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Columbia Metropolitan Airport

Columbia Metropolitan Airport
USGS aerial image - 21 January 1994
Airport type Public
Owner Richland-Lexington Airport Commission
Serves Columbia, South Carolina
Location Lexington County, near Columbia, South Carolina
Hub for UPS Airlines
Elevation AMSL 236 ft / 72 m
Coordinates 33°56′20″N 081°07′10″W / 33.93889°N 81.11944°W / 33.93889; -81.11944
Direction Length Surface
ft m
5/23 8,001 2,439 Asphalt/Concrete
11/29 8,601 2,622 Asphalt
Number Length Surface
ft m
H1 50 15 Concrete
Statistics (2006)
Aircraft operations 98,239
Based aircraft 100
Source: Federal Aviation Administration

Columbia Metropolitan Airport (IATA: CAE, ICAO: KCAE, FAA LID: CAE) is the main airport for Columbia, South Carolina. The airport lies five miles (8 km) southwest of Columbia's central business district, in Lexington County.

Airlines and destinations

Passenger service is provided by seven scheduled airlines, with commercial cargo service being handled by three scheduled airlines and numerous air freight operators. Two fixed-base operators also serve the Metro facility with various charter flights. The airport maintains a newly dedicated air cargo terminal, the Columbia Airport Enterprise Park (CAE Park) and Foreign Trade Zone #127. Columbia Metropolitan Airport recently completed a $45 million terminal expansion and renovation. Annually, the airport serves more than 1.2 million passengers and processes more than 168,000 tons of air cargo.

Scheduled passenger service

Airlines Destinations
American Eagle Dallas/Fort Worth
Continental Express operated by ExpressJet Airlines Houston-Intercontinental
Delta Air Lines Atlanta [Seasonal]
Delta Connection operated by Atlantic Southeast Airlines Atlanta
Delta Connection operated by Chautauqua Airlines New York-LaGaurdia
Delta Connection operated by Pinnacle Airlines Detroit
United Express operated by Atlantic Southeast Airlines Chicago-O'Hare,Washington-Dulles
United Express operated by ExpressJet Airlines Chicago-O'Hare
US Airways Express operated by Air Wisconsin Charlotte, New York-LaGuardia [begins October 31], Philadelphia, Washington-Reagan
US Airways Express operated by Chautauqua Airlines Washington-Reagan,Charolotte
US Airways Express operated by Piedmont Airlines Charlotte
US Airways Express operated by PSA Airlines Charlotte, Philadelphia, Washington-Reagan

UPS Southeastern Regional Hub

In August 1996, United Parcel Service opened an $80 million Southeastern Regional Hub at the airport. The hub offers next day, second day and third day air service. The buildings encompass 352,000 square feet (32,700 m) and the 44 acre ramp is large enough to hold 22 DC-8 aircraft. The hub can process 42,000 packages an hour. Other major air cargo companies serving the airport include ABX Air and FedEx Express.

Facilities and aircraft

Columbia Metropolitan Airport covers an area of 2,600 acres (1,052 ha) which contains two runways: 11/29 measuring 8,601 x 150 ft (2,622 x 46 m) and 5/23 measuring 8,001 x 150 ft (2,439 x 46 m). It also has a 50 x 50 ft (15 x 15 m) helipad.

For the 12-month period ending December 31, 2006, the airport had 98,239 aircraft operations, an average of 269 per day: 47% air taxi, 38% general aviation, 11% scheduled commercial and 4% military. At that time there were 100 aircraft based at this airport: 60% single-engine, 25% multi-engine, 14% jet and 1% military.


The Airport hosts several services, including a gift shop, the Everett Adams Memorial chapel, a Columbia City Police precinct, restaurants and bars inside the terminal, and an eatery. Free wireless Internet service is provided throughout the airport as well as small number of recharge stations with access to outlets.


The airport was constructed in the 1940 as Lexington County Airport. In 1940 the United States Army Air Corps indicated a need for the airfield as part of the buildup of its forces after World War II began in Europe. The earliest recorded Air Corps use of the airport was when the 105th Observation Squadron began flying Douglas O-38 and North American O-47 light observation aircraft beginning on 24 September.

