Ohio, the “Birthplace of Aviation,” has been home to countless aviation inventions, the birthplace of many pioneering aviators, the cradle of aviation industry, and the location of important events in the history of flight. Though the famous flight testing for The Wright Flyer was done at Kitty Hawk, in North Carolina, the Wright brothers were born in Ohio and performed all their experiments that led to the invention in their home state. This air trail is just a sample of some of the things you can see, do, and experience (aviation and not) across Ohio, from Northeast to Southwest (or vice versa).
Downtown Cleveland is pretty quaint with nice areas by the Cuyahoga River and Lake Erie, many restaurants, bars, the West Side Market, museums (the most famous is probably the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame), a zoo, an aquarium, the USS Cod submarine, sports venues, and a botanical garden among other things.
Burke Lakefront Airport (KBKL) (https://www.burkeairport.com/), shown below, is a great airport to use if downtown is your destination. The International Women’s Air and Space Museum (http://iwasm.org/wp-blog/) is on the field. They are open daily from 8 am to 8 pm and the entrance is complementary. Also, keep in mind they have a fairly large airshow, the Cleveland National Airshow (https://www.clevelandairshow.com/) every year, usually around Labor Day.
An Instagram favorite (especially for couples taking professional pictures) is Squire’s Castle in the North Chagrin Reservation (https://www.clevelandmetroparks.com/parks/visit/parks/north-chagrin-reservation). Either KBKL or Cuyahoga County Airport (KCGF) (http://publicworks.cuyahogacounty.us/en-US/County-Airport.aspx) would be your best destination airport to reach the castle.
You know I’m always going to advertise our National Parks. Between Cleveland and Akron, you can find Cuyahoga Valley National Park (https://www.nps.gov/cuva/). While it is not a “one of a kind,” it is worth spending at least a full day on it. You can go fishing/kayaking on the Cuyahoga River, hike (for example, around Brandywine Falls), bike (for example, on the Ohio and Erie Canal Towpath Trail), and/or take a scenic train through it. From January to May, the National Park Scenic excursion is a 2 hrs and 30 min round trip. From June through October, the train runs Wednesdays-Sundays on an extended schedule. Peninsula, the little town in the middle of it, is cute and a good place to stop for lunch. If you decide to bike on the Towpath Trail, you can take the train back after you’re done. The train can be flagged down at boarding stations by waving both arms over your head.
You can access the park from a variety of airports: Medina (1G5), Kent State University (1G3), Wadsworth (3G3), Weltzien (15G), or Akron Fulton International (KAKR) for example. Whichever can get you a rental car 😊
In addition to Cuyahoga Valley National Park and Kent State University’s aviation program (https://www.kent.edu/cae) if you have kids or grandkids entering the college world, Akron has other things you can visit, such as the Stan Hywet Hall and Gardens or a zoo.
But, more importantly, have you seen the Goodyear blimp at events around the country? Well, the company maintains three operational bases (https://www.goodyearblimp.com/behind-the-scenes/airship-bases.html) and one of them (in fact, the Headquarters) is in Suffield, southeast of Akron. Each ensures the Blimp is ready to soar above its next destination. Built in 1917, the hangar at Wingfoot Lake is the oldest airship facility and one of the oldest active aircraft bases in the world. In addition to a maintenance and construction facility for Goodyear's blimp fleet, it is currently the home to Goodyear's new semi-rigid Zeppelin airship, Wingfoot Three. Based on its contributions to Lighter-Than-Air, aviation in general and military significance during WWI & WWII, the Wingfoot Lake Hangar was awarded an Ohio historical marker in 2018. You may be able to schedule a visit ahead of time.
Wingfoot Lake also has a state park you can visit (http://parks.ohiodnr.gov/wingfootlake).
Akron Fulton Airport (KAKR) (http://akronfultonairport.com/) is your best bet for visiting the city and its surroundings.
Columbus is the Capital of Ohio so, as such, you can always visit their Capitol or Statehouse. Additionally, Columbus is known for Easton Town Center, the city’s most popular restaurant and shop area, Franklin Park Conservatory, the science education center called Cosi, the German Village, the Short North Arts District, and North Market, rated as one of the nation’s top farmer’s markets.
Ohio State University (KOSU) (also known for its aviation program), Bolton (KTZR), and Columbus Southwest (04I) are the closest airports to town. The first two have towers and the last one does not.
If we had to choose an aviation birthplace city within the state, it would be Dayton. To honor that, the National Park System (NPS) has the Wright-Dunbar Interpretive Center and the Huffman Prairie Flying Field Interpretive Center (https://www.nps.gov/daav/planyourvisit/visitorcenters.htm). While in town, you can also visit the John W. Berry, Sr. Wright Brothers Aviation Center where you can actually see the (restored) 1905 Wright Flyer III, the only plane to have earned the status as a National Historic Landmark. Hawthorn Hill is the historic home of the Wright family. Orville passed away there in 1948. And, we are not done with aviation museums… there is also the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force (USAF) (https://www.nationalmuseum.af.mil/) and the National Aviation Hall of Fame (https://www.nationalaviation.org/). The first museum I mention is said to be the world’s largest and oldest military aviation museum and also the most-visited free tourist attraction in the state.
Aside from aviation, Dayton is also known for its performing areas (philharmonic, dance, opera, theater, etc).
The Dayton-Wright Brothers Airport (KMGY) (http://www.flydayton.com/dayton-wright-brothers-airport/), renamed as such on December 6, 1995 to honor the Wright brothers’ accomplishments, is a General Aviation (GA) airport in Miami Township, approximately 12 miles south of Dayton. It’s not the closest to town but one you want to visit. The Airport is home to Wright “B” Flyer (http://www.wright-b-flyer.org/), a museum honoring the accomplishments of the Wright Brothers. It operates a growing fleet of “lookalike” reproductions, including a historically accurate and beautifully crafted replica of the Model B airplane, which visitors can arrange to fly in! They are open on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays, from 9 am to 2:30 pm and admission is free!
The Queen City (and my husband’s third home) has a lot of buildings registered on the National Register of Historic Places. Visits to Over-the-Rhine district and German-style MainStrasse Village are recommended. You can stroll through Eden Park or Smale Riverfront Park, a number of museums (some of which are in Over-the-Rhine), attend sport events, see the Cincinnati Arch, visit the country’s second oldest zoo, and/or go 49 stories high on Carew Tower (https://cincinnatiusa.com/things-to-do/attractions/carew-tower-observation-deck) for the best views in town.
Cincinnati Lunken (KLUK) (https://www.cincinnati-oh.gov/dote/lunken-airport/) is the closest airport to downtown and, like the rest of the city, has a lot of history. When it opened in 1925, it was the largest municipal airport in the world, the original terminal has the oldest standing Air Traffic Control Tower (ATCT), and it was the birthplace of American Airlines. You can learn more about its history in this recent article: https://www.onlyinyourstate.com/ohio/cincinnati/lunken-airport-cincinnati/.
Source: City of Cincinnati
The Airport has its own bike path surrounding the airfield and it connects with the Ohio River Trail which leads to downtown (https://www.traillink.com/trail/lunken-airport-bike-path/). What a great thing to have, especially with the current security environment everywhere. It reminds me of San Antonio and I love it! And, if that was not enough, the Sky Galley Restaurant on the field offers great views from their patio while enjoying a meal. Like KBKL, KLUK also has their largest event, Lunken Airport Days (http://www.cincinnatiwarbirds.org/), over Labor Day weekend every year. They offer free admission and parking.
Let’s go out and explore! Fly safe and fly often!