Cincinnati Municipal Lunken Airport

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Cincinnati Municipal Airport
Lunken Field
Cincinnati Municipal Lunken Airport, 2006-01-25.jpg
Airport type Public
Owner City of Cincinnati
Serves Cincinnati, Ohio
Hub for Ultimate Air Shuttle
Elevation AMSL 483 ft / 147 m
Coordinates 39°06′12″N 084°25′07″W / 39.10333°N 84.41861°W / 39.10333; -84.41861
Direction Length Surface
ft m
3L/21R 3,802 1,159 Asphalt
3R/21L 6,101 1,860 Asphalt
7/25 5,128 1,563 Asphalt
Statistics (2015)
Commercial Operations 31,750
Peak Daily Departures 13

Cincinnati Municipal Airport – Lunken Field (Cincinnati Municipal Lunken Airport) (IATA: LUKICAO: KLUKFAA LID: LUK) is a public airport in Cincinnati, Ohio, three miles (5 km) southeast of Downtown Cincinnati. It is owned by the city of Cincinnati, Ohio.[1] The airport mostly serves private aircraft and the fleets of local corporations. Also, the airport serves a limited amount of commercial flights and is the second largest airport serving Cincinnati after Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport. It is known as Lunken Airport or Lunken Field, after Eshelby Lunken.[2] It is bounded by US Route 50 (historic Columbia Parkway and Eastern Avenue) to the west, US Route 52 (Kellogg Avenue) and the Ohio River to the south, the Little Miami River (which originally flowed through the airfield but was diverted) to the east, and Ohio Route 125 (Beechmont Avenue) to the north. The airport is headquarters and hub for Cincinnati-based public charter airline Ultimate Air Shuttle, serving 5 destinations throughout the eastern United States with 13 peak daily departures. Lunken is also home to small charter airline Flamingo Air and its accompanying aviation school.


Cincinnati Municipal Airport, also known as Lunken Airport, was Cincinnati's airline airport until 1947. It is in the Little Miami River valley near Columbia, the site of the first Cincinnati-area settlement in 1788. When the 1,000-acre (400 ha) airfield opened in 1925 it was the largest municipal airfield in the world.[3]

On December 17, 1925 the Embry-Riddle Company was formed at Lunken Airport by T. Higbee Embry and John Paul Riddle. A few years later the company moved to Florida, and later became the Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. In 1928 the T. E. Halpin Development Co, later the Metal Aircraft Corporation produced 22 of the high-wing Flamingo at the airport.[4] Also in 1928, Aeronca Aircraft Corporation was formed to build cheap light aircraft; the factory building, hangar 4, is still in use. Over 500 C-2 and C-3 aircraft were built here. In 1938, passenger service commenced at the airport, started with American Airlines and Marquette Airlines, served by the newly constructed $172,000 terminal building.[5]

Lunken Airport was supplanted by the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport after catastrophic flooding from the Ohio River and introduction of larger aircraft, which needed longer runways.[6] The flooding prompted the airport's nickname of "Sunken Lunken". During the Ohio River flood of 1937, the airfield and two-story main terminal building at the southwest corner of the airport were totally submerged, except for the third-floor air traffic control "tower". A plaque (which appears from ground level to be a single black brick) on the terminal building, facing the airfield, indicates the high-water mark.[7] In 1964, the FAA designated the airport as a general reliever airport. Also, as business jet travel expanded, the runways were lengthened, which required relocation of sections of the Little Miami River. Additionally, a new parallel runway was constructed to increase takeoff/landing capacity.[5]

Today the old control tower is home to the Lunken Cadet Squadron of the Civil Air Patrol, and is the oldest standing control tower in the United States.[8] The property also contains public recreation areas, including an 18-hole golf course, playgrounds, and walking/biking paths on the levee surrounding the airfield. In 2009, Ultimate Air Shuttle began operations at Lunken with a flight to Chicago–Midway, and has since expanded to 4 destinations including Chicago, New York, Charlotte, and Cleveland. Currently, many Cincinnati-area companies base their aircraft at the airport due to its proximity to downtown Cincinnati, however, most passenger operations take place at Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport.[2] Various proposals have taken place to add air service to the airport, including attempts by Allegiant Air, which started operations at CVG instead, and Flamingo Air, which ended up not starting the flights.[5]

Airport visitors[edit]

In 1927 Charles Lindbergh landed at Lunken and was mobbed by well-wishers.[9] In 1964 a large crowd of fans greeted The Beatles as they flew in to and out of Lunken for their concert at Cincinnati Gardens.[10]

