley County’s Shepherd Field. Flights from West Virginia’s oldest airport began in 1922 and officially opened the following year on June 17, 1923. It has the state’s longest runway at nearly nine thousand feet.
Airport CEO Nic Diehl says the event could revive a string of airshows in the region.
“In 2005 through 2012, I think we had a total of six shows, three of them on the civilian side of the airport and three of them on the military base side of the airport,” Diehl said. This will be back to our roots on the civilian side of the field. We anticipate about 50,000 people over the course of the two day event.”
The airport’s education center will include an observation area for visitors to watch aircraft fly in and out of Shepherd Field, as well as activities for children. The center is set to be open in the spring of next year.
The funding for the airport was allocated from the county’s Quality of Life fund. A release from Berkeley County Council says total budgeting for the airport has recently increased to nearly $3.5 million.
Diehl said these projects are a way to help expose locals to aviation and help continue what’s becoming a growing field in the region.
“We have over a $300 million economic impact on the Eastern Panhandle annually. There are over 2,000 people employed on the field here. And we continue to see growth,” Diehl said.
The contribution comes as other investments are being made in the Eastern Panhandle’s flight industry. Shepherd University is set to launch an aviation program through their business school next fall.