In just a matter of weeks, there will be a chill in the air while you are drinking your morning coffee, the leaves will be starting to show some color, and the waters of the Atlantic Ocean will be a little colder. So, while your favorite summer vacation spots are winding down for the year, the best fall locations are just starting to heat up.
Charlotte is just one of the major cities you can fly to from Yeager Airport in under an hour. You might be thinking to yourself, “Charlotte, for a fall trip?” The Queen City might not be the first spot on your list for best fall locations, but we are here to convince you to make the short flight down to the southern part of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
American Airlines boarding a plane at Yeager Airport to Charlotte Douglas International Airport.
A Fall Oasis of Fun
First up on the list of things we would suggest is the U.S. National Whitewater Center. Wait, what? West Virginia already has world-class whitewater rafting. Why go to North Carolina for this? Let’s look at everything you can do at the whitewater center.
- Whitewater Rafting/Kayaking on the world’s largest manmade river.
- Navigate a rope course over the river.
- Jump from a 100 ft. platform.
- Ice skating
- Climb the world’s first deepwater solo climbing complex.
- Bouldering, top-rope, and sport climbing on one of the largest outdoor climbing complexes on the East Coast.
- Flatwater Kayaking
- Mountain Biking
Just looking at the Whitewater Center’s pictures has us ready to hop on the next flight to CLT. You can buy one or two day passes to this oasis of fun, or you can purchase single activity passes. Still not convinced, let’s look at some more things to do in the Queen City.
Overlooking the Charolette Skyline, one of the best fall destinations.
A Climbing Destination
Want to bring the outdoors inside? Inner peaks climbing is a massive indoor rock-climbing park for first-time climbers and the most advanced climbers. Inner Peaks has a great video on their website that shows everything you can do and then some. We will let the video speak for itself.
Charlotte is jam-packed full of things to do; we could never list them in all in just one article. Here is a list of items in Charlotte that are fun but you may have forgotten about:
The list could go on with all the fantastic restaurants and nightlife in Uptown. That could be a trip all on its own. The Discovery Place is a great place to take the entire family. The little ones will be busy all day there, exploring everything from wildlife to designing forts.
So, if the Queen City has never been on your radar for one of the best fall locations, we hope this article at least piques your interest. If you want to check out more of the exciting things to do in the Charlotte area, their visitor website is easy to navigate and provides links to all the attractions, restaurants, breweries, nightlife, and more.
We hope to see you hopping on a flight to CLT soon!
Yeager Airport is going to have nightly closures of its runway (RWY 5/23) starting on July 5th through November 22nd. The runway is also going to be closed on eight Saturdays. The runway closures are part of an $8.7 million runway rehabilitation project.
The rehabilitation project includes
- Replacing the centerline light system with a new LED system
- Light installation at Taxiway C
- Milling and paving the 30-foot center (keel) of the runway
- Improving the runway profile to remove dips that do not meet FAA standards
Construction workers paving runway 5/23 during phase 1 of the runway rehab project.
This project is being 100-percent funded by the FAA and does not require a local match.
The Saturday runway closures are:
- August 6-8
- August 13-15
- August 20-22
- September 10-12
- September 24-26
- October 1-3
- October 8-10
- November 19-21
“I know these closures could impact some of our passengers travel plans,” said Yeager Airport Director and CEO Nick Keller. “But the work being done is necessary to make sure CRW is set up for success as the airport continues to grow.”
There are two contingent Saturdays, for runway closures at Yeager Airport, built into the schedule to accommodate for bad weather.
- Contingent Saturday #1 October 15-17
- Contingent Saturday #2 October 22-24
On the weekend of the Saturday closures, the runway will be shut down starting at 11PM on Friday and will reopen Sunday at 7am.
Early Pilots in Aviation
When you think back to the earliest pilots in aviation, your mind quickly goes to two names. Orville and Wilbur Wright. And rightfully (no pun intended) so. 117 years ago, the two brothers piloted the first airplane near Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. And thus, North Carolina got the title of “First in Flight.”
West Virginia also has a seat at the table when it comes to the early pilots in aviation. The mountain state is home to a pioneer in aviation. Paul Peck was a world record holder, the first pilot to transport U.S. Mail, and one of the first U.S. Military aviation instructors. And he was also from West Virginia.
Who was Paul Peck?
Born in 1889 in Ansted, West Virginia, Peck grew up in Hinton. As a kid, Peck took an interest in cars and liked to work on their motors. His love of machinery, specifically engines, led him to the skies.
