Celebrating International Civil Aviation Day

Today marks the 76th annual celebration of International Civil Aviation Day! Since 1996, the aviation industry has taken part in spreading worldwide awareness on December 7th about the importance of civil aviation for social and economic development. On a global scale, air transport provides 65.5 million jobs and generates $2.7 trillion in revenue while safely transporting an average of 12 million passengers per day. Civil aviation is crucial for achieving seamless global supply chains, supporting the tourism economy, and more. 

Here in the Shenandoah Valley, economic development organizations like the Shenandoah Valley Partnership (SVP) help position our area as a prime location for investors and businesses looking to grow and expand. Within the last five years, SVP has fostered nearly $2 billion in new capital investments creating over 2,300 new jobs in our region. By bringing together economic development partners in our area, SVP increases the prosperity and quality of life for everyone that calls the Shenandoah Valley home. One key factor for attracting new businesses to our area is air service with global connectivity as Jay Langston, our special guest writer and the Executive Director of SVP, explains below. 

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Hello Valley Travelers, 

As Executive Director for the Shenandoah Valley Partnership (SVP), I lead efforts to bring together business, government, education leaders, and state-wide strategic partners to improve the region’s prosperity and quality of life. The Shenandoah Valley Airport (SHD) has been a long-time investor and supporter of our mission.

In 1996 the United Nations proclaimed December 7th as International Civil Aviation Day with the purpose of recognizing the importance of aviation to the social and economic development world. From traditional economic development goals to initiatives to retain and attract new talent to the area, SHD is an asset, and their services are instrumental in proving our efforts successful.

Charged with attracting new businesses to the area and helping existing companies expand, SVP touts our local air service that provides seamless access to major markets. One way that we promote the Shenandoah Valley economic development assets is by hosting site selectors for a familiarization tour of our region. Site selectors assist companies in assessing the impacts of business location, expansion, and consolidation decisions. I always say there is a reason we start and end a familiarization tour at SHD. Market access is key in any region’s economic development efforts, and the Shenandoah Valley’s interstate infrastructure, rail lines, third-party logistics providers, and inland port facility are complemented and enhanced by SHD’s air service. We are truly one-stop from the rest of the world.

Site selectors and economic development partners ending a familiarization tour at SHD in 2018.

In addition to commercial air service, SHD provides first-rate facilities and impressive on-site FBO Services that make corporate travel effortless for pilots and passengers. Many of our leading employers, such as McKee and 21 international companies, utilize SHD for these services. Through their successful commercial service and general aviation amenities for corporate travel, SHD fully supports industry in the Shenandoah Valley and makes business investments possible.

Check out this fun virtual familiarization tour we held this summer. First on the list was a welcome from SHD!

SVP recognizes the critical importance of incorporating SHD into travel plans for a positive economic development impact and enhanced quality of life. Our workforce development efforts include focusing on talent attraction and retention. This month we are launching a quality of life website so current higher-education students and potential residents can learn why the Shenandoah Valley is an ideal location to live, work, and play. The benefits SHD provides to Shenandoah Valley residents are immense. With just one stop, SHD passengers have access to hundreds of domestic and international destinations while enjoying a hassle-free travel experience. We look forward to telling this story more through our new platform.

 I’m so very fortunate I am able to promote and share the many reasons I’m proud to call the Shenandoah Valley home on a daily basis, and SHD is one of those reasons.

Sincerely, 

Jay A. Langston, Ph.D.
Executive Director
Shenandoah Valley Partnership 

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By supporting SHD you’re doing more than sharing in the convenience and rich history of what the airport provides. You are contributing to a bright economic future for our area and a thriving quality of life for Shenandoah Valley residents.

New Ways to Connect for the Holidays

Thanksgiving is quickly approaching next week, and for many of us, this holiday season is going to be much different than ever before. While SHD and United are fully prepared to welcome travelers this holiday season with safety measures in place, we also know that many of you may not be able to connect in-person with friends and family. To make the holidays a little brighter, we’re sharing some fun ideas of ways to connect virtually with your family and friends. We would love to see how you use these ideas, so feel free to snap a picture and tag us on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter!

