Jackson County Airport (North Carolina)
|Jackson County Airport|
Cullowhee from the Jackson County Airport
|IATA: none – ICAO: none – FAA LID: 24A|
|Owner||Jackson County Airport Authority|
|Serves||Cullowhee, North Carolina|
|Elevation AMSL||2,857 ft / 870.8 m|
Jackson County Airport (FAA LID: 24A) is a small airfield situated on a ridge about three miles (5 km) southeast of the town of Sylva, the county seat of Jackson County, North Carolina. It is less than 1 mile west of the unincorporated town of Cullowhee, the home of Western Carolina University. The airport is owned and operated by the county. It sits at an elevation of 2,856 feet (870 meters) and covers an area of 147 acres (59 ha). The airport's traffic consists mostly of light single and twin engined private aircraft.
The Jackson County Airport was once a dirt airstrip in the Addie community east of Sylva in the 1930s. The site has been since developed, but it was used as an airport until the 1960s. In the 1960s, a grassy airstrip was opened where the baseball stadium and nursery now stand on the Western Carolina University campus. This airport was in a bad location, as at one end was Forest Hills Road and at the other end were high-voltage power lines. It was also very close to the Cordelia Camp Laboratory School, Cullowhee Creek, Speedwell Road, and later EJ Whitmore Stadium. In the 1970s, a new airport was badly needed by the county. Two sites were suggested: Berry Ridge above Cullowhee and the flat bottomlands at Barkers Creek/Wilmot. In the mid-1970s, the Berry Ridge site was selected, and the airport was constructed by cutting the top off the ridge and filling in the low areas to make room for a hangar, runway, terminal building, road, parking lot, and beacon. The airport was built to be very modern, and the terminal was a great example of 1970s architecture.
The airport was cursed from the time it opened in 1978. The following year, heavy rains caused the end of the runway to slide off. This section of the runway was closed, and no longer poses a threat, it was stabilized and is at the parking lot end of the airport. The airport caused heavy runoff into the Little Savannah, Long Branch, and Pumpkintown communities. In 1990, when under renovation, the Airport's Terminal building was destroyed by a severe storm, and was finally razed in 1999. Today, the hangar houses the terminal and all the planes housed at the airport, and the maintenance shop, which is the remaining portion of the terminal building, stands next to the rubble and debris left behind when the terminal was demolished. The airport had further landslides during the heavy rain caused by the remnants of hurricanes Ivan and Frances in 2004. The airport authority is looking at improving drainage, stabilizing slopes, adding hangars and a new terminal building, and modernizing the airport.
- Open to the public
- Sectional chart: Atlanta
- Control tower: No
- Air Route Traffic Control Center: Atlanta Center
- Runway and Airfield Lights: On from dusk to dawn
- Beacon: White-green (lighted land airport)
- Number of Runways: 1 (Runway 15/33)
- Dimensions: 3003 x 50 feet (915 x 15 meters)
- Surface: Asphalt, in good condition
- Weight bearing capacity: Single wheel, 12500 lbs
- Runway edge lights: Medium intensity
- Runway edge markings: Runway numbers are smaller than standard
Jackson County Airport has no control tower. Pilots communicate amongst themselves to coordinate landings and take-offs via the UNICOM frequency of 123.0 MHz