Cincinnati-Northern Kentucky International Airport
The Cincinnati-Northern Kentucky International Airport (CVG) officially opened in 1947 with the landing of an American Airlines DC-3 flight in front of a welcoming hometown crowd. First used as an Army Air Corps pilot training site in 1944, the airfield was abandoned by the military after about a year of use as World War II was ending. Soon after that, local officials decided to build an airport terminal on the property, launching a new era of commercial flight at the site.
Although the airport serves Greater Cincinnati, it actually is based in Boone County, Kentucky. The airport is known to the locals and in the airline industry as CVG, referring to the nearby town of Covington. However, Apollo 11 astronaut Neil Armstrong once joked that those initials might also stand for “Cincinnati very good.” Armstrong, who died in 2012, served on the airport’s board of directors in the 1970s.
Cincinnati’s first municipal airport opened in Ohio in 1925, but a decision to build a newer facility in Kentucky was made in the 1940s. Located southeast of Cincinnati, the older Lunken Airport earned the nickname “Sunken Lunken” because it had been damaged by Ohio River flooding. Those problems caused some to deem it unsuitable for expansion. Northern Kentucky civic leaders lobbied to have a newer airport built on farmland across the river in their state, not far from downtown Cincinnati. The project was approved by President Franklin D. Roosevelt and subsidized with $2 million in federal funding.
The Cincinnati-Northern Kentucky airport has experienced dramatic expansion since those early days. With the introduction of jet planes in the 1960s, many more people began to travel by air. The first commercial jet service to CVG was introduced by Delta in 1960. Two additional terminals were opened in 1974, and a third one was remodeled to accommodate the growth. A $500 million terminal expansion in 1994 increased the number of airline gates to 100. A second north-south runway was added in 1991, and a third one was opened in 2005.
Over the years, the airport has become a major hub for global travel. The first international flight from the airport took to the skies in 1987. Today, the facility schedules flights to 53 non-stop destinations, including Paris and Toronto. More than 180 planes depart from the airport every day.
Visitors to the vast airport complex will discover there is much more to see than airplanes. At CVG’s Holscher Park, patrons can learn about airport operations as they view informational displays on a landscaped walking path. Groups on scheduled tours can visit the airport’s Tour Plane and can sit in a real jet cockpit. The airport boasts miles of horse trails, which can be used for free by participants in CVG’s Equestrian Program. The airport also offers an environmental science tour that highlights the technology used there to keep local streams clean.
Cincinnati-Northern Kentucky Airport Amenities
Inside the terminals, visitors can get a taste of Cincinnati’s past by viewing 14 art deco murals decorating the walls of the terminals. The mosaics, designed by German artist Winold Reiss, depict manufacturing workers and craftsmen who were key to industrial development in the city. The murals originally lined the walls at Cincinnati’s Union Terminal railway station, but they were moved to the airport in 1972 when the train terminal was sold.
CVG’s well-maintained grounds now cover more than 11 square miles. The airport is like a city in itself, with its own fire and police departments and its own road system. This bustling flight hub provides service to millions of passengers annually and supports about 50,000 regional jobs.