Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Mercer County Airport

Source: Mercer Co. Airport Website


Mercer County Airport is a small public airport located outside of Bluefield, WV. Construction began on the airport in 1951, and was completed by May 15, 1954, when a dedication ceremony was held to commemorate the opening of the new airport.

In the early 2000s, the crew of an aero-medical group opened up base operations at the airport, which left members of their crew the only living persons to man the airport late into the night and into early morning.  Shortly thereafter, rumors began to circulate and stories were reported that the airport may or may not be haunted.  According to Mark Stokes, who reported the activity to the WVGhosts site in 2006, employees would feel the sense of being watched during the night, although they were the only ones on site.  Cold chills and shivers were commonplace, as were weird banging sounds that echoed through the early morning hours.

Pieces of the wreck. Photo from the NTSB Report
Many who have experienced the phenomena attribute the activity to a plane crash that killed all on board.  At 8:44am, on January 21, 1981, a Cessna 500 Citation carrying two crew members and three passengers crashed, killing all five people.  The plane was owned by the Georgia-Pacific Company, and was taking three employees from the company's southern offices in Augusta, Georgia to Maryland for short business trip. The stopover in Bluefield, WV at the Mercer County Airport was so that they could drop off a public relations employee. According to newspaper articles at the time of the crash, Georgia-Pacific had an office in Bluefield to manage its extensive timber holdings in the Mountain State.

As the pilot attempted to make a landing on Runway 23, weather conditions resulted in the plane overrunning the runway as it slid on slushy, wet snow, striking 3 localizer antennae and a 10ft embankment, before going down over a wooded hill and bursting into flames. It is said that the hill was so steep that rescue personnel had to be lowered down using ropes. Unfortunately, it was too late to save anyone.

Killed in the grisly accident were pilots Bobby Martin and Larry Rodeffer; John P. Maddocks, in charge of public relations for the southern division; and two engineers, Emmit Swearingen and Robert Benner.

Ghost Sightings as told by Mark Stokes to WVGhosts
Full Accident Report from the NTSB
Palm Beach Post (January 22, 1981)
Cumberland News (January 28, 1981)
Airport Website


*Updated on 26 January 2018*

2 comments:

  1. I work at the company next door (I could throw a rock from our parking lot and hit the airplane hangar) and have never heard any ghost rumors. Our shop had an employee killed in an accident once, but I've never heard talk of a haunting. Of course, it might be a topic that an airport would want to keep quiet since it might scare off customers. There have been a couple of buildings burn down on the short entrance road to the airport. Nobody died, though.

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    Replies
    1. Hmm...I dunno. The original story was submitted to the WVGhosts website from a crew member of the medical group and related tales told by other employees. Maybe the rumors never spread beyond those who worked in close contact because there wasn't a lot of substance to them? Thanks for visiting the site and commenting!

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