Tuesday, October 24, 2000

Airmail gets roomier nest

By Kristina Goetz
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        HEBRON — Baby ducks and chicks from Mount Healthy Hatchery, exotic birds to the Cincinnati Zoo, and Grandma's cremains to and from just about anywhere in the world.

        “Basically, anything but hazardous material under 70 pounds is what we can handle here,” said Mike Hamon, supervisor of the Cincinnati Air Mail Facility at the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport.

        Now, with a new, $9.5 million building, U.S. Postal Service employees at the airport will have more room to process the nearly 1 million letters, 50,000 pieces of Priority Mail and 6,000 pieces of Express Mail that come through the facility each day.

        The 57,300-square-foot building replaces one that has been used since 1971.

        The structure houses air transfer operations for first-class, Priority, Express and registered mail from 611 flights daily. These flights are regular passenger flights with added mail.

        Mail is unloaded from the planes and then sorted by ZIP code.

        Along with the letters to Aunt Edna and the bills to Cinergy, food, such as fruit and nuts, and animals — birds, worms, frogs and crickets — get sorted.

        “We make sure (packages) don't get broke open,” Mr. Hamon said. “I can tell you that.”

        The expansion is part of larger growth efforts under way at the airport.

        Plans for a $100 million runway await federal approval, which airport officials hope to get next year.

        Other expansion projects: a new hub for freight carrier DHL; Comair's new headquarters; Comair's flight simulator for its pilot school; a new hangar for private jets and Ashland Inc.'s corporate fleet; and new parking garages and lots.

        Several small airfields were used for early airmail flights, postal officials said.

        The first regular flights to Chicago began in 1922 from Grisard Field in Blue Ash. Lunken Field was used a few years later.

        By 1928, regular flights to Louisville and Cleveland were being made from Blue Ash.

        In 1972, the Cincinnati post office had new, round-trip air taxi routes assigned, including Cincinnati to Louisville, St. Louis, Columbus and Cleveland. These routes allowed for overnight delivery of airmail within 600 miles and second-day delivery to most major cities.


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