Milwaukee Mitchell International Airport
2006 USGS orthophoto
|Operator||Milwaukee County Airport Department|
|Location||5300 South Howell Avenue|
|Elevation AMSL||729 ft / 222 m|
FAA airport diagram
Milwaukee Mitchell International Airport (IATA: MKE, ICAO: KMKE, FAA LID: MKE) is a civil-military airport 5 miles (8 km) south of downtown Milwaukee, Wisconsin, United States. It is included in the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) National Plan of Integrated Airport Systems for 2019–2023, in which it is categorized as a medium-hub primary commercial service facility.
It is named after United States Army Air Service General Billy Mitchell, who was raised in Milwaukee and is often regarded as the father of the United States Air Force. Along with being the primary airport for Milwaukee, Mitchell International has sometimes been described as Chicago's third airport, as many travelers in the suburbs north of Chicago use it instead of Chicago's O'Hare and Midway airports. It is also used by travellers throughout Wisconsin and Northern Illinois. An Amtrak railway station opened at the airport in 2005; the station is served by Amtrak's Hiawatha Service running between Chicago and Milwaukee several times daily. Since March 1941, the airport's weather station has been used as the official point for Milwaukee weather observations and records by the National Weather Service, whose area office is located in Sullivan.
Milwaukee Mitchell International Airport is accessible from Interstate 41/Interstate 94/US Highway 41 (North-South Freeway) and Wisconsin Highway 38 (S. Howell Avenue) via Wisconsin Highway 119 (Airport Spur).
The original airfield was established in 1920 as Hamilton Airport by local business owner and aviator, Thomas Hamilton. Milwaukee County purchased the land on October 19, 1926, for the Milwaukee County Airport. The first airport terminal there, the Hirschbuehl Farmhouse, opened in July 1927. That month, Northwest Airlines, Inc., began air service from Milwaukee to Chicago and Minneapolis/St. Paul. In August 1927, world-renowned aviator Charles Lindbergh visited the Milwaukee airport. Kohler Aviation Corporation began providing passenger service across Lake Michigan on August 31, 1929. During the late depression years (1938–July 1940), a new two-story passenger terminal building was constructed by the Works Progress Administration. On March 17, 1941 the airport was renamed General Mitchell Field after Milwaukee's military airpower advocate, Brigadier General William "Billy" Mitchell. On January 4, 1945, Mitchell Field was leased to the War Department for use as a World War II prisoner-of-war camp. Over 3,000 prisoners and 250 enlisted men stayed at the work camp. Escaped German prisoners were often surprised to find a large German American population just beyond the fence. The present terminal opened on July 20, 1955 and was designed by Leigh Fisher and Associates. It was renovated and expanded in 1985, designed by Miller, Meier, Kenyon, Cooper Architects and Planners Inc. The "hammerhead" section of the D concourse was added in 1990. On June 19, 1986 the Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors renamed the airport General Mitchell International Airport.
The airport was formerly a hub for AirTran Airways, Frontier Airlines and Midwest Airlines. On December 28, 2014, the airport became a focus city for Southwest Airlines, after finalizing their merger with AirTran Airways.
In February 2019, the airport was renamed from "General Mitchell International Airport" to "Milwaukee Mitchell International Airport," a rebranding meant to highlight the airport's location; the old name is still used by the FAA and US government.
Awards and recognition
In October 2008 a Condé Nast Traveler poll ranked Milwaukee Mitchell International Airport fourth in the nation using categories of Location and Access, Design, Customs and Baggage, Perceived Safety and Security, as well as Food, Shops and Amenities.
Mitchell International expanded the runway safety area at the end of the runways after an accident on January 21, 2007, when Northwest Airlines Flight 1726 skidded off the runway following an aborted takeoff. According to the FAA, most airports are encouraged to have a runway safety area no shorter than 1,000 feet (305 m), though many airports do not. Construction of the runway safety areas began at the end of summer 2009 and was completed in fall 2012.
There is also a "Master Plan" idea to increase terminal area by stretching the existing terminal (in some cases, to almost double the size) or begin construction of a separate terminal. Nearly all cases would involve major reconstruction on the airport itself, and would have a huge impact on the airport's traffic. These plans were, however, drafted before Mitchell saw a significant reduction in carriers and flights. More recently, in 2012, there were discussions of closing one concourse as a cost-cutting move.
