General Mitchell International Airport
General Mitchell International Airport in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, is named after General Billy Mitchell. Mitchell, who spent his childhood in Milwaukee, is seen by many aviation enthusiasts as the father of the modern United States Air Force. Originally, the facility was established as a small airfield in 1920. At this time, it was called Hamilton Airport because it was established by local businessman Thomas Hamilton. The property was purchased by Milwaukee County in October of 1926, and the name of the facility was changed to Milwaukee County Airport. Three years later, regular passenger service was established by the Kohler Aviation Corporation, which started serving passengers on flights across Lake Michigan. As commercial flight became more popular, the airport added an official passenger terminal in 1940. The airport was given the name, “Mitchell Field,” during March of the following year.
History of General Mitchell Airport
Mitchell Field served an important purpose for the United States during World War II. The grounds of the airport were leased to the U.S. War Department at the beginning of 1945 for use as a camp for prisoners of war. The camp was managed by approximately 250 enlisted men, and it contained more than 3,000 prisoners, many of whom were Germans. Interestingly, some of the German prisoners who were able to escape became surprised when they realized that the city beyond the prison’s fences was populated with so many people of German heritage.
The airport’s current terminal, which was designed by Leigh Fisher and Associates, was opened during the summer of 1955. It was able to serve passengers for 30 years before it underwent major renovations and expansion in 1985. In June of 1986, the airport was renamed as General Mitchell International Airport. Additional expansions and renovations occurred throughout the 1990s. Notably, the so-called hammerhead portion of Concourse D was introduced in 1990.
General Mitchell Airport currently operates in an area covering 2,180 acres. It uses a total of five runways. The runway oriented at a direction of 01L/19R is 10,690 feet long. It is paired with a runway that is oriented in the opposite direction at 01R/19L, which is much shorter at 4,183 feet long. The other runways are oriented at, 07L/25R, 07R/25L and 13/31. The 07R/25L runway is the airport’s second longest at 9,012 feet. All of the runways use a paving surface that combines asphalt and concrete. The 07R/25L runway is notable because it actually uses an overpass that exists above Milwaukee’s Howell Avenue. This means that local motorists often see airplanes land and take off directly in front of them.
During 2005, General Mitchell International Airport experienced nearly 220,000 total aircraft operations. This means that the airport handled approximately 600 operations per day, on average. Air taxi flights were responsible for 56 percent of this total, while 32 percent of the operations were performed by scheduled commercial flights. General aviation operations made up 10 percent of traffic that year, while military flights were responsible for one percent of total aircraft operations. According to statistics obtained in 2010, General Mitchell International Airport is the world’s third fastest-growing airport, making it the only United States facility to rank in the top 30 of the category.
General Mitchell International Airport is served by a massive parking facility. Hourly and daily parking options are available in the structure located adjacent to the terminal, while additional parking options are available in a surface lot located somewhat further from the entrance to the facility. For the convenience of those arriving to pick up passengers, the airport also includes a cell phone waiting area. This allows drivers to wait in their vehicles for their parties to arrive instead of driving in circles around the terminal.
Airlines Serving Milwaukee Airport
Southwest Airlines uses Concourse C at General Mitchell International Airport in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and it is the largest commercial carrier at the facility. Southwest passengers can reach destinations such as Baltimore, Fort Lauderdale, Kansas City, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, New York-LaGuardia, Phoenix, San Francisco, St. Louis and more with year-round, non stop flights. The airline also offers flights to the cities of New Orleans, Louisiana, and Tampa, Florida, on a seasonal basis. The airline’s route from Milwaukee to Las Vegas is the sixth most popular at the airport with more than 210,000 passengers served each year. Southwest flights to Denver, Colorado are also quite popular, but the airline shares this route with additional carriers.
Air Tran Airways also operates from Concourse C at General Mitchell Airport. Through Air Tran, passengers can reach the destinations of Atlanta, Fort Myers, New York-LaGuardia, Orlando, Tampa and Washington-National on a year-round basis. Seasonally, travelers can use Air Tran to fly to Boston and Cancún. Along with Delta Airlines, Air Tran serves passengers traveling to the two most popular destinations from Milwaukee, which are Atlanta, Georgia, and Minneapolis, Minnesota. All Air Tran flights that depart from General Mitchell Airport are operated by the airline’s partner, Southwest Airlines.
Delta Airlines has a significant presence at General Mitchell International Airport. The airline’s mainline service offers flights to Atlanta, Detroit and Minneapolis/St. Paul on a year-round basis. Seasonally, travelers can use Delta to reach Cancún and Orlando. Delta Connection flights serve additional destinations such as New York-LaGuardia, Cincinnati and Memphis. Delta Connection flights are operated by third-party airlines including ExpressJet, Compass Airlines, Pinnacle Airlines and Shuttle America. All Delta flights depart from Concourse E.
Frontier Airlines is a smaller commercial carrier, but it offers important routes to passengers flying out of Milwaukee. Through Frontier’s mainline service, travelers can fly to Denver, Colorado, and Orlando, Florida during any time of the year. Seasonally, the airline provides flights to Cancún, Mexico. Passengers who want to reach the airport in rural Rhinelander, Wisconsin, can use the Frontier Express service, which is operated by Chautauqua Airlines. All Frontier flights leave from Concourse C.
US Airways offers flights to three different destinations from Milwaukee’s General Mitchell Airport. The airline’s mainline operation flies passengers to the city of Phoenix, Arizona, while its US Airways Express program offers flights to Charlotte, North Carolina, and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The US Airways Express flights are operated by Air Wisconsin and PSA Airlines. US Airways operates out of Concourse D.