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State Series: Wisconsin and Iowa

These neighbouring Midwestern states generate a lot of agriculture and industrial goods for the United States. More known for their college sports, Iowa & Wisconsin do provide some options for travellers heading to the major city of Chicago, Illinois. On December 28, 1846, Iowa became the 29th state in the Union and Wisconsin was the 30th state in the USA in May 1848.


The Eastern Iowa Airport – Cedar Rapids, Iowa

Walkway connecting terminals in the Eastern Iowa Airport featuring flags from many countries. Picture from Wikimedia.

Walkway connecting terminals in the Eastern Iowa Airport featuring flags from many countries. Picture from Wikimedia.

Two miles west of Interstate 380, The Eastern Iowa Airport features two concrete/asphalt runways (labelled 9/27 at 8,600 feet & 13/31 at 6,200 feet), 13 gates and two concourses. The airport’s first commercial presence was in 1947 with United Airlines providing an east-west passenger service and Ozark Airlines provided north-south passenger services in the 1950s. By 1969, the airport was recording 31 airline flights per day and was averaging 353,000 passengers per year. In 2008, the field announced that they had welcomed one million passengers per year to the airport as well as sending an extra one million passengers per year out of the airport to other destinations across the country.

At the moment, the airfield’s passenger portfolio consists of carriers such as Allegiant Air, American Eagle, Delta, Frontier Airlines and United Airlines offering flights to destinations such as Las Vegas, Orland0-Sanford, Phoenix-Mesa, Punta Gorda-Fort Myers, Charlotte, Chicago, Dallas, Atlanta & Denver. On the cargo perspective, the “big three” (DHL, UPS and FedEx) operate flights to Cincinnati, Omaha, Des Moines, Indianapolis, Memphis, Madison, Grand Forks, Sioux Falls, Chicago-Rockford & Louisville.

Des Moines International Airport – Polk County, Iowa

Picture from Wikimedia.

Picture from Wikimedia.

Recording over 2.3 million passengers & 130 million pounds of cargo per year, Des Moines International Airport is Iowa’s largest airport. Featuring two runways at over 9,000 feet (labelled 5/23 & 13/31), the airport averages over 80,000 airport operations per year and has 135 aircraft based at the field. Construction of the airport completed in 1933, after one year in development and featured their first passenger terminal not long after its completion. The airport was renamed from Des Moines Airport to the “International” symbol in 1986 to “acknowledge the presence of a US Customs Service Office” at the field.

American Airlines currently dominate the airport, handling 29% of all passenger traffic going to and from the airport on flights to Dallas Fort-Worth, Phoenix-Sky Harbor, Charlotte, Chicago & Washington-National. Delta Airlines is the second big hitter out of Des Moines handling 24% of all traffic to destinations such as Atlanta, Detroit, Minneapolis, New York and Salt Lake City respectively. Other than that, carriers such as Allegiant Air, Southwest Airlines, Frontier & United also operate out of the airport. On a cargo perspective, carriers such as AirNet Express, FedEx, Flight Express & UPS Airlines operate flights to Denver-Centennial, DuPage, Omaha, Rochester, Memphis, Fort Dodge, Kansas-City-Downtown, St Louis-Cahokia, Waterloo, Burbank. Newark, Sacramento, Spokane, Philadelphia and Portland.


General Mitchell International Airport – Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Picture from Wikimedia.

Picture from Wikimedia.

Featuring five asphalt/concrete runways (labelled 01L/19R, 01R/19L, 07L/25R, 07R/25L & 13/31), General Mitchell International Airport is home to over 100,000 aircraft operations per year, bases over 100 aircraft and carries an average of 6.5 million passengers per year. The airport has 48 gates and 40 jetbridges on their three concourses and only features one terminal. The airfield’s history dates back to the 1920s as Hamilton Airport as it was privately owned by Thomas Hamilton. Milwaukee County eventually bought the land in October 1926 and then opened the airfield as Hirschbuehl Farmhouse in July 1927. The commercial terminal opened in 1955 and was formerly a hub for AirTran Airways, Frontier and Midwest Airlines. After the Southwest Airlines/AirTran merger, Milwaukee became a focus for Southwest in terms of passenger enplanements and deplanements.

General Mitchell is home to Air Canada Express, Alaska Airlines, American, Apple Vacations (Operated by Norwegian Air Shuttle), Delta, Frontier, FunJet (Also operated by Norwegian Air Shuttle), OneJet, Southwest Airlines and United Airlines on flights to destinations such as Toronto, Seattle, Cancún, Boston, New York, Puerto Vallarta, Punta Cana, Los Angeles and many more destinations. Cargo operations are unique for the airport as 10 cargo operators operate from the airport, being AirNet Systems, Berry Aviation, DHL, FedEx, Flight Line, Freight Runners Express, Martinaire, Pro Aire Cargo, Royal Air Freight & UPS Airlines. The airport’s best years of operation were between 2010/11 when they were averaging between 9.5-9.8 million passengers per year.