The approved 2018 Milwaukee County Budget contains initial funding for replacement of the now-closed Concourse E with a new International Terminal. It will replace the current International Arrivals Terminal (IAT) which has limited capacity and is not connected to the main terminal building. The new terminal is planned to open in 2020 after the demolition of Concourse E is completed. During October 2018, airport and Milwaukee County officials set a timeline for design, construction and completion of the new International terminal. Pre-design work and bidding concluded in November 2018, with construction set to begin in early 2020 and likely concluding in mid-2021.
Facilities and operations
Milwaukee Mitchell International Airport covers 2,180 acres (880 ha) and has five asphalt and concrete runways ranging from 4,183 to 9,990 ft (1,463 to 3,045 m). A helipad measuring 100 by 100 ft (30 x 30m) is on the south side of the airport property. The 07R/25L runway has an overpass with Howell Avenue (WI-38) running underneath. For the year ending April 20, 2019, the airport had 109,024 aircraft operations, an average of 299 per day: 58% commercial airline, 30% air taxi, 10% general aviation and 2% military. In November 2019, there were 93 aircraft based at this airport: 32 single-engine, 30 multi-engine, 21 jet and 10 various military aircraft. The main building houses the Mitchell Gallery of Flight, a non-profit museum on the concession level, the usual retail outlets, including a small food court and a branch of Renaissance Books which is believed to be the world's first used book store in an airport. In 2015 the airport added three lactation stations not associated with restrooms for breastfeeding. There are also play areas for children throughout the airport. An observation lot along the northern edge of the airport is open to the public and tower communications are rebroadcast using a low-power FM transmitter for visitors to tune in on their car radios. There is also a new lot on 6th Street, with a Wisconsin historical marker giving the airport's history. In 2008, then airport director Barry Bateman jokingly designated an area in Concourse C following security checkpoint the "Recombobulation Area". All the airport's concourses now have signs marking "Recombobulation Areas" with chairs where travelers can get their belongings back together after passing through security. The reception by travelers has been positive.
Milwaukee Mitchell International Airport has 38 gates of which 31 are equipped with jet bridges on two concourses in one terminal. All international arrivals lacking border preclearance must pass through the International Arrivals Building.
In April 2017, all airlines housed in Concourse E began moving to Concourse C. This would allow the airport to remodel the concourse and move International Arrivals processing into the terminal. Following redevelopment of Concourse E, the current International Arrivals Building just north of the main terminals will close.
Airlines and destinations
|2||Delta Air Lines||1,404,000||21.04%|
|1||Atlanta, Georgia||400,770||Delta, Southwest|
|2||Denver, Colorado||270,660||Frontier, Southwest, United|
|3||Minneapolis/St Paul, Minnesota||224,430||Delta|
|4||Phoenix, Arizona||212,550||American, Frontier, Southwest|
|5||Orlando, Florida||198,510||Delta, Frontier, Southwest|
|6||Chicago–O'Hare, Illinois||184,190||American, United|
|8||Las Vegas, Nevada||156,710||Frontier, Southwest|
|9||New York–La Guardia, New York||148,810||Delta, Southwest|
|10||Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas||139,110||American|
The airport also hosts the General Mitchell Air National Guard Base on the eastern area of the airport property, home to the 128th Air Refueling Wing (128 ARW), an Air Mobility Command (AMC)-gained unit of the Wisconsin Air National Guard flying the KC-135R Stratotanker. The wing performs both Federal and State missions and consists of approximately 1000 Air National Guard personnel, both full-time Active Guard and Reserve (AGR) and Air Reserve Technicians (ART), as well as traditional part-time guardsmen, available for worldwide deployment in support of Air Mobility Command and combatant commander tasking. The wing also maintains a KC-135 flight simulator, providing training proficiency for its own crews, as well as other KC-135 flight crews in other air refueling wings and air mobility wings in the Regular U.S. Air Force, the Air Force Reserve Command and the Air National Guard.
Prior to 2007, a second military installation on the southwestern portion of the airport property was known as "General Mitchell Air Reserve Station" and was home to the 440th Airlift Wing (440 AW), an Air Mobility Command (AMC)-gained unit of the Air Force Reserve Command (AFRC) flying the C-130H Hercules. While based at General Mitchell ARS, the 440 AW numbered in excess of 1500 full-time AGR, ART and part-time traditional reservists. Pursuant to 2005 Base Realignment and Closure Commission (BRAC) action, the 440 AW relocated to Pope AFB, North Carolina, in 2007 and the former AFRC facilities were turned over to the Air National Guard, resulting in the installation's renaming.
