By John Offredo
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The Rev. Michael King cautiously circles his mid-sized, two-engine plane. He checks the wings, the underbelly of the cockpit, the engine and finally the tail wing for any bird nests.
It's part of a routine checkup he does before every takeoff, and this time Richard Boggs is watching over King's every move through his tinted aviators.
It's a sunny day, and there's not a cloud in the sky. Everything is ready to go. Boggs and King hop into the plane, check all of the instruments, and then the propeller begins to oscillate. Minutes later, they are taxiing down the runway and picking up more and more speed until they're off, flying through the air and heading toward Charleston.
King, who has been a pastor at the First Baptist Church in Spencer for seven years, has been flying planes since 1961. The plane he flies is his third. Boggs is the son of the airfield's owner. They've known each other for a long time, but it wasn't until recently that King began storing his plane in the hangars of the airfield's 180-acre property.
In fact, if it weren't for the airfield, King said he wouldn't have bought another plane.
The Boggs Airfield, which sits atop a small mountain on the outskirts of Spencer, is a sight to behold from the sky. Surrounding the elevated runway are small dots of housing, a few fields, some industrial area, but the thing that catches the eye is the sheer number of hills surrounding the flat ground.
The airfield is the brainchild of Harry Boggs, Richard's father. The airport is privately owned and funded entirely by the Boggses, which operate a natural gas business. Harry built the airport in the early part of 2000, but Richard now runs the operations.
The family began operating a club airport in 1975, but soon realized that its runway was too small for the two-engine planes that were used by many businesses.
"If we wanted to expand our community, we were going to have to do something different," Richard said.
It was then that an airport authority was formed, with the task of finding some land to build an airfield that could host business flights. Despite locating some promising spots, the idea did not come to fruition.
In 1989, Richard's brother Greg Boggs found the current location for the airfield. In 1997, it was another small mountain in the middle of the hilly landscape surrounding the town. The Boggses bought the property and began work.