Tuesday, December 08, 2020

Terry Tripp lands Bombardier Global 5000 at Mountain Empire Airport (KMKJ), Virginia

Brian Burkett, airport manager (left) greets Terry Tripp who piloted the biggest jet ever to land at Mountain Empire Airport.

Terry Tripp grew up in Marion and learned to fly at Mountain Empire Airport. This past week, he was finally able to return to that same airport in the biggest jet ever to land there.

Tripp said he lived in Marion from age 2 and graduated from Marion Senior High School in 1975. He developed an interest in radio-controlled airplanes and flying and began taking lessons from John Greear at Mountain Empire Airport.

Tripp flew his first solo flight in 1982 and this year he marked 25 years with his current employer, NetJets, Inc., returning to Marion for the first time piloting a jet. He lives in Canton, Ga., with his wife, Marsha, a nurse, and their two children, Davis, 17, and Lauren, 15.

“This is the first time I’ve been able to get in here,” Tripp said on Sunday after landing a Bombardier Global 5000. It seats 13 and there were two pilots for the flight, the captain and first officer, and a flight attendant. The jet has a 12-hour range of 5,000 nautical miles and can climb to an altitude of 51,000 feet. It is 96 feet long with a 94-foot wingspan.

Tripp said he worked as a Pepsi route salesman while he took flying lessons. He flew for American Eagle in 1989 and U.S. Air Express, and did aerial photography out of Toledo, Ohio.

He has five different type ratings (different models) in jets and over 16,000 hours TT (total time) since lesson one when he first began to fly.

His favorite part about flying, Tripp said, is “Seeing the world. Seeing what was created, from above.”

The places he’s flown include Europe, Asia, South America, New Zealand, China, Indonesia and the Canary Islands. Tripp has been back for class reunions, but Sunday was the first time, he said, that he’d been able to return home at the controls of a plane.

At 63, Tripp said he plans to continue flying as long as he can keep his medical permission up to date and perhaps retire in five to seven years.

“I’m blessed and pleased with where I am,” he said.

Captain Tripp flies for NetJets Inc., an American company owned by Berkshire Hathaway that sells part ownership or shares of private business jets. NetJets was founded in 1964 as Executive Jet Aviation. It was the first private business jet charter and aircraft management company.

“History was made today [Sunday] as we had the largest jet ever to land at Mountain Empire Airport since the airport was established in 1958...a Global 5000!” said Brian Burkett, airport manager, of the visit. “We’ve had a SAAB 2000, Fokker 27, DC-6, and C-54 in before but they’re all propeller driven.”

Folks commenting on Facebook postings by Mountain Empire Airport (KMKJ) were awed by the sight of the big jet and video of its landing and takeoff.

“Saw that coming in for landing on the way home from Dip Dog. Wow! It was formidable. What an awesome sight. A proud moment for us all!” posted Charlie Teresa Martin.


“Short field take off! Powerful airplane! Good pilot …” posted Art Ramey.

“This was pretty amazing. We were on the interstate while it was landing and got a video of it,” posted Crystal Fisher Brown.

“I couldn’t believe the lift that thing has. I got to see it take off from our farm and it was impressive how fast it climbed,” posted Chris Robertson.

“Those Globals are eye candy!” said Tim Sommers.

“Y’all got some cool stuff visiting your little airport, military, Osprey, and this,” commented Jim Robertson.

Mountain Empire Airport is a general aviation facility serving the towns of Marion and Wytheville, Smyth and Wythe counties as well as the greater region of southwestern Virginia.


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