Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport - History

History

President Franklin D. Roosevelt approved preliminary funds for site development of the Greater Cincinnati Airport February 11, 1942. This was part of the Army Air Corps program to establish training facilities during World War II. At the time, air traffic in the area centered around Lunken Airport just southeast of central Cincinnati. Lunken opened in 1926 and was located in the Ohio River Valley. Due to its location, the airport frequently experienced fog and was covered in approximately 80 ft (24 m) of water during the 1937 flood. While federal officials wanted an airfield site that would not be prone to flooding, Cincinnati officials hoped to build Lunken into the premier airport of the region.

A coalition of officials from Boone, Kenton and Campbell Counties in Kentucky took advantage of Cincinnati's short-sightedness and lobbied Congress to build an airfield there. Boone County officials offered a suitable site on the provision that Kenton County paid the acquisition cost. In October 1942, Congress provided $2 million to construct four runways.

The field officially opened August 12, 1944, with the first B-17 bombers beginning practice runs on August 15. As the tide of the war had already turned, the Air Corps only used the field until 1945 before it was declared surplus. On October 27, 1946, a small wooden terminal building opened and the airport prepared for commercial service.

The first airplane, an American Airlines DC-3 from Cleveland, Ohio, landed at the airport January 10, 1947, at 9:53am. A Delta Air Lines flight followed moments later. The April 1957 Official Airline Guide shows 97 weekday departures: 37 American, 26 Delta, 24 TWA, 8 Piedmont and 2 Lake Central. As late as November 1959, the airport had four 5,500 ft (1,700 m) runways at 45-degree angles, the north–south runway eventually being extended into today's runway 18C/36C.

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