Several U.S. presidents and other dignitaries have arrived via Lunken; On October 30, 2007 Air Force One landed at Lunken as President George W. Bush visited abutting Cincinnati neighborhood Hyde Park for a fund-raiser for Republican Congressman Steve Chabot.[11] On October 22, 2008 Republican Presidential candidate Arizona Senator John McCain and vice-presidential candidate Governor of Alaska Sarah Palin spoke to an enthusiastic crowd of 12,000 in hangar A-10. Gretchen Wilson performed to start the rally. Cindy McCain and Todd Palin were also in attendance. Introducing them was former Republican Congressman (now US Senator) Rob Portman.[12][13] In 2011 the airport served as a backdrop for scenes in the film The Ides of March.[14]


Lunken Airport from Alms Park

Cincinnati Municipal Airport – Lunken Field covers 1,140 acres (460 ha) and has three runways:[1]

  • Runway 3L/21R: 3,802 x 100 ft (1,159 x 30 m) Asphalt
  • Runway 3R/21L: 6,101 x 150 ft (1,860 x 46 m) Asphalt
  • Runway 7/25: 5,128 x 100 ft (1,563 x 30 m) Asphalt

Airlines and destinations[edit]


Airlines Destinations
Ultimate Air Shuttle Charlotte, Chicago–Midway, Cleveland–Burke, Morristown (NJ)


Airlines Destinations
AirNet Express Columbus–Rickenbacker


Top destinations (July 2015 - June 2016)[15][edit]

Rank City Passengers Carriers
1 Chicago, IL (MDW) 5,800 Ultimate Air Shuttle
2 Cleveland, OH (BKL) 4,910 Ultimate Air Shuttle
3 Charlotte, NC (CLT) 4,760 Ultimate Air Shuttle
4 Morristown, NJ (MMU – New York) 4,380 Ultimate Air Shuttle

Total passengers[edit]

Year Total Passengers Change
1929 8,528 Steady
2005 451 Steady
2006 729 Increase
2007 636 Decrease
2008 2,039 Increase
2014 24,490 Steady
2015 31,750 Increase 29.6%
2016 39,550 (YTD) Increase 33.4%



In 2004 the airport had 108,904 aircraft operations, an average of 298 per day: 83% general aviation, 17% air taxi, 1% military and <1% scheduled commercial. 314 aircraft are based at this airport: 62% single-engine, 21% jet, 15% multi-engine and 1% helicopter.[1]


Sky Galley Restaurant has been in nearly continuous operation for decades, and is so named because the first meals served on a commercial airliner (American Airlines) were prepared here.[16] Sky Galley is housed in the original, Art Deco terminal building and has large windows and a patio dining area facing the airfield, allowing wonderful views of small aircraft and corporate jets taking off and landing.[17] Pilots can taxi and park right outside the restaurant.[citation needed]

See also[edit]


 This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the Air Force Historical Research Agency.

  1. ^ a b c d FAA Airport Master Record for LUK (Form 5010 PDF), effective 2007-07-05
  2. ^ a b "Lunken Airport". 
  3. ^ City of Cincinnati – History
  4. ^ Ohio Historical Society. Timeline: a publication of the Ohio Historical Society, Volume 23. 
  5. ^ a b c "Lunken Master Plan". City of Cincinnati. Retrieved 13 November 2015. 
  6. ^ The Airport Page, Boone County, Kentucky
  7. ^ Stulz, Larry (February 14, 2008). "Lunken Airport". 
  8. ^ "Lunken Cadet Squadron 078". 
  9. ^ Federal Writers' Project (1943). Cincinnati, a Guide to the Queen City and Its Neighbors. p. 131. Retrieved 2013-05-04. 
  10. ^ City of Cincinnati website
  11. ^ Wessels, Joe, Air Force One Pays 1st Visit to Lunken, Cincinnati Post, October 30, 2007
  12. ^ Palin, McCain Rally At Airport, USA Today, October 23, 2008
  13. ^ Palin, McCain Address Rally at Lunken Airport, Kentucky Post, October 22, 2008 [1]
  14. ^ John Kiesewetter (29 July 2011). "Area plays big part in movie trailer for Clooney's 'Ides of March'". The Cincinnati Enquirer. 
  15. ^ "LUK Traffic Stats (June 2014 – May 2015)". Bureau of Transportation Statistics. US Department of Transportation. Retrieved 30 August 2015. 
  16. ^ Pilot Getaways Magazine – Previous Issues – Summer 2003
  17. ^ Hoevener, Laura (2010). Adventures Around Cincinnati. Hillcrest Publishing Group. p. 59. 

External links[edit]