Dane County Regional Airport – Madison, Wisconsin

Picture from Wikimedia.

Picture from Wikimedia.

Formerly known as Truax Field, Dane County Regional Airport is a civil-military airport six miles to the northeast of Madison. The airport has three concrete runways (labelled 18/36 at 9,006 feet, 3/21 at 7,200 feet & 14/32 at 5,846 feet) and carries an average of 866,000 passengers per year from over 79,000 yearly aircraft operations. The airfield has 167 aircraft based at the field. Dane County was known as Truax Field in the 1940’s during the Second World War as it was activated as a U.S Army Air Forces and was used by the Army Air Force Eastern Technical Training Center which was used to train radio operators and mechanics. By 1943, the field became home for training these mechanics and operators on the B-29 Superfortress equipment for the 334th Army Air Force Base Unit.

Away from the war-times, Dane County deals with passenger operations and cargo operations. Passenger carriers such as American Eagle, Delta Airlines, Frontier & United operate flights from the airfield to Charlotte, Chicago, Atlanta, Minneapolis, Denver, Orlando, Newark and many more destinations. For cargo, FedEx dominates the market with flights to Appleton, Cedar Rapids, Des Moines, Indianapolis, Memphis, Sioux Falls & Mosinee. Freight Runners Express only operate two flights to Milwaukee and Wisconsin Dells.

Green-Bay Austin Straubel International Airport – Brown County, Wisconsin

Picture from Wikimedia.

Picture from Wikimedia.

Green Bay International is a commercial general aviation based airfield with two concrete runways (labelled 18/36 at 8,399 feet & 6/24 at 7,699 feet). The field is home to 112 aircraft as well as an average of over 48,000 aircraft operations per year. In the year ending August 2016, the airfield recorded 276,000 passengers depart from the airfield in the 12 month period (August 2015-16). The top destination is Chicago O’Hare with American and United Airlines. They collectively carry an average of over 90,000 passengers per year between the two airports and the two carriers.

Carriers such as American Eagle, Delta & United dominate the airport with services to Chicago, Detroit, Minneapolis & Atlanta respectively. For cargo, AirNet Systems operate services to Milwaukee, while Freight Runners Express operates routes to Milwaukee also and Appleton. Pro Aire Cargo also has services to Iron Mountain too. Out of the 112 aircraft based at the field, 50 are single-engine, 38 are multi-engine, 18 are jets, five being helicopters and one being an ultra-light.

Appleton International Airport – Outagamie County, Wisconsin

Picture from Appleton Airport.

Picture from Appleton Airport.

Appleton International is the final airport of interest in this state series. The field features two concrete runways (labelled 3/21 at 8,002 feet & 12/30 at 6,501 feet) and is host to over half a million passengers served per year on average. The airfield also averages 33,000 aircraft operations per year and bases 71 aircraft at the Outagamie County-based airport. The airfield opened in 1936 as a municipal airport. The airport has been subjected to expansion over the past 40 years, featuring four expansions between 1983 and 2001. The airport has planned over the course of the year to build new facilities such as a third baggage claim belt, meeting rooms and a brand new restaurant that will provide onlookers with a view of the airfield and its operations.

Three commercial carriers and three cargo carriers operate to the field. Allegiant Air, Delta Airlines & United Express currently operate flights to Las Vegas, Orlando, Phoenix, St Petersburg, Atlanta, Detroit, Minneapolis and Chicago. FedEx Express/Feeder, Freight Runners Express & Pro Aire Cargo operate services to Fargo, Indianapolis, Madison, Memphis, Milwaukee, Minneapolis, Green Bay, Marquette & Rhinelander. The most popular destination is Detroit which carries an average of 55,000 passengers per year under Delta’s operations from Appleton alone.

Overall, these two states have a lot going on in terms of the aviation industry. Each state contains some major airports which operate to many destinations across the country as well as the Caribbean. The next boost for the airports in the two states is the expansion of their growth into the international market and to hit some of the heavy hitting destinations across the globe.

James Field
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  • James Field

    James is a passionate AvGeek who has been actively spotting for years. James has been an Aviation Enthusiast for 7 years and has a fond likening to Concorde! James hopes to grow in the aviation industry with journalism being his primary focus.

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