In 1941, the airport came under formal military control and an immediate construction program began to turn the civil airport into a military airfield. Construction involved runways and airplane hangars, with three concrete runways, several taxiways and a large parking apron and a control tower. Several large hangars were also constructed. Buildings were ultimately utilitarian and quickly assembled. Most base buildings, not meant for long-term use, were constructed of temporary or semi-permanent materials. Although some hangars had steel frames and the occasional brick or tile brick building could be seen, most support buildings sat on concrete foundations but were of frame construction clad in little more than plywood and tar paper.

While under construction, the 65th Observation Group used the unfinished facilities at the airfield between 1 September and 1 December 1941, flying a mixture O-47s, O-49 Vigilant and O-52 Owl light observation planes as part of the "Carolina Maneuvers" in the Fall of 1941 performing reconnaissance and aerial photo duties.

On 8 December 1941, the Columbia Army Airbase was activated with Lt. Colonel Dashe W. Reeves as commander. It was assigned to Third Air Force, III Air Support Command. The 121st Observation Squadron was moved to the new air base from nearby Owens Field, replacing the 105th OS which was sent to Langley Field, Virginia and the Marine Corps airfield at Cherry Point North Carolina to fly antisubmarine patrols. The 121st OS, which had also been flying observation flights as part of the "Carolina Maneuvers", began antisubmarine patrols over the Atlantic coast using O-47s and L-4 Grasshoppers.

The 96th Air Base Squadron was initially assigned as the base host unit for ground support squadrons, being replaced by the 19th Air Base Group in February 1942. The antisubmarine patrol mission was reassigned to Charleston AAF which was much better suited for it, as Charleston was located right on the Atlantic coast. Columbia Army Airfield's mission was changed become a training base for B-25 Mitchell medium bomber aircrews.

In addition to the main facility, Columbia AAB had jurisdiction over several satellite and auxiliary airfields in support of the bomber training mission:

  • Barnwell Army Airfield, Barnwell, South Carolina
  • Congaree Army Airfield, Eastover
  • North Army Airfield, North, South Carolina
  • Walterboro Army Airfield, Walterboro, South Carolina
  • Johns Island Army Airfield, Johns Island, South Carolina

Doolittle Raid B-25Bs aboard USS Hornet
Doolittle Raid B-25Bs aboard USS Hornet

A-26B-15-DL (41-39186)
A-26B-15-DL (41-39186)

One of the earliest units to train at Columbia AAB was the 17th Bombardment Group, which arrived on 9 February 1942. The squadrons of the 17th Bomb group came to Columbia AAB from Pendleton Field, Oregon to fly antisubmarine patrols off the east coast of the United States. When the group arrived in Columbia its combat crews were offered the opportunity to volunteer for an "extremely hazardous" but unspecified mission which ultimately turned out to be the famous Doolittle Raid on Japan. On 17 February, 24 full combat crews from amongst the group were detached from Eighth Air Force and transferred to Eglin Field, Florida where they received intensive training for three weeks in simulated carrier deck takeoffs, low-level and night flying, low altitude bombing, and over water navigation. Contrary to popular belief, the volunteers who made up the crews of the Doolittle Raid did not train for the Raid itself at Columbia.

The 21st Bombardment Group became the B-25 Operational training unit at Columbia on 21 April 1942, until the unit was reassigned organizationally to Key Field, Mississippi on 22 May. The 21st was replaced by the 309th Bombardment Group, which exchanged designations with the 21st, being reassigned from Key Field.

The 329th Bomb Group (and its successor designations) was the major operational training unit (OTU) at Columbia AAB during World War II, providing crew and replacement training in B-25s until 1 May 1944 when the 309th was redesignated as the 329th Bombardment Group. It was subsequently redesignated as the 329th Army Air Force Base Replacement Unit on 1 August 1944.

Known B-25 Groups that trained at Columbia AAB were:

  • 310th Bombardment Group, 16 May-14 August 1942
  • 321st Bombardment Group, 1 August-September 1942
  • 340th Bombardment Group, 20 August-20 November 1942

Beginning in 1943, the 309th performed replacement training, rather than group training. On 1 October 1944, Columbia AAB was reassigned to III Bomber Command, and the training units were again redesignated as the Columbia Combat Crew Training Depot (Medium Bombardment). All sub-bases and satellite airfields were either reassigned or inactivated. On 1 February 1945, Columbia was relieved from assignment to Third Air Force, and was transferred to First Air Force. The base unit was redesignated as the 129th Army Air Force Base Unit (Combat Crew Training Station) (Light), and the mission was changed from training B-25 crews to A-26 Invader Light bombardment crews.