Holiday Cook-Off 2020 Style
One thing we’ve all been doing a lot more of in 2020 is cooking at home! Show off your cooking skills during the holidays by hosting a virtual family cooking event. You can use an app like Recipe Keeper to compile and share favorite family recipes, so no one misses out on traditional dishes. There’s no time like 2020 to learn how to make Aunt Jane’s famous cranberry sauce! Have everyone gather ingredients for their dish and take turns as the highlighted chef showing everyone else how to make the dish.

To make the event even more fun, take advantage of some friendly competition and have contests for fun categories such as best apron, most beautiful dish presentation, the biggest recipe disaster, etc. Then have everyone vote for the winners! Sweeten the deal by awarding gift cards to a favorite local business in their area. A win-win!

Dining From a Distance
Holiday meals are the catalyst for some of our favorite memories. Even if you can’t gather around the table like normal, there are still ways to connect around the dinner table with those you love. Try coordinating a virtual dinner time where everyone can connect virtually while they have dinner together (but separate!). Make sure to keep the Thanksgiving tradition of having every person share what they’re thankful for this year! To add some variety, consider asking everyone to come prepared to share a favorite family memory or find an embarrassing family photo to share.

Let the Games Begin
Who doesn’t love a good game night, especially during the holidays? Thanks to technology, you can still host an epic game with friends and family from your remote location. The free Houseparty app connects up to eight people at once into a video chat “room” and also has a wide variety of games to choose from, including family favorites like Heads Up, Quick Draw, and even karaoke!


A Classic Connection
For friends and family that might not be tech-savvy, try the lost art of a handwritten letter. We’re used to the idea of sending Christmas cards, but this year, try sending Thanksgiving cards that let that special someone know you’re thankful for them. No matter how young or old you are, it’s always a delight to receive a handwritten note or card in the mail! Challenge yourself to write five letters this holiday season to loved ones. The benefits are far-reaching for both the sender and the receiver.

There are also many older adults in nursing homes and care facilities that could use a boost. Programs like Letters of Love offer opportunities to reach out to an elderly pen pal. You can also check with your local nursing home to see if they have an Adopt-A-Grandparent program.

For people looking for a global connection, Postcrossing is a great resource. Through Postcrossing, you can both send and receive actual (not virtual!) postcards from people across the globe. This is also a great family project that brings geography alive for kids and adults alike!

Give Back to Move Forward
The holidays can be challenging under normal circumstances, and 2020 has added an extra layer of stress. One of the best ways to beat the holiday blues is by giving back. Whether it’s doing a favor for a neighbor or donating to a cause, extending kindness to others is a mutually beneficial experience. If you’re searching for ways to give back, many local nonprofits are hosting virtual events and volunteer opportunities. United Way of Harrisonburg and Rockingham or United Way of Greater Augusta are great resources for connecting with the nonprofits in our area.

2020 has been a challenging year for all of us but we hope these ideas will give you some inspiration as you plan your holiday celebrations. Whether it’s time to book your next flight or connect virtually with loved ones, SHD is always here to help. Please feel free to contact me or visit flyshd.com if we can be of assistance.

✈ A SHD Traveler Story for National Aviation Day

National Aviation Day marks a nationwide celebration of the history and development of aviation started by President Franklin Roosevelt in 1939. For those history buffs among us, August 19th also coincides with the birthday of Orville Wright. The Wright brothers are credited with inventing, building, and flying the world’s first successful motor-operated airplane.

National Aviation Day this year feels a bit different for all of us. We know 2020 has been especially challenging for anyone who has had travel plans disrupted as well as those of us in the aviation industry. At SHD we continue to work hard to ensure our passengers feel safe and comfortable flying with us by implementing extra cleaning/disinfection and safety procedures through our SHD Cares initiative.

Since we launched the SHD Cares campaign in early July I have heard from a number of you with many travel-related questions. Our customer service team has also been a great resource to all who have reached out to the airport for guidance. This truly is the beauty of your local airport –  easily-accessible contacts to ask any questions (no matter how big or small) and a dedicated staff that genuinely cares about your travel experience and safety. This is more important now than it has ever been.

