Milwaukee Mitchell International Airport
Mitchell Field
Milwaukee Mitchell International Airport Logo.svg
General Mitchell International Airport - Wisconsin.jpg
2006 USGS orthophoto
Airport typePublic
OwnerMilwaukee County
OperatorMilwaukee County Airport Department
Location5300 South Howell Avenue
Milwaukee, Wisconsin, United States
Hub forFreight Runners Express
Elevation AMSL729 ft / 222 m
Coordinates42°56′50″N 087°53′48″W / 42.94722°N 87.89667°W / 42.94722; -87.89667
FAA airport diagram

FAA airport diagram
MKE is located in Wisconsin
Location of airport in Wisconsin, United States
MKE is located in the United States
MKE (the United States)
Direction Length Surface
ft m
01L/19R 9,990 3,045 Asphalt/concrete
01R/19L 4,183 1,275 Asphalt/concrete
07L/25R 4,800 1,463 Asphalt/concrete
07R/25L 8,300 2,530 Asphalt/concrete
13/31 5,535 1,687 Asphalt/concrete
Number Length Surface
ft m
H1 100 30 Asphalt/concrete
Statistics (2021)
Total passengers4,524,345
Aircraft operations87,457
Cargo (lb.)169,897,104
Source: Milwaukee Mitchell International Airport[1]

Milwaukee Mitchell International Airport (IATA: MKE, ICAO: KMKE, FAA LID: MKE) is a civil-military airport 5 nautical miles (9.3 km; 5.8 mi) south of downtown Milwaukee, Wisconsin, United States.[2] It is included in the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) National Plan of Integrated Airport Systems for 2021–2025, in which it is categorized as a medium-hub primary commercial service facility.[3] Milwaukee Mitchell International Airport covers 2,180 acres (880 ha) and has five asphalt and concrete runways.

The airport is named in honor of United States Army General Billy Mitchell, who was raised in Milwaukee and is often regarded as the father of the United States Air Force.[4][5] Along with being the primary airport for Milwaukee, Mitchell International is also used by travelers throughout Southern and Eastern Wisconsin and Northern Illinois.[6] 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.[7]


Plaque in Concourse E, dedicated by the defunct North Central Airlines
Plaque in Concourse E, dedicated by the defunct North Central Airlines

The original airfield was established in 1920 as Hamilton Airport by local business owner and aviator, Thomas F. Hamilton. Milwaukee County purchased the land on October 19, 1926, and renamed the airport Milwaukee County Airport.[5] 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 native and air power advocate Brigadier General William "Billy" Mitchell.[8] 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.[9]

The present terminal opened on July 20, 1955, and was designed by Leigh Fisher and Associates.[10] It was renovated and expanded in 1985, designed by Miller, Meier, Kenyon, Cooper Architects and Planners Inc.[11] 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.[8] The airport was formerly a hub for AirTran Airways, Frontier Airlines and Midwest Airlines. The airport is owned and operated by Milwaukee County, but some Milwaukee business leaders and politicians have advocated privatization or leasing it to a third party for financial reasons.[12]

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;[13][14][15][16] the old name is still used by the FAA and US government.


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 was also a "Master Plan" idea to increase the 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.[17] 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.[18]

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.[19] The new terminal was planned to open in 2020 after the demolition of Concourse E is completed.[20] 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 2021 and likely concluding in mid-2022.[21] In May 2020, Milwaukee County announced with the COVID-19 pandemic severely reducing the airport's operations and de facto ending international service temporarily, that the start of the project would be postponed; a new start date is yet to be determined.[22]



Milwaukee Mitchell International Airport has one terminal with two concourses and 38 gates.[23] All international arrivals lacking border pre-clearance must pass through the International Arrivals Building.

