Cincinnati Aviation Heritage Society & Museum

Preserving aviation's past for future generations.

Acres Once Roamed By Indians Now Airplane Port;
Lunken Field Is To Rank With Best When Developed

The Enquirer, Cincinnati, Wednesday, September 26, 1928

Where once Indians roamed on spotted pintos, where later tall corn stuck its browned tassels into frost laden air while its firm stocks swayed golden ears of corn in a Miami Valley breeze; where since polo ponies have sensed victory, is today the municipal airfield of Cincinnati—Lunken Airport.
The first drawings appearing in the Cincinnati Enquirer, showing the proposed development of the field which eventually will be the largest commercial landing field for airplanes in the country, approximately 1,000 acres were made public yesterday by Colonel C. O. Sherrill and Robert N. Olin, Service Director under whose guidance the airport will be built and the various buildings erected.


Elaborate arrangements for the airport have been worked out by Colonel Sherrill and Mr. Olin who has made a study of airports in Conjunction with Edward H. Kruckemeyer and Charles R. Strong, architects for the Administration Buildings, hangars and other airport accessories will be asked for. It is hoped that the airport will be ready for dedication next year in time for the completion of the air races in Cincinnati. The Administration Building which is to be the center structure for the group and from which additional buildings will radiate will be two stories high. On top of the building will be the glass encased office of the operation officer, who will have a wide range of the field from his lofty position. In his office, will be built a public address system which will enable him to call to any pilot on the field.


The Administration Building will house the offices of the municipal officer in charge of the field, as well as the offices of the Embry-Riddle Company, present commercial operators at Lunken Airport and largely responsible for the development of aviation there. To the left of the administration office proper will be the waiting room for aircraft passengers, and from this room will run a covered steel structure which will enable passengers to walk to the ships immune from the elements.


Sherrill and Mr. Olin, who, in the plans of the building have included space for a radio room, light control rooms and a weather bureau room. Here all information necessary to fliers can be had on instant inquiry.
Ample lighting facilities will be provided by the installation of two lamp changing floodlights. These flood lights, a new development in aviation will carry one ten-thousand watt light each, and in case one light should go out another one automatically moves into place. There is but a two degree angle to the light, giving the pilot plenty of light on the ground and enabling him to land without difficulty. The light will show no higher than the pilot compartment.


A ceiling light, throwing a shaft of light straight into the air, will be mounted on top of the operations office. Border lights will be placed along the edge of the field, showing its boundaries. All of the hangars will be flood-lighted, as well as other necessary lighting arrangements installed.
The transportation facilities to the field will be increased. Colonel Sherrill has authorized the widening of Turkey Bottom Road to 40 feet and Davis Lane and other approaches leading to the field will be made authorization having been obtained for a right of way.


It is the hope of Colonel Sherrill and Mr. Olin that in some future period the wide bend in the Little Miami River can be eliminated and the field made larger. To care for the possibility of high water, a large dike is to be built along the field graded in such a manner as to keep it dry as much as possible.


Sewerage facilities will be installed and city water piped and extended. Every advantage which the city can supply the municipal airport of Cincinnati will be given, making the airport one of America’s best.
The field as it is today won the enthusiasm of the fliers who finished in the Cincinnati Airaces. Arthur Goebel, winner of the non-stop race said it was one of the best he had landed on and expressed surprise that it had not been developed---------transportation would mean nothing if all the time gained in flying would have to be spent getting to and from the airport.


The Lunken Airport Company took over the property of the polo club, reconverted the barn into a machine shop and clubhouse, moved the hangars from Grisard Flying Field and improved the approach to the field by building a road. Electric lines were installed and the water supply furnished. A runway for airplanes a mile and a half long was built and other necessary improvements made with the result that the former corn field and polo course became the landing field for the latest modern invention in transportation.
Approximately $45,000 was spent improving the property, and shortly thereafter the company leased this property to the Embry-Riddle Company, Inc. which started the first commercial air service in Cincinnati and which company is responsible for the development of commercial aviation to a greater degree than any other company or individual.
With Major Hoffman as the Army representative here, the airport was placed on the United States Airways and other army reserve air pilots now operate from the field..


Captain John G. Colgan is now in charge of the air reserves, while Major Hoffman is in Dayton experimenting with the development of several new types of parachutes; one for individuals and the other for airplanes.
Commercial aviation started in a small way in Cincinnati. Those were the lean years for aviators when the country was less air minded, and trans Atlantic and transcontinental non-stop flight were discussed with all abhorrence. Pioneers in the industry were considered fools to experiment with so fragile a proposition.


Perseverance over a period of years finally placed the Embry-Riddle Company in a position where today it is considered one of the best commercial companies in the United States. It operates Contract Air Mail Line No. 24 between Cincinnati and Chicago and is the only commercial company located on Lunken Airport.


Credit for starting the commercial flying era in Cincinnati must be given to Hugh Watson and John Paul Riddle------was undertaken by the Embry Riddle Company and gradually it commenced to grow, until today the company is the only commercial company operating on the municipal airport, employing 54 persons of whom 30 can fly.


Upon this field, once an Indian hunting ground, later a corn field, and since, a polo field will land the future aircraft visitors to Cincinnati. The field, the property of Cincinnati, will prove to a nation of air-minded persons that Cincinnatians are alive and awake to the possibilities of aviation from a commercial and manufacturing point of view.