Premier air facility for East Tennessee, McGhee Tyson Airport daily handles commercial airline, air cargo, military aviation and general aviation air traffic. With parallel 9,000 feet runways, McGhee Tyson Airport can accommodate any size aircraft in today's inventory. Located 12 miles south of downtown Knoxville, the airport occupies more than 2,000 acres of land with space for additional air cargo facilities or economic development. The airport's name came from Charles McGhee Tyson, a handsome, Princeton-educated, only son of a railroad heiress and a textile magnate. His father, Lawrence Davis Tyson, was famous for fighting Geromino’s Apaches and becoming first the military governor of Puerto Rico and, later, Speaker of the Tennessee House of Representatives. McGhee was at loose ends when World War I broke out, working at his father’s company and helping to design the golf course at Cherokee Country Club. But, he followed his father in enlisting and attended flight school. While the elder Tyson, now a brigadier general, was leading a brigade in Europe, McGhee was dropping mines in the North Sea to fight the U-boat threat. Details have never been clear, but Lt. McGhee volunteered for one more mission before going on leave to London. He was killed when his plane went down in a thick North Sea fog in October 1918. His heartbroken mother donated the land for a new airport, with the stipulation that it be named for her son, the aviator. McGhee Tyson Airport completed a $70 million renovation and expansion project of its main terminal and concourses in 2000, adding new concourses, gates, ticket counters, elevators and escalators, administrative offices, passenger loading bridges, restrooms, gift shops and the first Ruby Tuesday airport restaurant in the nation. The addition of an 115-foot indoor mountain stream added a natural element to a beautiful new facility that is serving Knoxville and East Tennessee well into the next century. Many luminaries have flown into and out of McGhee Tyson, among them, the much-photographed Elvis Presley, who flew in for a concert April 8, 1972. McGhee Tyson Airport has 8 major airlines serving 19 non-stop destinations including Atlanta, Dallas/Ft. Worth, Orlando, Miami, New York, Chicago, Denver and Washington D.C. With more than 120 arrivals and departures each day and more than 4,000 seats available, McGhee Tyson Airport is one of the most convenient and accessible regional airports in the nation.
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