In 1911, just seven years after the Wright Brothers’ first flight, Peck took his first flight lesson at 22-years-old. He would go on to learn how to fly in just seven days and became the 57th pilot to be licensed by the International Aeronautics Federation. Peck is often thought of as the first pilot in West Virginia.
Two weeks after earning his pilot’s license, Peck set a world speed record in Washington, DC covering 24 miles in 25 minutes. Peck would go on to do many other firsts as a pilot.
- The first pilot to carry U.S. Mail via airplane
- The first pilot to fly over the U.S. Capitol (set the speed record)
- Set an endurance record in Boston, flying for four hours, 23 minutes, and 15 seconds
- One of three officers chosen by the War Department to learn to fly under Glenn H. Curtiss
- An instructor at the nation’s first military aviation school
Peck was well known in his day for being able to fly extremely well in stormy weather, once setting a world record during a hailstorm. However, a storm ultimately led to his death.
Peck’s Final Flight
Peck’s final flight was in 1912, just one year after becoming a pilot. Peck was representing the United States in the International Gordon Bennett Trophy Race in Chicago. On a windy and stormy evening before the race, Peck took off on what would be his final flight. During his ascent, the motor on Peck’s plane came loose. His plane went into a steep and rapid descent and Peck was unable to pull up before the plane hit the ground. He was 23 years old when he died.
Why then, with all of these accomplishments, is Peck’s name not up there with the Wright Brothers, Lindbergh, and other early pilots in aviation? Good question. Peck died only one year after he started flying. You could argue that he did not fly long enough to achieve name recognition. However, you could also argue that given all of the accomplishments listed above were all done in less than a year, Peck’s name should be much more widely known. Especially in his home state of West Virginia.
And for what it is worth. In 1923, 12 years after Paul Peck passed away, a man by the name of Charles Yeager was born in Myra, West Virginia. So, I would say the mountain state definitely has a seat at the table when it comes to pioneering modern aviation.
Information for this article was gathered from the Charleston Gazette and West Virginia Tourism.
What a difference one year makes. This time last year, most of us were still working from home, figuring out how to work TikTok, and canceling all of our vacation plans. Travel numbers at Yeager Airport were close to single digits, and no one was sure when or if this pandemic would come to an end.
How empty was CRW on Memorial Day Weekend 2020? Let’s look at the passenger numbers from 5-27 through 5-31 of last year.
- 5/27 – 80 passengers
- 5/28 – 90 passengers
- 5/29 – 96 passengers
- 5/30 – 95 passengers
- 5/31 – 83 passengers
CRW’s 20 minute parking lot sits mostly empty in March of 2020. Only ticketed passengers were allowed in the terminal during the lockdown.
To give you a reference point, CRW averaged between 700 and 800 daily passenger’s pre-pandemic. One (long) year and a whole lot of vaccinations later, and the numbers for MDW 2021 were a sight for sore eyes.
- 5/27 – 741 passengers
- 5/28 – 824 passengers
- 5/29 – 812 passengers
- 5/30 – 851 passengers
- 5/31 – 801 passengers
Travel Numbers are Coming Back
The passenger numbers from the holiday weekend align with what we have been seeing at CRW over the last few months. And we are expecting our passenger numbers to keep rising. Starting June 6th, American Airlines’ route from Charleston, WV to Philadelphia, PA, is returning. With that flight back in operation, all of the routes that were temporarily paused at CRW because of COVID-19 are back in operation.
Low cost air carrier Spirit Airlines is helping travel numbers bounce back at Yeager Airport
Travel Numbers Bouncing Back Quicker Than Expected
There are many different answers to that question. At the beginning of the pandemic, experts predicted countries with large domestic markets would bounce back first, and the United States has one of the biggest domestic markets in the world.
Airports across the country, including CRW, have also spent tons of time and money ensuring passengers can travel safely. CRW installed UV-C filters, cleaned out every HVAC duct, had round-the-clock cleaning of high touch surfaces, just to name a few.
The heightened cleaning, along with masks and a quick vaccine rollout, has lead people back to the skies. And CRW is here for it!
Are COVID Measures Still in Place at CRW?
Although the federal mask mandate was eased, the mandate still states that face coverings must be worn in airports and airplanes. Our passengers at CRW have done an incredible job wearing masks throughout the pandemic, and for that, we thank you.
Spirit Gate Agent wearing her mask while checking travelers in.
It has been a long road to get back to some normalcy. We are happy to see you and your families again at CRW. And if you are waiting for your flight and want to show us some of the TikTok dances you learned last year, we would love to see those too!