If you are on the fence about booking a flight or have some questions about what travel even looks like right now, you might just find some answers below. After getting in touch with us a couple of months ago, Zac and Laura Hittie of Harrisonburg recently flew from SHD to Chicago to visit family. We asked them if they would mind sharing their experience as well as any advice they may have for anyone who may be considering a trip. Here’s what they had to say!

 

“Our most recent decision to travel with SHD was successful because of intentional planning on our part, as well as a commitment to safe and clean practices on behalf of United Airlines (SkyWest) and SHD. After postponing spring travel plans to visit family in Chicago, we did a lot of research on what airlines were doing to keep passengers safe. We identified a potential July travel weekend but waited until a few days before flying to book; we wanted to make sure that we were feeling well (us and our Chicago family) and that the flights would not be too crowded. We booked seats that were spaced out from other passengers (less than a dozen of us onboard). 

At SHD, we were met with friendly screening agents using gloves, masks, and face shields. There was no waiting, no crowds, responsible distancing, helpful staff who answered our questions, and all staff and passengers were wearing face coverings. Upon arriving at ORD (with only carry-on bags), we quickly deplaned and made our way out of the airport to meet our family. It was shockingly uncrowded at O’Hare, so we did not feel uncomfortable in the brief time we were there (arriving & departing). In fact, at one point during our visit to Chicago, we ordered carry-out for lunch and felt more apprehensive about being in that busy restaurant picking up food than we did at any point with our flights. Other than that, we also felt incredibly safe in Chicago, as the residents there are taking masking and other precautions seriously. 

Our advice to those who are trying to make a decision about flying would be to be thoughtful and responsible in your planning. Take precautions to protect yourself such as wearing face coverings, frequent hand washing, carrying pocket-sized hand sanitizer, keeping to yourself/maintaining distance from others, avoid checking bags where possible (less items for you to touch that are touched by others), and have a plan for getting to your destination without delay or coming in contact with others. If you’ve gone grocery shopping or dined out lately, chances are you have been around more people than you might encounter during air travel right now. We feel that flying, especially now while many are not traveling as much, can most certainly be responsible, safe, manageable, and enjoyable, even during this time of uncertainty.  Be well!”

– Zac & Laura Hittie, Harrisonburg 

While travel may be different than ever before, we’re committed to providing passengers with a safe and secure experience. If you have any questions about safety measures or travel in general, we are here to help. Feel free to contact us!

Virtual Travel Destinations You’ll Love

We know your travel plans have been put on hold right now, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still visit some of your top destinations! Virtual tours are providing homebound travelers with incredible experiences. We’ve compiled some of the best virtual tour destinations for your travel pleasure. From diving into the deep blue sea to wandering the halls of the White House, adventure awaits you!

The White House in Washington, D.C.

Have you ever wanted to see the Oval Office or stroll through The White House Rose Garden? Now is your chance! Click here to access virtual tours of The White House, the surrounding grounds, and some of its featured art. This is a tour the whole family will love!

Additional government tours:

The U.S. Capitol
The U.S. Department of Treasury

 

Frank Lloyd Wright Homes in Chicago, Illinois
Chicago is a mecca for famous homes designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, including his own home and studio.  In fact, Chicago features the largest number of Frank Lloyd Wright homes in the country. Now you can explore these iconic homes without ever leaving home! Click here to start your tour. 

Additional Chicago virtual tours:

Adler Planetarium
Millennium Park  

 

Museum of Modern Art in New York City
Since 1929, MoMA has helped art novices, and art lovers discover the joy of modern art. Now MoMA’s virtual doors are open to everyone each Thursday to explore exhibits from the comfort of home. The next virtual tour on Thursday, May 14th, features Neri Oxman, a pioneer of materials science. For a complete listing of MoMA virtual tours, click here.

 

 

Smithsonian Natural History Museum in Washington, D.C.

