Oil Field Engine News

The Lunkenheimer Co part three

| July 2006


In May 1927, the transatlantic flight of the Lone Eagle, Charles Lindbergh, excited the world and gave a great boost to civilian aviation.

It excited Lunkenheimer, too. Several of the fuel cocks and fittings used in the Spirit of St. Louis were of Lunkenheimer manufacture, which the company was not slow to advertise. By then, the Lunken family had already developed a special concern with aviation.

President Eshelby Lunken, who had a pilot's license, formed the Grisard Co. in 1921 to build an airport in the Cincinnati suburb of Blue Ash. It was named after 1st Lt. John K. Grisard, who was the only Cincinnati pilot killed in World War I.

Four years later, Eshelby decided the Blue Ash location was not practical. He then interested his father in this new sport and business. In 1925 he prevailed on him to buy 200 acres of land in Turkey Bottoms, just west of the Little Miami River, and develop it into an airfield in 1928. Eshelby's father leased this land to the Grisard Field Co., who moved their operations to this new area and named it Lunken Airport.

Two years later, Edmund Lunken acquired the airport again and donated it to the City of Cincinnati. The city fathers then purchased an additional 870 acres of adjacent land and improved the site so that it could accommodate scheduled commercial aircraft. The new field was dedicated in September 1930 in a three-day gala celebration graced by speeches, Paul Whiteman and his band playing at the airport between stunt flights and special showings of the aviation film Hell's Angels at the Schubert Theatre. One of its stars, Jean Harlow, awarded prizes to stunt fliers. Charles Lindbergh sent his regrets.

The airport's low elevation, however, caused some problems, and when the Ohio River flood waters spilled onto the field, wags called it "Sunken Lunken." Yet Lunken Airport served the city well during the early days of commercial aviation and continues to this day to provide a convenient haven for general aircraft.