Smyrna Airport currently operates as a joint use training facility with the Tennessee Army National Guard helicopter unit, AASF#1 (Army Aviation Support Facility #1). AASF#1 operates 60 helicopters with 300 full time National Guard personnel. The airport also serves as a C-130 training facility for the 118th Air Wing of the Air National Guard from Nashville as well as C-141 training from Memphis Air National Guard. Smyrna Airport also serves as a hurricane evacuation point for military facilities along the Gulf and East Coasts.
The Tennessee Army National Guard leases part of the airport to maintain the Grubbs/Kyle Training Center and 24 different units, 1,270 assigned National Guard personnel, 162 of which are full time, and numerous aircraft.
New construction from 1997 includes a multi-story barracks / lounge / laundry located at the Grubbs/Kyle Training Site in Smyrna. This project will consist of a multi-story barracks constructed of concrete block units with brick veneer, a metal standing seam roofing system with steel girder supports for concrete floors all supported by a foundation as appropriate. The location of the barracks is such that this facility will require demolition and disposal of existing World War II buildings which were constructed in 1942-1945. These facilities are grossly dilapidated and obsolete for modern usage.
This project will be a new facility to support the Joint Training of soldiers and to serve as a multi-functional service/agency barracks type facility which provides a full service housing for 80 students, cadre and instructors for the Tennessee Military Academy. TMA will support 80 students with provision of expansion to 160 students as part of the design and will support cadre members as well as instructors to include the command staff.
The barracks will be utilized by both military soldiers and provide temporary housing to Middle Tennessee State University students during normal school semesters with the room fees going towards the electrical costs for the barracks by both M.T.S.U. and military students alike. This joint usage is expected as the Middle Tennessee State University aerospace program as well as the Tennessee Army National Guard aviation community's forecast growth at the Smyrna Airport.
In addition, these barracks will house the students which will attend MOS and military education schools which are more common place at stateside guard sites with the current force reduction/base closure of TRADOC schools as well as a more economical means of educating soldiers organic to the National Guard and Active Components with a joint service school concept in place. In addition, these barracks can provide housing for ROTC, Civil Air Patrol and other programs which boost both the focus of the Tennessee National Guard and the community support from the guard as well as provide an untapped new human resource for recruiting into the National Guard and other components as well.
As of June 2001 only half of the Tennessee Army National Guard's 16 Cobra helicopters were airworthy. But a year earlier, only one of the Cobras was operable, and soon the all the Cobras will all be gone as the National Guard, following the lead of the Department of the Army, continues to phase out the Cobra. R Company of the 4th Squadron, 278th Armored Calvary Regiment has been slated for OH-58D helicopters since 1998. But the Cobra pilots have yet to see one on the Smyrna flight ramp.
Smyrna Airport was constructed in 1942 and was home to the Army Air Force Combat Crew School which trained ferry troops to fly the B-24 and B-17 aircraft. The base was deactivated in July 1947 with the end of World War II, then reactivated in August 1948 by the newly reorganized United States Air Force. It was redesignated Smyrna AFB in 1948, then renamed Sewart AFB on 25 March 1950, in honor of native Tennessean Allan J. Sewart, who died in a bombing mission over the Solomon Islands in November of 1942. The 314th Troop Carrier Wing began flying out of Smyrna, and by 1958 it was the only operational C-130 base in the United States.
On Jan. 15, 1959, the 463rd Troop Carrier Wing moved to Sewart AFB, Tenn. During September 1961, the wing supported the crisis in Berlin. Then, on Oct. 1, 1962, the wing was redesignated as the 463rd Troop Carrier Wing (Assualt). Immediately, the wing deployed to support the Cuban Missile Crisis (October-November 1962). The wing moved to Langley AFB, Va., on July 1, 1963.
On December 9th, 1965 the Department of Defense announced the closing of Sewart Air Force Base. At the time of the announcement, Sewart had over 500 civilian employees and 6,000 military personnel. The airport served many other Troop Carrier Wings until 1970. On March 9, 1970, the last Hercules C-130 left the runway in Smyrna, and the base officially closed on March 31st. When the base was deactivated it was transferred to a civilian operation. Ownership of the base was transferred to the Army Corps of Engineers and ultimately to the Smyrna/Rutherford County Airport Authority.
The Metropolitan Nashville Airport Authority assumed control until May 15, 1991 at which time the property was transferred to the Smyrna/Rutherford County Airport Authority. The Airport Authority then began operation Rebuild/Renew which was designed to renovate the vintage air base and increase the economic base of the community as well as carry the Airport and surrounding transportation system into the 21st Century.
Smyrna Airport is designated a General Aviation/Reliever Airport. That means it is a public airport offering services to all aviation except scheduled air carrier operations. It has two runways. The primary runway is 8,037 feet long and is equipped with an Instrument Landing System, and the second runway is 5,546 feet long. The airfield is equipped with a complete lighting system with intensity sensitive runway lighting.
Located twelve nautical miles south of Nashville Airport, Smyrna Airport is the "reliever" airport for Nashville. With over 1,700 acres, Smyrna Airport is the third largest airport in Tennessee and the busiest general aviation airport in Tennessee. Smyrna Airport users have, within ten miles, access to rail and three interstate systems which transverse Middle Tennessee. Smyrna Airport is located in the geographic center of Tennessee and more importantly the center of the eastern United States. Eighty percent of the United States population lives within a 700 mile radius of Smyrna. These factors influence the location of industry in the Smyrna area.
Smyrna Airport is owned by both the Town of Smyrna, at 40%, and the County of Rutherford, 60%, and is governed by the Airport Authority. The Airport Authority is composed of five members who are appointed to administer, operate and otherwise manage the Smyrna Airport and to carry out its mission.
The Smyrna Airport will become the site of a European freight hub that will later be expanded into tourism passenger service for chartered and packaged tours. Planestations, Inc., a subsidiary of London-based development firm Wiggins Group PLC, will develop the project. The airport expansion will include construction of Planestations' corporate headquarters and an initial new freight terminal, followed by two additional new buildings. One runway will be extended from 8,000 feet to 9,300 feet to accommodate freight and passenger planes.
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