Welcome back: Dover Air Force Base reopens runway

DOVER — The first landing on a rebuilt runway expected to last more than 50 years went flawlessly.

About five minutes later, touchdown No. 2 was just as routine.

A new era in aerial operations at Dover Air Force Base began on a sunny and hot Friday morning.

With a welcoming audience watching, a C-5M Super Galaxy landed about 10:40 a.m., followed by a C-17 Globemaster III to complete the first mission of the day — returning home to Delaware.

Col. Ethan Griffin, 436th Airlift Wing commander, makes remarks at the ribbon cutting ceremony for runway 0119 at Dover AFB on Friday. (Special to the Delaware State News/Doug Curran)

Col. Ethan Griffin, 436th Airlift Wing commander, makes remarks at the ribbon cutting ceremony for runway 0119 at Dover AFB on Friday. (Special to the Delaware State News/Doug Curran)

In February, DAFB’s C-5 fleet left for Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, in New Jersey due to ongoing construction that temporarily limited runway space.

The eight-month deployment will end completely when the remaining C-5 fleet arrives in Dover in the next 10 days or so, depending on scheduled operations.

The aircraft will have a 9,602-foot long 01-19 runway to arrive on and take off from, thanks to a $102 million construction project that will have taken 28 months to complete. The project’s final phase — construction on runway 14-32 and several added taxiways — will end in the summer of 2017 if the schedule holds up.

While “our partners (at McGuire) could not have been more hospitable or taken care of our airman with better class,” 436th Airlift Wing Commander Col. Ethan Griffin stressed that there’s no place like home during remarks to an assembled audience that included airmen, legislators, and others out to show their support.

Out of a three-page list of contributors to the project, Col. Griffin cited 9th Airlift Squadron Commander Lt. Col. Charles Throckmorton for his “humbled and service-oriented approach while serving as project operations advisor.”

Sen. Thomas R. Carper and Col. Ethan Griffin shake hands after cutting the ribbon to reopen runway 01-19. From left are Jeff Wagonhurst, CEO Versar, Inc., Col. D. Scott Durham, 512th Airlift Wing Commander, Sen. Carper, Col. Griffin, Sen. Chris Coons, and Drew Slater. (Special to the Delaware State News/Doug Curran)

Sen. Thomas R. Carper and Col. Ethan Griffin shake hands after cutting the ribbon to reopen runway 01-19. From left are Jeff Wagonhurst, CEO Versar, Inc., Col. D. Scott Durham, 512th Airlift Wing Commander, Sen. Carper, Col. Griffin, Sen. Chris Coons, and Drew Slater. (Special to the Delaware State News/Doug Curran)

Describing the runway as a “national security asset” president and CEO Jeff Wagonhurst of construction manager Versar Inc. noted that “All tasks were performed without a single accident during the project.”

In remarks during the ceremony U.S. Sens. Chris Coons and Tom Carper acknowledged DAFB’s importance not only to Delaware, but the nation and world, and vowed to continue advocating for its support in Washington, D.C.

Reach staff writer Craig Anderson at canderson@newszap.com

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