The 319th Bombardment Group (light) arrived at Columbia on 28 February 1945 from Twelfth Air Force in Italy for conversion training from B-25s to A-26s. The group left for Okinawa on 27 April 1945.

Training at Columbia Army Air Base was phased down during the summer of 1945. Several units arrived at the base from overseas to inactivate during September and October. It was inactivated on 30 November and returned to civil authorities, which converted it back to an airport, however, the 350th Bombardment Squadron was assigned to Columbia Metropolitan Airport on 16 July 1947 as part of the Air Force Reserve, but it was never equipped or manned. It was inactivated on 27 June 1949

Columbia Army Air Base historical marker
Bombardment Groups historical marker
319th Bombardment Group historical marker
The Doolittle Raiders historical marker

Columbia Metropolitan Airport (CAE), 1998
Columbia Metropolitan Airport (CAE), 1998

The current terminal was built in 1965 and renovated in 1997. It replaces a terminal built in the early 1950s which, itself, is a replacement of a terminal built several years earlier in the early 1950s.

It has also served as the hub for the abortive low-cost carrier Air South and is currently a hub for United Parcel Service. Since the late 1980s, capital improvements have been undertaken, including a renovated and expanded terminal, a new parking garage (completed in 2003), the lengthening of the runways, and better interstate access.

In 2009 Allegiant Airlines offered low cost servie to Orlando-Sanford International Aiprort and Tampa Bay-Saint Petersburg Clearwater International Airport, yet the service did not last.

On October,31 2010 US Airways Express operated by Air Wisconsin will begin non-stop service to New York-Laguardia international airport.


A Volpar E18S (N47A) crashed February 26, 1971 while attempting to land at Columbia Metro. The aircraft crashed during poor visibility and fog while performing a missed approach killing the pilot and 7 passengers.

A Beech C90 (N711FC) crashed December 20, 1973 while attempting to land at Columbia Metro. The aircraft collided with trees after descending below minimum descent altitude during poor visibility. The pilot and a passenger were killed and another passenger was seriously injured.

A Learjet 60 (N999LJ) attempted to take off from runway 29 of Columbia Owens Field, another airport in Columbia, on September 20, 2008, but crashed into the hillside across a road beyond the end of the runway. Four people died in the crash, the two survivors were musicians Travis Barker and Adam Goldstein. Both suffered major burns, but survived due to the care they received at the Joseph M. Still Burn Center in Augusta, Georgia.. However, Goldstein died less than a year later from an accidental overdose of prescription drugs and cocaine.


  • The airport's two airplane runways measure 8,000 feet (2,400 m) and 8,600 feet (2,600 m) in length, respectively.
  • The airport runways can accommodate an airplane of any size, including the Boeing 747 and the military C-5A.
  • The airport contains its own police department, fire station, and post office (Air Mail Facility.)
  • Decorative and semi-natural ponds bordering the sides of the airport terminal can be used by the airport fire department to put out fires.
  • The Columbia Metropolitan Airport's two moving sidewalks are each 200 feet (61 m) long, the first in South Carolina.
  • The air traffic control tower is 105 feet (32 m) tall.
  • More than 1.1 million passengers travel through Columbia Metropolitan Airport each year.
  • More than 1,400 people work at the airport.

In popular culture

  • An opening scene in the 2006 film Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan was shot in the Columbia Metropolitan Airport terminal although it is labeled as "New York Airport."

The above content comes from Wikipedia and is published under free licenses – click here to read more.

Columbia Metropolitan Airport picture

Location & QuickFacts

FAA Information Effective:2008-09-25
Airport Identifier:CAE
Airport Status:Operational
-81.119528/33.938833 (Estimated)
Elevation:236 ft / 71.93 m (Surveyed)
Land:2600 acres
From nearest city:5 nautical miles SW of Columbia, SC
Location:Lexington County, SC
Magnetic Variation:05W (1985)

Owner & Manager

Ownership:Publicly owned
Owner:Richland Lexington
Address:Po Box 280037
Columbia, SC 29228
Phone number:803-822-5050
Manager:Mike Flack
Address:Po Box 280037
Columbia, SC 29228
Phone number:803-822-5050

