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South Carolina Opens Aviation Facility
GREENVILLE, SC A vision that started in the late 1990s came to fruition as the South Carolina National Guard (SCNG) held a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new Army Aviation Support Facility (AASF) at Donaldson Field on Feb. 19.
The SC AASF is situated on 34 acres adjacent to Donaldson Field at the South Carolina Technology and Aviation Center (SC-TAC) in Greenville. The new facility will house the SCNG’s UH-72A Lakota and CH-47D/F Chinook helicopters, while the AH-64 Apache and UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters will stay at the AASF on McEntire Joint National Guard Base in Eastover.
The Army National Guard recently received the new UH-72A Lakota, and unlike previous helicopters, the Lakota must be maintained by Federal Aviation Administration certified Airframe & Powerplant technicians. The South Carolina Guard, in partnership with Greenville Technical College, will train and certify Army Guard helicopter maintainers at the SC-TAC.
“With the expertise we have, we can bring those education and training resources to bear in training the Guard and all citizens,” says Dr. Keith Miller, president of Greenville Technical College.
The new AASF at Donaldson Field will enable the SCNG to maintain readiness of its aviation Soldiers and units while providing increased coverage of the state in response to both natural and man-made disasters.
“Make no mistake, the goal for this is to not be just the center, but the epicenter of the aviation universe,” says Rep. Trey Gowdy, who represents the 4th District, where the facility is located.
This new facility will sustain approximately 75 full-time military technicians, along with more than 200 traditional Guard members.
“From an economic development point of view, we need to celebrate this as if it was a major achievement by the county council to bring new business in—because it is,” says Sen. Lindsey Graham. “From an economic development point of view, this is a good day for Greenville. From a military point of view, this has been long overdue.”
Brigadier General (Ret.) Butch Kirven, a Greenville County councilman, called this an "economic engine." He adds, “This is a good news story. There’s more to follow.”
“With the support of our congressional leadership, state leadership, Greenville County leadership, this was possible,” says Major General Lester Eisner, deputy adjutant general of the South Carolina National Guard.
“This building will become greater than an Army Aviation facility,” he adds. “What we see is an opportunity.”