Nature lovers will be fascinated by these unique virtual tours! From roaming with the dinosaurs to swimming in the deep ocean, you’ll get to explore worlds unknown from the comfort of home! Plus, the Smithsonian Natural History Museum has added virtual tours access to exhibits no longer on display to its roster. Click here to begin your adventure! 

Additional museum virtual tours:

Boston Children’s Museum in Boston, Massachusetts
The Getty Center in Los Angeles, California

 

Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta, Georgia

Get up close and personal with fish, sharks, sea lions, and more at the Georgia Aquarium! Live webcams give visitors a sneak peek at the real-time activities in the various exhibits. It’s not just an interesting and educational experience, but a good resource if you just need a relaxing break! Click here to start watching.

Additional animal-related virtual tours:

San Diego Zoo in San Diego, California
Monterey Bay Aquarium, Monterey, California

 

Yosemite National Park in Central California

Take a stroll through the awe-inspiring Yosemite National Park without having to put on your hiking boots! Yosemite offers some of the best virtual tours we’ve seen so far. Explore the great outdoors at places like Nevada Fall, Tuolumne Meadows, and the Diving Board. If a nature fix is what you’re looking for, this tour is for you! Click here to begin exploring. 

Additional National Park Virtual Tours:

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park in Hawaii County, Hawaii
Crater Lake National Park in Southern Oregon

 

We hope you have fun exploring or revisiting these destinations! As always, we’re here to answer any of your travel questions during this challenging time. Feel free to reach out to a member of our team if we can help in any way. We look forward to welcoming you back to SHD for your next in-person adventure!

 

Aviation Education Resources For All Ages

We know that with more time at home, it can be challenging to find fun, educational activities to keep your students busy. Since we’re always looking for ways to spark interest in aviation, we’ve compiled some of our favorite educational resources for kids of all ages. From virtual tours to hands-on activities for the whole family, there’s something for everyone to enjoy!

 

NASA
Can’t go to space? NASA will bring space to you! NASA’s website has resources for all ages, plus virtual tours, podcasts, educational activities, and more! For comprehensive educational resources about space and flight, NASA  goes above and beyond.

 

 

Redbird Virtual STEM +Lab
Redbird is bringing the love of aviation to your living room with weekly classes taught by expert Greg Roark, Redbird’s Director of STEM education. Classes are geared towards students in 6th to 12th grade and include topics like aviation aerodynamics, aviation weather, and aeronautical decision making. Visit the Redbird website to sign up!

 

Amazing Space
Explorers of all ages will love the online explorations and backyard stargazing guides offered by Amazing Space! Learn more about black holes, planets, galaxies, and sign-up for updates from the Hubble and James Webb telescopes. Amazing Space also offers backyard guides to the galaxy – a perfect way to enjoy the great outdoors!

 

 

Frontiers of Flight Museum
Hands-on learners will love The Frontiers of Flight Museum STEM approved aviation activity guides using simple materials that you can find around the house. From building a bird kite to constructing a catapult launcher, these activities can spark the imagination of young aviation enthusiasts!

 

 

Teacher Planet
Teacher Planet offers a wealth of lesson plans, printable templates, and activities based on the curriculum used in observance of National Aviation Day. You’ll feel like a teaching pro with these teacher-approved resources!

 

 

AvKids
For students in 2nd through 5th grade, AvKids offers a mini-course about aviation science developed by the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA). Kids and parents alike will love the educational components combined with the “investigation” activities that demonstrate aviation principles.

 

 

PBS Learning Media
The next generation of aerospace engineers can get a head start with the PBS Learning Media Aerospace Engineering Collection. Students in 6th through 12th grade can engineer a jetliner, meet other aerospace engineers, delve into the history of flight, and more!

 

 

Discovery/Boeing Age of Aerospace Documentary Series
For an educational twist on family movie night, check out the Age of Aerospace documentary series! From the first flight to space wars, Discovery and Boeing produce intriguing episodes that the entire family will love.

 

Whether your learners are aviation enthusiasts or first-time aviation explorers, we hope these resources will ignite their imagination and open up a world of possibilities. We might be inspiring the next generation of pilots, astronauts, and engineers!