The terminal houses the Mitchell Gallery of Flight (a non-profit museum) and a USO room on the concession level, along with 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.[24] There are play areas for children throughout the facility.[25] 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.[26] Inside the security perimeter is a large clay "peace mural" from Leningrad, now Saint Petersburg in Russia. Created by Soviet citizens, it was exchanged for an equivalent clay mural made by Americans. The Milwaukee mural was covered up during the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine.[27]

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.[28]

Ground transportation

The Milwaukee Airport Rail Station provides service to Milwaukee as well as Chicago.
The Milwaukee Airport Rail Station provides service to Milwaukee as well as Chicago.

Milwaukee Mitchell International Airport is accessible from I-41/I-94 and WIS 38 via WIS 119.


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.

Airlines and destinations


Air Canada Express Toronto–Pearson (resumes July 1, 2022) [36]
Alaska Airlines Seattle/Tacoma [37]
American Airlines Charlotte, Dallas/Fort Worth, Phoenix–Sky Harbor [38]
American Eagle Charlotte, Chicago–O'Hare, Dallas/Fort Worth, Philadelphia
Seasonal: Miami
Delta Air Lines Atlanta, Detroit, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Salt Lake City [39]
Delta Connection Boston, Detroit, Minneapolis/St. Paul, New York–JFK, New York–LaGuardia, Salt Lake City [39]
Frontier Airlines Denver, Las Vegas, Orlando, Tampa
Seasonal: Fort Myers
JetBlue Boston, New York–JFK [41]
Southwest Airlines Atlanta, Baltimore, Dallas–Love, Denver, Fort Myers, Las Vegas, Nashville, Orlando, Phoenix–Sky Harbor, St. Louis, Tampa, Washington–National
Seasonal: Cancún, Fort Lauderdale, Los Angeles, Miami, Sarasota
Spirit Airlines Cancún, Fort Lauderdale, Las Vegas, Los Angeles (resumes August 11, 2022), Orlando, Tampa
Seasonal: Fort Myers, Myrtle Beach, Phoenix–Sky Harbor
Sun Country Airlines Seasonal: Cancún, Fort Myers, Las Vegas, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Phoenix–Sky Harbor [44]
United Airlines Denver [45]
United Express Chicago–O'Hare, Denver, Houston–Intercontinental, Newark [45]


Cargo ramp at Mitchell International Airport
Cargo ramp at Mitchell International Airport
AirNet Express Chicago–Midway, Green Bay, St. Paul–Downtown
Berry Aviation Chicago–Executive
DHL Aviation Cincinnati, Winnipeg
FedEx Express Appleton, Chicago–O'Hare, Indianapolis, Memphis, Minneapolis/St. Paul
FedEx Feeder Chicago–Midway, Escanaba, Houghton, Iron Mountain, Marquette, Rhinelander
Freight Runners Express Appleton, Green Bay, Madison, Middleton, Mineral Point, Mosinee, Oshkosh, Peoria, Rhinelander, Rochester (MN), Sheboygan County Memorial Airport, West Chicago, Wisconsin Dells
Martinaire Iron Mountain, Ironwood
Pro Aire Cargo Rhinelander
Royal Air Freight Pontiac
UPS Airlines Louisville
Seasonal: Minneapolis/St. Paul


Passenger numbers

Annual passenger traffic at MKE airport. See source Wikidata query.

Airline market share

Largest airlines at MKE (March 2021 – February 2022)[46]
Rank Airline Passengers Share
1 Southwest 1,968,000 40.73%
2 Delta 737,000 15.26%
3 SkyWest 550,000 11.39%
4 American 373,000 7.72%
5 Frontier 248,000 5.13%
6 Other 955,000 19.77%