- Badger Coach has frequent trips between Mitchell Airport, Downtown Milwaukee, Madison, Johnson Creek and Goerkes Corners.
- Airport Connection has routes from the Airport to the Amtrak Station, the Milwaukee Airport Rail Station (MKA), parking lots, Sheboygan and the Fox Valley Area.
- Milwaukee County Transit System The Green Line MetroExpress offers service to downtown and north shore suburbs. Regular Route 80 also serves the Airport (from Oak Creek to downtown and north side).
- Amtrak has a station 3/4 of a mile from the airport and uses the Hiawatha Service. Free shuttle buses go between the train station and the baggage claim.
- Amtrak has a Thruway Bus Service that calls at Mitchell International serving Fond du Lac, Oshkosh, Appleton, and Green Bay. Its main purpose is to allow passengers from those cities to connect with Amtrak trains in downtown Milwaukee. However it offers service to/from Mitchell as a convenience to passengers - obviating the need for a 10-minute train ride and associated transfers.
- Wisconsin Coach Lines, as Airport Express, operates frequently to O'Hare Airport (ORD) in Chicago and from Waukesha, Milwaukee (Downtown and the Amtrak/Greyhound Station), Racine and Kenosha.
- Lamers Bus Lines, as Lamers Connect, operates daily service to/from Wausau with stops in Milwaukee (Downtown Amtrak/Greyhound Station), Fond du Lac, Oshkosh (including a University of Wisconsin–Oshkosh stop), Appleton, Waupaca and Stevens Point (including a University of Wisconsin–Stevens Point stop).
Accidents and incidents
- On December 17, 1954, a Miller Brewing Company plane, a converted twin-engine Lockheed Ventura bound for Winnipeg on a Friday evening, had trouble with both engines and crashed shortly after takeoff from Mitchell Field. All four on board were killed, which included company president Fred Miller and his oldest son, 20-year-old Fred, Jr., and the two company pilots, brothers Joseph and Paul Laird.
- On August 4, 1968, a Convair CV-580, flying as North Central Airlines flight 261, collided in mid-air with a privately owned Cessna 150. The Cessna cabin remained attached to the Convair's forward baggage compartment. The Convair made a safe emergency landing at Milwaukee. The three Cessna occupants were killed. The Cessna was on a VFR flight from Lombard, Illinois to Sheboygan County Memorial Airport in Sheboygan Falls. It was determined that the inability of the Convair 580 flight crew to detect the Cessna 150 visually in sufficient time to take evasive action, despite having been provided with three radar traffic advisories, caused the crash. Visual detection capabilities were reduced by the heavy accumulation of insect smears on the windows of the Convair. Visibility was further reduced by haze, smoke and sunglare, and by the inconspicuous colour and lack of relative motion of the Cessna.
- On January 29, 1969, a Boeing KC-97, operated by the Wisconsin Air National Guard, crashed just short of the runway on final approach. The weather was foggy with a visibility of a half mile. Four of the 11 people on board were killed and the plane was damaged beyond repair.
- On January 22, 1971, Northwest Airlines Flight 433 was hijacked after taking off from Milwaukee to Detroit, Michigan. The hijacker demanded to be taken to Algeria, but landed in Cuba.
- On September 6, 1985, Midwest Express Flight 105, Midwest's first and only fatal accident, crashed upon takeoff from Milwaukee. One of the airline's Douglas DC-9s crashed while taking off, bound for Atlanta's Hartsfield International Airport. According to NTSB reports, the crash was caused by improper pilot reaction when the plane's right engine failed due to stress corrosion cracking. The improper flight control inputs caused an uncommanded roll and accelerated stall. The 31 people on board died.
- On December 10, 1993, a Wisconsin Air National Guard KC-135 blew up on the ground. Six maintenance personnel died.
- In early August 1997, an SR-71 declared an in-air emergency prior to a fly-by at the Oshkosh Airshow and diverted to General Mitchell International Airport. No one was hurt in the incident.
- On August 31, 2005, a Midwest Airlines Boeing 717 bumped a weed spraying truck and damaged the plane's left wing. No one was hurt in the incident.
- On January 21, 2007, a Northwest Airlines DC-9, Northwest Airlines Flight 1726 skidded 400 feet (120 m) off the end of a snowy runway at Milwaukee International Airport. The accident was due to an explosion in one of the engines, forcing the pilot to abort takeoff. The aircraft was headed for Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport and was to continue on to Buffalo Niagara International Airport. Amongst the 104 people aboard, only one back injury was reported.