COVID-19 Update

At Shenandoah Valley Regional Airport, passenger safety is our top priority both in the air and in our terminals. We know you are receiving an overwhelming amount of information related to the COVID-19 outbreak, however, we feel it’s important for you to also stay informed on the safety measures in place at SHD and with our partners at United Airlines. Keep in mind, our flights to Chicago O’Hare (ORD) and Washington Dulles (IAD) continue to run as scheduled, and every effort is being made to accommodate passengers in the event that flight changes are needed. Here are the precautionary measures SHD and United Airlines have implemented:

  • SHD has proactively increased our cleaning and disinfecting measures in the Airline and Corporate Terminals for all high-touch areas.
  • Hand sanitizing stations have been available in our terminals for some time, but our staff has increased efforts to monitor these stations and refill immediately when needed.
  • Centers for Disease Control (CDC) infographics have been posted throughout our buildings reminding passengers, staff, and visitors of steps they should take to prevent the spread of viruses such as COVID-19.
  • United Airlines is disinfecting airplanes using high-grade cleaner. Following the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) regulations, if a passenger is exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms, the aircraft is taken out of service and thoroughly decontaminated.
  • United will also start using an electrostatic fogger to disinfect air and surfaces for all international arrivals.
  • It’s important to remember that United Airlines aircraft are equipped with state-of-the-art, hospital-grade air circulation systems that remove 99.7% of airborne particles.
  • To limit person-to-person contact, United flight attendants are wearing gloves during food service and avoiding repeat use of cups. United crews are provided with all necessary supplies to maintain good hygiene while safely serving passengers.

For passengers scheduled to fly between now and April 30th, travel waivers are in effect to allow itinerary changes with no fees regardless of where you’re traveling. Please note, this is in addition to the previous waiver, which waives all change fees for tickets booked between March 3rd and March 31st. For more information about change fee waivers and current United Airlines announcements about travel, click here.

We will continue to keep you informed through our social media channels about the COVID-19 response efforts at SHD and with United, as well as any flight changes, when additional information is available.

Tracking Santa’s Flight Around the World!

This week all eyes will be on the friendly skies for a glimpse of Santa’s sleigh! To make tracking Santa’s flight easier, you can use the same tools we do to keep tabs on the big guy on Christmas Eve. Our friends at the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) are working hard to make sure everyone knows where Santa is during his flight around the world!

It all starts when radar indicates Santa has lifted off from the North Pole and then special satellites 22,300 miles above Earth begin to pick up Rudolph’s bright infrared nose. When Santa makes his way to North America NORAD fighter pilots in either CF-18’s, F-15’s, F-16’s or F-22’s greet him and his famous reindeer to escort the jolly group throughout Canada and the United States.

Because Santa’s sleigh is much faster than the fighter jets, he actually must slow down to be escorted! All of these systems work together to allow NORAD to track his whereabouts for the entire journey. It’s important to note that only Santa knows his exact route, but NORAD has observed that he tends to visit homes only after the children are asleep. Here are more interesting facts about Santa’s flight and how NORAD tracks him:

It’s estimated that Santa’s sleigh weights 75,000 gd (gumdrops) with 60,000 tons of presents. The propulsion is 9 rp (reindeer power) fueled by hay, oats, and carrots. With a climbing speed of One “T” (twinkle of an eye) and a max speed of faster than starlight, Santa’s sleigh remains a marvel of aviation.

A History of Tracking Santa
A happy accident prompted NORAD (formerly CONAD) to start tracking Santa! In 1955, Sears & Roebuck misprinted their hotline number for kids to call Santa. Instead, the phone number rang to the Continental Air Defense Command’s (CONAD) Commander-in-Chief hotline. Children were delighted to start receiving updates from CONAD about Santa’s suspected whereabouts when they called in, and thus the Santa Tracker tradition was born! Now more than 1,250 Canadian and American uniformed personnel and DOD civilian volunteers answer the thousands of calls and emails from children on December 24th and keep the world updated on Santa’s flight!

