McGhee Tyson Airport

McGhee Tyson Airport, or TYS, is a public/military airport in Alcoa, Blount County, Tennessee. It is owned by the Metropolitan Knoxville Airport Authority and is a focus city for Allegiant Air. There is one terminal with 12 gates. There were 106,584 aircraft operations in 2017, 43,598 general aviation, 21,450 air taxis, 20,271 military, and 21,265 airlines. Furthermore, 168 aircraft were based at the airport, 62 single-engine, 32 multi-engine, 35 military, 38 jet, and one helicopter. The airport covers 2,250 acres and has two (parallel) runways: 5L/23R, which is 10,000 by 150 feet (concrete), and 5R/23L, which is 9,000 by 150 feet (asphalt).

Airport history

TYS originally opened in 1930 on 60 acres in West Knoxville, although the city purchased 351 acres in Blount County for the current location in 1935, with the first airline flight on July 29th, 1937. There were two runways in 1939, 4,000 and 5,000 feet. In 1941 a new air control tower was built. In 1951, the U.S. Air Force built several facilities on the field, as well as Runway 5L (7,500 feet, extended to 9,000 in 1961, then again to 10,000 in 2021). In 1959 both that runway and 23R had Instrument Landing Systems installed. In 1965, the first scheduled airline jet flights to TYS took place, Delta DC-9s. A new air cargo facility was built in 1968, and a new passenger terminal opened in 1974. In 1990, Runway 5R/23L was rebuilt to 9,000 feet, while a new 21-acre cargo facility was built in 1992 for FedEx, UPS, and Airborne Express (at the cost of $9.3 million). The passenger terminal was improved in 2000, which included the addition of two new concourses, 12 new gates, new ticket counters, and a restaurant (at the cost of $70 million). In 2002 a maintenance facility was built for Northwest Airlines, their primary CRJ MRO facility. In 2009 new food court was completed.

Airport location

The airport is located 12 miles south of Knoxville. 

Airport facts

  • The airport is named for Charles McGhee Tyson, a U.S. Navy pilot killed during WWI. 
  • The airport is home to the McGhee Tyson Air National Guard Base and an air base for the 134th Air Refueling Wing of the Tennessee Air National Guard. 
  • TYS is a 30-minute drive to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. As such, the terminal is designed with a Smoky Mountains theme, with faux waterfalls and wood carvings of bears. 
  • The FBO at TYS is Truman-Arnold Company, which was brought about by its purchase of the other FBOs at the airport in 2005, Knox Air and Cherokee Aviation. It proceeded to combine both companies under its own name.

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