- On January 23, 2007, two Freight Runners Express cargo planes collided and burned on a taxiway. Both pilots were able to escape without injury. The planes were a Cessna 402 and a Beech 99. An NTSB investigation determined both pilots and air traffic control were at fault for the accident.
- On June 4, 2007, a Cessna Citation II crashed after reporting a runaway trim tab. The pilot issued a distress signal within five minutes after taking off. The plane then crashed into Lake Michigan two miles (3 km) off shore. The plane was carrying an organ transplant team from the University of Michigan back to Willow Run Airport. There was a crew of two and four passengers aboard. All six died.
- On November 13, 2007, a Midwest Connect flight from Milwaukee bound for Dayton was in a near-miss situation with a United Express jet heading to Chicago O'Hare International Airport from Greensboro while flying over northern Indiana. Air traffic controllers with Chicago Center directed the Midwest Connect flight to begin its descent while traveling head-on towards the United Express CRJ a few thousand feet below. The planes came as close as 1.3 miles (2.1 km) apart horizontally and 600 feet (183 m) vertically. The Midwest Connect Dornier 328JET was just above the United Express aircraft and descending while they were closing in on each other. An audible TCAS alarm in the Midwest Connect cockpit alerted the pilots of the proximity, allowing them to pull up in time.
- On April 22, 2008, a Chautauqua Airlines flight from St. Louis to Milwaukee experienced engine failure and landed safely at MidAmerica St. Louis Airport. Of the 32 passengers on board, none were injured.
- On September 12, 2008, at 7:13 PM, a Cirrus SR22 heading from Milwaukee bound for Lakeland Airport in Vilas County crashed half of a mile southwest of the airport. All three people on board died.
- FAA Airport Master Record for MKE (PDF), effective November 7, 2019.
- "Air Traffic Report". General Mitchell International Airport. January 2017. Retrieved August 8, 2017.
- "NPIAS Report 2019-2023 Appendix A" (PDF). Federal Aviation Administration. October 3, 2018. Retrieved October 12, 2018.
- "Mitchell Offers Delay-Weary Chicago Travelers Timely Alternative". Mitchell Memo. Mitchell International Airport. September 2004.
- "Threaded Extremes". Threadex.rcc-acis.org. Retrieved June 26, 2017.
- "Historic Markers – General Mitchell Field WI221". Milwaukee County Historical Society. 1978. Archived from the original on September 28, 2007. Retrieved October 4, 2006.
- Cowley, Betty (2002). Stalag Wisconsin: Inside WW II prisoner-of-war camps. Oregon, Wisconsin: Badger Books. ISBN 1-878569-83-X. OCLC 48998212.
- "Here's the Program". Milwaukee Journal. July 21, 1955. Retrieved June 16, 2012.
- Jesen, Dean (July 25, 1985). "Airport Terminal to Open Sunday". The Milwaukee Sentinel. Retrieved June 16, 2012.
- Kirchen, Rich (September 21, 2008). "Lubar: Sell Airport to Eliminate Milwaukee County Deficit". Milwaukee Business Journal. Bizjournals.com. Retrieved October 9, 2009.
- Klopf, Rebecca (February 5, 2019). "Milwaukee airport quietly changes its name". NBC26. Retrieved February 6, 2019.
- News, FOX6. "Mitchell International Airport drops 'General' from name, adds Milwaukee". NBC15. Retrieved February 6, 2019.
- ""General" dropped from airport's name, now "Milwaukee Mitchell International Airport"". CBS58. February 5, 2019. Retrieved February 6, 2019.
- Leary, Patrick. "MKE rebranding to Milwaukee Mitchell International Airport, dropping 'General'". Milwaukee Business Journal. Retrieved February 6, 2019.
- "Master Plan Update". General Mitchell International Airport. July 28, 2006. Archived from the original (PDF) on April 26, 2012. Retrieved February 11, 2008.
- "Mitchell proposes closing one concourse". Milwaukee Business Journal. October 5, 2012. Retrieved September 13, 2014.
- "Milwaukee County's 2018 budget includes $25 million for new terminal at Mitchell International Airport". jsonline.com. Retrieved November 27, 2017.
- "5040-Airport Budget Report" (PDF). p. 5. Retrieved May 2, 2018.
- Leary, Patrick (October 16, 2018). "Process to turn shuttered Mitchell airport concourse into new international terminal begins". Milwaukee Business Journal. Retrieved September 10, 2019.
