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Campus & Community

Ohio State Airport’s No. 1 destination may surprise you

Peek inside the airport’s logs to find out where leisure and business travelers, Buckeye aviators and more are flying.

plane on the tarmac at the ohio state university airport

Did you know? The Ohio State University Airport traces its history to 1917, when the War Department established Schools of Military Aeronautics at six universities, including Ohio State. (The Ohio State University Airport)

Thousands of travelers, students and aviation enthusiasts pass through The Ohio State University Airport each year. Located in the northwest corner of Columbus, the airport provides a learning lab, easy access to charter and business flights, and a Buckeye gateway to global destinations.

Closer to home, it plays an important role in Ohio: For example, Don Scott Field, as it’s locally known, plugged a critical transportation gap during the pandemic, enabling essential travel and transport of medical specimens. In fact, the airport (code KOSU) logged the most takeoffs and landings of all Ohio airports in 2020.

Since then, pilots, students, leisure and business travelers and plane-curious observers have kept the vibrant, new Austin E. Knowlton Executive Terminal & Aviation Learning Center just as busy. Here are 10 interesting destinations they’re flying to.  

1. New York City

Executives enjoy a convenient commute by air to the Big Apple. Many Central Ohio companies, including Fortune 500 corporations, tap KOSU for easy access to the East Coast.

2. Hilton Head Island

While many golfers arrive at the Ohio State airport to play a round at nearby Muirfield Village Golf Club, others depart for destinations such as Hilton Head Island. During winter, it’s not uncommon to see smiling travelers carrying golf bags in the KOSU lobby.

3. Michigan

Have an airplane and want to watch Ohio State play an away game against That Team Up North? Buckeye fans have been known to skip traffic on the ground and travel by skyway instead. In addition, members of the airport community participating in Operation Good Cheer deliver holiday gifts to foster children across That State Up North.

4. Go West!

When a large group charters an aircraft, it can be more cost-effective than flying commercial, as the airport’s outdoor enthusiasts and agribusiness clients know well. For group hunting trips, Idaho is a top destination, and for agribusiness teams, it’s the Great Plains.

5. Kentucky

Volunteer service groups, including those providing flights for medical transport or rehoming rescued pets, can take advantage of KOSU’s easy access and convenient Midwest location. The Bluegrass State is a regular relay point for pilots ferrying pets to their forever homes.

6. Niagara Falls

Completing a solo, cross-country flight is a landmark in pilot training, and navigating to the U.S. side of this spectacular natural wonder is a favorite route for Buckeye aviation students.

7. Chicago

An almost daily destination from KOSU, the Windy City makes for a quick round trip for those traveling for business and also Blue Jackets fans heading to games against the Chicago Blackhawks.

8. Put-in-Bay

Have you ever eaten a “$100 hamburger”? In aviation jargon that refers to pilots taking a short trip in a small plane to eat at another airport’s restaurant. Ohio’s Lake Erie islands provide a fun meetup spot for area pilots and can serve double duty: To maintain their certifications, pilots need to perform instrument approaches and takeoffs and landings.

9. Naples, Florida

Snowbirds heading south for the winter fill many of the flights bound for southwest Florida, and they regularly take to the skies from Ohio State’s airport.

10. Columbus

KOSU’s most popular destination is actually itself. Not only do about 160 student pilots perform their flights in the skies above the state’s capital every semester, but many service organizations also are based on-site. That includes critical care transportation and groups such as the State Highway Patrol, Ohio Departments of Natural Resources and Transportation, and the Ohio Civil Air Patrol, to name a few.

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