MELVILLE — Roger Ramey smiled as he stood on the landing strip at the Logan County Airport yesterday and watched the Hercules C-130 aircraft land.

Ramey, who retired after 20 years in the U.S. Air Force and is the senior board member on the Logan County Airport Authority, said watching the airplane land was a "dream come true."

"This is a lifelong dream," Ramey said. "When I was in the Air Force and stationed overseas in the 1970s, I heard through my parents that they were planning to build an airport here. I thought I'd spent enough time in the Air Force that I could come back to Logan and get a job at the airport. It didn't progress as big and as fast as I'd have liked and I spent 20 years in the Air Force and when I got out, we came back to Logan and I got a job with the railroad.

"To have any association with the Air Force, Guard or Reserves, here in Logan, is fantastic. This opens the door to other guard, reserve and other outfits to come in to Logan to do training."

Ramey said the Air Force will do nighttime training at the Logan Airport.

"They were doing the training in Charleston, but the lights light up everything," Ramey said. "Where we're located, there's really not much around here. This is ideal to replicate a forward air base so they can come in and practice doing short landing and takeoff at night. In the future, we're going to have another dirt strip just east of here for them to do the low-level extraction, where they fly over and drop the rear of the aircraft down, deploy the chute and let the stuff come out the back that's inside it."

Ramey said people won't know when the Air Force is doing the training, because everything will be done at night.

"This for nighttime operations," Ramey said.

The airport is built on reclaimed mine lands donated by Natural Resource Partners and several companies mined on the property starting in the 1970s, according to Greg Wooten, with Natural Resource Partners. Wooten said Concord Mining and Geupel Construction both mined coal on the site.

Logan County Commission President Art Kirkendoll said the improvements made to the Logan County Airport could eventually turn into an economic boost for the area.

Kirkendoll said nearly $6 million in federal funds, $154,112 from the state and $154,113 from the Logan County Commission has been put into the airport to get it ready for the combat training. He said the Air National Guard has spent $431,861 on the airport.

"Millions of dollars have been put up here on this reclaimed mine that gives our southern counties something very special," Kirkendoll said. "Now we have a way to get in and out through air travel, but, hopefully, we can springboard this into some economic development. Once you see C-130s landing, you know you have the capacity and the ability to have commercial flights land here, like FedEx and UPS. We know they spend a lot of time going to Charleston to bring packages back, so, hopefully, we can have a distribution point right here.

"That'd be awesome and would create jobs. We're thinking outside the box."

Kirkendoll thanked his commissioners, Willie Akers and Danny Godby, for working to get the airport where it needs to be.

Hundreds attended the event, including Senate President Earl Ray Tomblin and Adj. General Allen Tackett of the Air National Guard.

Tomblin said 1 to 15 years ago, he never thought landing a C-130 cargo plane on the runway would be possible.

He said the Air National Guard will use the airport for training and it could also be used by other units from around the country.

“This project will not only be for the West Virginia Guard, but also for other guard units from around the country who will possibly be using this same airport to do their touch-and-go practices,” Tomblin said. "They'll be able to drop cargo on one of the mountaintop removal sites, while other members of the guard will be able to retrieve it. That's part of their training. These people, when they go into a military zone, they have to be able to land quick, to drop what they need to and to get in and out quickly. This is a perfect airport. It's like they would be landing on around the world, where ever they are needed."