Top destinations

Busiest domestic routes from MKE (MMarch 2021 – February 2022)[46]
Rank Airport Passengers Carriers
1 Atlanta, Georgia 276,750 Delta, Southwest
2 Denver, Colorado 216,890 Frontier, Southwest, United
3 Orlando, Florida 193,930 Frontier, Southwest, Spirit
4 Phoenix, Arizona 189,430 American, Southwest, Spirit
5 Las Vegas, Nevada 180,800 Frontier, Southwest, Spirit
6 Chicago–O'Hare, Illinois 144,710 American, United
7 Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota 121,370 Delta, Sun Country
8 Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas 106,140 American
9 Fort Myers, Florida 102,540 Frontier, Southwest, Spirit, Sun Country, United
10 Detroit, Michigan 100,710 Delta

Accidents and incidents

See also


Public Domain This article incorporates public domain material from the Air Force Historical Research Agency website

  2. ^ FAA Airport Form 5010 for MKE PDF, effective May 21, 2020.
  3. ^ "NPIAS Report 2021-2025 Appendix A" (PDF). Federal Aviation Administration. September 30, 2020. p. 111. Retrieved January 1, 2021.
  4. ^ Jones, Meg. "Milwaukee's Billy Mitchell predicted Pearl Harbor attack". Retrieved July 24, 2020.
  5. ^ a b Dorcey, John (February 16, 2011). "Milwaukee's First Airport". Retrieved July 18, 2020.
  6. ^ "Mitchell airport attracting more passengers from northern Illinois". Retrieved July 31, 2020.
  7. ^ "Threaded Extremes". Retrieved June 26, 2017.
  8. ^ a b "Historic Markers – General Mitchell Field WI221". Milwaukee County Historical Society. 1978. Archived from the original on September 28, 2007. Retrieved October 4, 2006.
  9. ^ Cowley, Betty (2002). Stalag Wisconsin: Inside WW II prisoner-of-war camps. Oregon, Wisconsin: Badger Books. ISBN 1-878569-83-X. OCLC 48998212.
  10. ^ "Here's the Program". Milwaukee Journal. July 21, 1955. Retrieved June 16, 2012.
  11. ^ Jesen, Dean (July 25, 1985). "Airport Terminal to Open Sunday". The Milwaukee Sentinel. Retrieved June 16, 2012.
  12. ^ Kirchen, Rich (September 21, 2008). "Lubar: Sell Airport to Eliminate Milwaukee County Deficit". Milwaukee Business Journal. Retrieved October 9, 2009.
  13. ^ Klopf, Rebecca (February 5, 2019). "Milwaukee airport quietly changes its name". NBC26. Retrieved February 6, 2019.
  14. ^ News, FOX6. "Mitchell International Airport drops 'General' from name, adds Milwaukee". NBC15. Retrieved February 6, 2019.
  15. ^ ""General" dropped from airport's name, now "Milwaukee Mitchell International Airport"". CBS58. February 5, 2019. Retrieved February 6, 2019.
  16. ^ Leary, Patrick. "MKE rebranding to Milwaukee Mitchell International Airport, dropping 'General'". Milwaukee Business Journal. Retrieved February 6, 2019.
  17. ^ "Master Plan Update". General Mitchell International Airport. July 28, 2006. Archived from the original (PDF) on April 14, 2012. Retrieved February 11, 2008.
  18. ^ "Mitchell proposes closing one concourse". Milwaukee Business Journal. October 5, 2012. Retrieved September 13, 2014.
  19. ^ "Milwaukee County's 2018 budget includes $25 million for new terminal at Mitchell International Airport". Retrieved November 27, 2017.
  20. ^ "5040-Airport Budget Report" (PDF). p. 5. Retrieved May 2, 2018.
  21. ^ Leary, Patrick (October 16, 2018). "Process to turn shuttered Mitchell airport concourse into new international terminal begins". Milwaukee Business Journal. Retrieved September 10, 2019.
  22. ^ Naczek, Margaret. "Mitchell airport reports 96% drop in passengers in April". Milwaukee Business Journal. Retrieved June 8, 2020. The airport recently reported that as a result of the drastic passenger traffic declines, it had to postpone the start of its E Concourse construction, which would transform the concourse into an international terminal.
