Arriving in Charleston by air, travelers land at Yeager Airport—a facility located 10 minutes from downtown that is a remarkable feat of engineering named for an even more remarkable man. First known as the Kanawha Airport, it was built in the late 1940s by shearing off mountaintops and filling in adjacent valleys. In 1986, the terminal facilities were completely renovated, and the airport was renamed after General Charles S. "Chuck" Yeager, World War II flying ace and the first man to break the sound barrier. Yeager happens to be a native of Lincoln County, located about 30 miles southwest of Charleston. Yeager Airport provides service from six commercial air carriers, has private aviation facilities, and is home to the 130th Tactical Airlift Group of the West Virginia Air National Guard. In 2004 Yeager Airport announced the addition of Independence Air, offering low-cost service to Washington D.C.'s Dulles airport.
Arriving by car, visitors approach Charleston via three major interstates, 64, 77, and 79, which intersect near downtown. Charleston is one of 13 cities in the nation where three interstates merge. I-64 links the Midwest through Charleston to Virginia's eastern seaboard. I-77 links the Great Lakes area through Charleston to South Carolina and north to Cleveland. The West Virginia Turnpike, which originates in Charleston and ends at the Virginia border near Princeton, has been incorporated into the I-77 and I-64 systems. Interstate-79 runs from Erie, Pennsylvania, where it connects with the New York throughways, through Pittsburgh, and terminates in Charleston. Amtrak offers rail passenger service.
Charleston and the Kanawha Valley have a reputation of being cosmopolitan and compact. For those who live and work in the city, it is 10 minutes to work from most neighborhoods and 15 minutes to the airport. A bus system provided by the Kanawha Valley Regional Transportation Authority serves the entire valley from the western end at Nitro to the eastern end as far as Montgomery, 26 miles east of Charleston. Buses in downtown Charleston are designed as replicas of old fashioned trolleys and shuttle passengers between major downtown sites.