How to Track Santa
To join in on the fun, visit www.noradsanta.org or download the free NORAD Santa Tracker app for Android and iPhone. You can also contact NORAD directly with all your Santa flight questions at noradtrackssanta@outlook.com or 1-877-HI-NORAD (Call using Skype too!).

All of us at SHD wish you a joyous holiday season and many wonderful memories made with those you love. Thank you for trusting SHD and United/SkyWest to bring your family together during this magical time of year!

SHD Becomes the Official Airport of JMU!

Last week marked two important milestones at SHD! Not only did our new flights to Washington-Dulles (IAD) and improved schedule to Chicago O’Hare (ORD) start last Wednesday, but we have an exciting new partnership that’s making us feel very purple and gold!

On Thursday President Alger announced that Shenandoah Valley Regional Airport (SHD) is now the official airport of James Madison University! As President Alger remarked in his email to all faculty and staff, this partnership is a great example of how institutions of higher education can have an exponential impact on community growth as JMU strives to become the national model of the engaged university. He also pointed out the benefit of improved efficiency, productivity and cost savings for the university when considering total travel costs. As part of our partnership with JMU, you’ll also notice some changes happening in our terminal soon. We can’t wait to show you when the time comes!

A critical driver behind the additional flights and this new partnership with JMU is the work of the SHD Air Service Task Force. Chaired by Dr. Nicholas Swartz, associate dean of Professional and Continuing Education, Task Force Ambassadors work with many JMU programs and departments in addition to tourism, economic development and local higher education partners. Ambassadors represent Blue Ridge Community College, Rockingham County, City of Harrisonburg, James Madison University, Lantz Construction, Shenandoah Valley Small Business Development Center, Shenandoah Valley Partnership, Hotel Madison & Shenandoah Valley Conference Center, and Shenandoah Valley Technology Council.

Ambassadors are focusing their efforts on increasing awareness of SHD air service with one common message: incorporating SHD into your travel plans is critical for positive economic development efforts and enhanced quality of life. Ambassadors communicate regularly with JMU faculty/staff, alumni, travel agencies, event planners, local elected officials, and regional business and community leaders.

As Dr. Swartz explains, “This air service is critical for the future success of the University as we work to attract exceptional students, faculty and staff; engage with our constituents; and pursue JMU’s vision of being the national model of the engaged university.”

Since United/SkyWest started in April 2018, we’ve seen tremendous passenger growth and it’s extremely important that we continue this trend to secure our current level of service and add additional flights and connectivity in the future. We all know shopping with local small businesses during the holiday season (and year-round too) is important to the vitality of our community. Flying local is the same! Every flight taken from your local airport is a vote to the airlines on where travelers prefer to see more service and every vote counts!

Thank you to James Madison University for taking a leadership role in supporting local air service for the benefit of our entire region!  Go Dukes!

 

New United Express Flights Coming to Shenandoah Valley Regional Airport

Weyers Cave, Virginia, September 30, 2019 – The Shenandoah Valley Regional Airport (SHD) and SkyWest Airlines are pleased to announce two new United Express flights between Shenandoah Valley Regional Airport and Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD), as well as schedule enhancements for current flights this December. These changes will continue to make it even easier and more convenient for Shenandoah Valley travelers to fly local.

The new flights to Washington Dulles will provide travelers greater flexibility thanks to a new mid-morning arrival from Washington, a new evening departure, and a new late-night flight back to the Shenandoah Valley. Flights to Chicago O’Hare International Airport will also be enhanced with a mid-morning departure from Shenandoah Valley. These improvements will help ensure maximum connection opportunities at both hubs and more convenient flight times for customers.

The new flight schedule* beginning December 4, 2019 is as follows:
*Flight schedule varies and is subject to change

“Response to our United Express jet service has been very favorable from the community and we are thrilled about this additional flight,” said Greg Campbell, Executive Director for the airport. “The community has demonstrated a commitment to supporting local air service and, as a result, we were able to work with SkyWest to enhance the schedule to better meet the needs of our travelers with a later departure and arrival into the Valley.”