Airport Operations and Facilities

Airport Use:Open to public
Wind indicator:Yes
Segmented Circle:No
Control Tower:Yes
Lighting Schedule:DUSK-DAWN
Beacon Color:Clear-Green (lighted land airport)
Landing fee charge:No
Sectional chart:Atlanta
Region:ASO - Southern
Boundary ARTCC:ZJX - Jacksonville
Tie-in FSS:AND - Anderson
FSS on Airport:No
FSS Toll Free:1-800-WX-BRIEF
NOTAMs Facility:CAE (NOTAM-d service avaliable)
Certification type/date:I C S 04/2005
Federal Agreements:NGPY3

Airport Communications


Airport Services

Fuel available:100LLA
Airframe Repair:MAJOR
Power Plant Repair:MAJOR
Bottled Oxygen:HIGH
Bulk Oxygen:HIGH

Runway Information

Runway 05/23

Dimension:8001 x 150 ft / 2438.7 x 45.7 m
Surface:ASPH-CONC, Good Condition
Surface Treatment:Saw-cut or plastic Grooved
Weight Limit:Single wheel: 100000 lbs.
Dual wheel: 200000 lbs.
Dual tandem wheel: 355000 lbs.
Dual dual tandem wheel: 675000 lbs.
Edge Lights:High

Runway 05

Runway 23

Elevation:228.00 ft207.00 ft
Traffic Pattern:LeftLeft
Markings:Precision instrument, Good ConditionPrecision instrument, Good Condition
Crossing Height:60.00 ft54.00 ft
Displaced threshold:0.00 ft1000.00 ft
VASI:4-light PAPI on right side4-box on left side
Visual Glide Angle:3.00°3.00°
RVR Equipment:touchdowntouchdown
Approach lights:MALSR
Runway End Identifier:Yes
Centerline Lights:NoNo
Touchdown Lights:NoNo
Obstruction:, 50:1 slope to clear45 ft tree, 1575.0 ft from runway, 100 ft left of centerline, 33:1 slope to clear
Decleard distances:Take off run available 8001.00 ft
Take off distance available 8001.00 ft
Actual stop distance available 7001.00 ft
Landing distance available 7001.00 ft

Take off run available 8001.00 ft
Take off distance available 8001.00 ft
Actual stop distance available 8001.00 ft
Landing distance available 7001.00 ft

Runway 11/29

Dimension:8601 x 150 ft / 2621.6 x 45.7 m
Surface:ASPH, Good Condition
Surface Treatment:Saw-cut or plastic Grooved
Weight Limit:Single wheel: 72000 lbs.
Dual wheel: 225000 lbs.
Dual tandem wheel: 409000 lbs.
Dual dual tandem wheel: 700000 lbs.
Edge Lights:High

Runway 11

Runway 29

Elevation:229.00 ft210.00 ft
Traffic Pattern:LeftLeft
Markings:Precision instrument, Good ConditionPrecision instrument, Good Condition
Crossing Height:72.00 ft78.00 ft
VASI:4-light PAPI on left side4-light PAPI on left side
Visual Glide Angle:3.00°3.00°
RVR Equipment:touchdown, midfield, rollouttouchdown, rollout
Approach lights:ALSF2
Centerline Lights:YesYes
Touchdown Lights:YesNo
Decleard distances:Take off run available 8601.00 ft
Take off distance available 8601.00 ft
Actual stop distance available 8601.00 ft
Landing distance available 8601.00 ft
Take off run available 8601.00 ft
Take off distance available 8601.00 ft
Actual stop distance available 8601.00 ft
Landing distance available 8601.00 ft

Helipad H1

Dimension:50 x 50 ft / 15.2 x 15.2 m

Runway H1


Traffic Pattern:LeftLeft

Radio Navigation Aids

ID Type Name Ch Freq Var Dist
MMTNDBMc Entire427.0005W16.0 nm
FDWNDBWinnsboro414.0005W22.6 nm
AIKNDBAiken347.0004W32.8 nm
OYINDBOrangeburg226.0005W33.1 nm
EOENDBEnoree278.0005W34.1 nm
CDNNDBCamden263.0005W34.6 nm
SMSNDBSumter252.0004W38.0 nm
BKONDBBarnwell392.0006W38.7 nm
LKRNDBLancaster400.0007W48.9 nm
SSCTACANShaw038X 05W32.7 nm
EDSVOR/DMEEdisto051X111.4005W31.8 nm
CAEVORTACColumbia094X114.7002W5.9 nm
MMTVORTACMc Entire079X113.2005W15.8 nm
VANVORTACVance041X110.4006W43.6 nm



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General Info
Country United States
Latitude 33-56-19.824N
Longitude 081-07-10.342W
Elevation 236 feet

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