  23. ^ "INTERACTIVE TERMINAL GUIDE". Retrieved July 18, 2020.
  24. ^ "The Challenge of Airport Bookselling", Publishers Weekly, July 13, 1984
  25. ^ Snyder, Molly (May 21, 2015). "Mitchell airport boasts world's only "recombobulation area" signs". Retrieved April 15, 2018.
  26. ^ "State Historical marker #221" (PDF). Wisconsin History. Retrieved September 27, 2008.
  27. ^ Horne, Michael. "Plenty of Horne: Airport's Soviet Peace Mural Covered Up". Urban Milwaukee. Retrieved March 22, 2022.
  28. ^ "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
  29. ^ "Wisconsin Bus Charters". Badger Coaches. Archived from the original on September 28, 2008. Retrieved September 27, 2008.
  30. ^ "MKE Airport Connection". Airport Connection. Retrieved September 27, 2008.
  31. ^ "MCTS". Milwaukee County Transit System. Retrieved September 15, 2012.
  32. ^ "Milwaukee Airport Station". Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WISDOT). Archived from the original on September 12, 2008. Retrieved September 27, 2008.
  33. ^ "Amtrak Thruway I-41 Bus Service". Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WISDOT).
  34. ^ "Wisconsin Coach service". Coach USA. Archived from the original on September 16, 2008. Retrieved September 27, 2008.
  35. ^ "Lamers Connect". Lamers Bus Lines. Retrieved September 15, 2012.
  36. ^ "Air Canada Affirms Market Leadership by Expanding its North American Network this Summer as Recovery Accelerates - Feb 22, 2022".
  37. ^ "Flight Timetable". Archived from the original on February 2, 2017. Retrieved January 29, 2017.
  38. ^ a b "Flight schedules and notifications". Archived from the original on February 2, 2017. Retrieved January 7, 2017.
  39. ^ a b "FLIGHT SCHEDULES". Archived from the original on June 21, 2015. Retrieved January 7, 2017.
  40. ^ "Frontier". Archived from the original on September 12, 2017. Retrieved January 7, 2017.
  41. ^ "JetBlue Flight Schedule". Retrieved October 25, 2021.
  42. ^ "Southwest Airlines - Check Flight Schedules". Retrieved October 25, 2021.
  43. ^ "Spirit Airlines Route Map". Retrieved October 25, 2021.
  44. ^ "Sun Country Website".
  45. ^ a b "Timetable". Archived from the original on January 28, 2017. Retrieved January 7, 2017.
  46. ^ a b "Milwaukee International (MKE) Summary Statistics". Bureau Of Transportation Statistics. July 2021. Retrieved November 2, 2021.
  47. ^ "Fred Miller, son die in fiery plane crash". Milwaukee Sentinel. December 18, 1954. p. 1.
  48. ^ "Fred C. Miller, son killed in air crash". Milwaukee Journal. December 18, 1954. p. 1.
  49. ^ "Fred Miller, Jr., versatile athlete". Milwaukee Sentinel. December 18, 1954. p. 2.
  50. ^ "Pilots buried side by side". Milwaukee Journal. December 20, 1954. p. 2.
  51. ^ "CAB findings in Miller crash". Milwaukee Sentinel. March 18, 1955. p. 1, part 2.
  52. ^ "Aircraft Accident Boeing KC-97". Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved May 14, 2015.
  53. ^ Hijacking description at the Aviation Safety Network
  54. ^ "Midwest Express Airlines Flight 105". National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB). Retrieved September 27, 2008.
  55. ^ Francey, Dave (February 21, 2019). "Stories of Oshkosh - Dave Francey". Inspire EAA. Retrieved February 26, 2019.
  56. ^ 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.
  57. ^ 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)
  58. ^ "Cargo Planes Collide, Burn at Milwaukee Airport". Fox News. January 24, 2007. Archived from the original on October 22, 2012. Retrieved September 28, 2008.

Further reading