“We’re pleased to bring these additional flights to the Shenandoah Valley,” said Greg Atkin, SkyWest Airlines managing director – Market Development. “Whether you’re traveling for work or with your family, this enhanced schedule provides access to destinations around the globe from two major United hubs; and we encourage every traveler to take advantage of it.”

Since the new United Express flights, operated by SkyWest, started in April 2018 there has been record growth at the Shenandoah Valley Regional Airport, including a 67% increase in passenger traffic year to date compared to 2018.

Customers may book flights immediately at united.com or by calling United Airlines reservations at 800.846.8331. Remember, the best fares are always available at united.com.

 

✈ Celebrating National Aviation Day ✈

Happy National Aviation Day – a day that we honor the history and continued advances in aviation! President Franklin Theodore Roosevelt first introduced National Aviation Day in 1939. The date of August 19th was chosen because it’s also the birthday of Orville Wright, who along with his brother Wilbur, made early advancements in powered flight.

In celebration of National Aviation Day, we’ve done a deep dive into the SHD historical archives to share with you the fascinating history of creating the Shenandoah Valley Regional Airport. To begin the journey, we need to travel back to 1953 to a group of forward-thinking business and community leaders who were set on ushering in new economic growth for the region. At the time numerous small landing strips provided limited air access to the area. Members of the Airport Committee formed by the Staunton-Augusta Chamber of Commerce and led by Dr. A. Erskine Sproul, quickly recognized that an air transportation facility with significant capabilities was key in competing for larger economic development investments.

Knowing the far-reaching impact an airport could have, leaders from Harrisonburg, Rockingham County, Staunton, and Augusta County joined forces to form the Shenandoah Valley Regional Airport Commission in 1955 with Waynesboro joining a few years later. Together they identified Weyers Cave as the most mutually beneficial location for an airport with close access to a major highway and within easy reach of each locality. By March 14, 1957, the Shenandoah Valley Regional Airport Commission broke ground on the site of the $600,000 Shenandoah Valley Joint Airport featuring a 100 by 4,000-foot paved airstrip. (Since that time our runway has been expanded to 150 by 6,002 feet.)

In just three short years, the Shenandoah Valley Airport was dedicated to the community on January 31, 1960 to much fanfare including a planned appearance of radio/television broadcaster and aviation enthusiast, Arthur Godfrey. Local newspapers reported the “largest congregation of automobiles ever assembled in Augusta County” – roughly 8,000 cars jammed on primary and secondary roads trying to get to Weyers Cave. An estimated 5,000 people actually made it to the celebration while Augusta County Sheriff’s Department and State Police had to turn many away who were stuck in the gridlock around the county.

Unfortunately, strong winds and ice disrupted plans for Mr. Godfrey to speak but he did make a quick stop at the airport right before the ceremony was to begin to congratulate leaders on “another milestone in the revolutionary industrial development of the Valley” and remarked on the “nice, beautiful facility”. Mr. Godfrey then hurriedly departed to get back to Leesburg Airport before the storm closed in.

One day later on February 1, 1960, the first scheduled commercial flight by Piedmont Airlines took off from the new airport on a Douglas DC-3, solidifying a new era of aviation for the Shenandoah Valley. The first air service included direct flights to Washington National Airport, now Reagan National Airport, and another flight that connected passengers to Roanoke, VA, Asheville, NC, and the Tri-Cities of Bristol, Kingsport, and Johnson City plus Knoxville in Tennessee.

Dr. A. Erskine Sproul continued to champion aviation advancement in the Shenandoah Valley. In August 1971 he was appointed to the Airport Commission as the City of Staunton representative and later became the Commission Chairman. In honor of his invaluable service, the Shenandoah Valley Regional Airport (SHD) Airline Terminal was dedicated to Dr. A. Erskine Sproul on September 28, 1991.

Continuing the early vision of the founders of the airport, SHD remains dedicated to serving the community and providing a catalyst for economic development efforts in the region. It’s with a strong appreciation of our rich history and commitment to the future of aviation in the Shenandoah Valley that we celebrate National Aviation Day with all of you!