MARTINSBURG, W.Va. --
A comprehensive airfield lighting upgrade is underway at Shepherd Field, Martinsburg, W.Va., and is scheduled for completion this fall.
The 167th Airlift Wing and the Eastern West Virginia Regional Airport (EWVRA) implemented a Military Construction Cooperative Agreement to secure the approvals and funding needed to overhaul the aging lights on the military and civilian side of the airfield.
Light emitting diode (LED) taxiway and runway edge lights, landing zone lights, precision approach path indicator lights and associated cable and conduit installation, are among the planned improvements.
Senior Master Sgt. Alan Romero, the airfield manager for the 167th Operations Group, said groundwork for the project began in 2016 soon after the wing convert- ed to the C-17 Globemaster III aircraft.
“We began looking at a way to superimpose an assault landing zone here so [aircrew] could get some of their night work done here,” Romero said. “The air- port authority was also considering their electrical rehabilitation project, so we were able to include all of that in one big project.”
Romero and his team need to visually shrink the airfield’s 8,815 feet by 150 feet runway to 3,500 feet by 90 feet so the pilots can practice assault, or short-field, landings and take-offs for contingency operations.
Markings were painted on the runway for daytime training and mobile lighting kits have been employed for night time training. However, the mobile kits require extra manpower to set them up for each training event, they wear out over time and they create potential for foreign object debris on the airfield.
As part of the airfield lighting upgrade, lights are being embedded in the run- way to mark the assault landing area. The embedded lights will be controlled by the flip of a switch in the air control tower, reducing manpower needed on the ground for the night flying training. The lights will also be brighter improving visibility of the airfield for the pilots.
“The safety of the aircrews is what it boils down to. If they need to execute a real world contingency landing and take-off on the 3,500 by 90, they have the right tools and equipment to practice here so that they can do it in the real world safely. And everyone can come back, go out that gate and go home and hug their families,” said Romero.