- "The Challenge of Airport Bookselling", Publishers Weekly, July 13, 1984
- Snyder, Molly (May 21, 2015). "Mitchell airport boasts world's only "recombobulation area" signs". Retrieved April 15, 2018.
- "State Historical marker #221" (PDF). Wisconsin History. Retrieved September 27, 2008.
- Durhams, Sharif (July 9, 2008). "Airport Draws Smiles with 'Recombobulation Area'". Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. Archived from the original on April 4, 2012. Retrieved March 20, 2012.
- "Milwaukee airport to get new international terminal". Milwaukee WI: WISN. WISN News. July 15, 2016. Retrieved July 28, 2016.
United Airlines and Air Canada, both of which currently operate from Concourse E, will move to Concourse C
- "Southwest MKE-LGA Flight Schedules". southwest.com. Retrieved March 12, 2020.
- "United Airlines adding seasonal nonstop flights between Milwaukee and San Francisco". jsonline.com. Retrieved January 10, 2020.
- "RITA BTS Transtats – MKE". www.transtats.bts.gov. Bureau Of Transportation Statistics. February 2020. Retrieved May 15, 2020.
- "Enplaned and Deplaned Passengers. Retrieved on Jan 31, 2017" (PDF). Retrieved June 26, 2017.
- "Air Traffic Report December 2019" (PDF). Retrieved January 29, 2020.
- "Wisconsin Bus Charters". Badger Coaches. Archived from the original on September 28, 2008. Retrieved September 27, 2008.
- "MKE Airport Connection". Airport Connection. Retrieved September 27, 2008.
- "MCTS". Milwaukee County Transit System. Retrieved September 15, 2012.
- "Milwaukee Airport Station". Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WISDOT). Archived from the original on September 12, 2008. Retrieved September 27, 2008.
- "Amtrak Thruway I-41 Bus Service". Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WISDOT).
- "Wisconsin Coach service". Coach USA. Archived from the original on September 16, 2008. Retrieved September 27, 2008.
- "Lamers Connect". Lamers Bus Lines. Retrieved September 15, 2012.
- "Fred Miller, son die in fiery plane crash". Milwaukee Sentinel. December 18, 1954. p. 1.
- "Fred C. Miller, son killed in air crash". Milwaukee Journal. December 18, 1954. p. 1.
- "Fred Miller, Jr., versatile athlete". Milwaukee Sentinel. December 18, 1954. p. 2.
- "Pilots buried side by side". Milwaukee Journal. December 20, 1954. p. 2.
- "CAB findings in Miller crash". Milwaukee Sentinel. March 18, 1955. p. 1, part 2.
- "Aircraft Accident Boeing KC-97". Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved May 14, 2015.
- Hijacking description at the Aviation Safety Network
- "Midwest Express Airlines Flight 105". National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB). Retrieved September 27, 2008.
- Francey, Dave (February 21, 2019). "Stories of Oshkosh - Dave Francey". Inspire EAA. Retrieved February 26, 2019.
- Johnson, Mark; Kissinger, Meg (January 22, 2007). "Scared to Death". Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. Archived from the original on February 10, 2007. Retrieved September 28, 2008.
- Sandler, Larry (January 22, 2007). "Safety Won't Come Easy – 3 Mitchell Runways Don't Meet Federal Standards, but Compliance by 2015 Means Navigating Multiple Obstacles". Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. Archived from the original on January 5, 2009. Retrieved September 28, 2008. (republished by Hall & Associates)
- "Cargo Planes Collide, Burn at Milwaukee Airport". FOX News. January 24, 2007. Archived from the original on April 26, 2012. Retrieved September 28, 2008.
- "FAA: Error Nearly Led to Jets Colliding". ABC News. Associated Press. November 17, 2007. Retrieved February 11, 2008.[dead link]
- Tascher, Joe. "Can't find a nonstop flight from Mitchell International? Check again." Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. July 16, 2013.
- General Mitchell International Airport - official site
- Wisconsin Airport Directory: "General Mitchell International Airport" (PDF).
- Milwaukee Airport Railroad Station
- flyertalk.com Guide to the Milwaukee Airport
- (PDF), effective May 21, 2020
- Resources for this airport:
- AirNav airport information for KMKE
- ASN accident history for MKE
- FlightAware airport information and live flight tracker
- NOAA/NWS weather observations: current, past three days
- SkyVector aeronautical chart for KMKE
- FAA current MKE delay information
- Great Lakes Aviation