ABOUT AVIATION CLE
Aviation CLE grew out of Vision CLE that was founded in 2018 by three people who were born in and still live in Northeast Ohio—Brad, Doug, and Paul. We love traveling, airlines, and all things airports, and are the type of people who would rather spend their spare time in airports exploring the facility, rather than hanging out at the gate, airline lounge, restaurant, or bar.
We have great pride in our region, from the hard working people who live here, to the world class orchestra and incredible art museum, to a park system that is second to none, to the sports team that have had some success lately (to Clevelanders, sports success is all relative).
Unfortunately our pride ends at the entrance to Cleveland Hopkins International Airport—especially when we pick up out of town visitors or overhear conversations from flight crews. We travel all over the country and we can’t think of another airport of similar size that is as dated as our airport (well—we can think of a few, but they are all cutting the ribbons shortly on major overhauls). Heck, even our neighbors and friendly rivals in Pittsburgh are planning a $1B significant overhaul of their facility even though it is only 25 years old and far more modern already than Hopkins.
The main terminal at CLE was built in the 1950s and remodeled in the 1970s and in 2006 (mostly cosmetic changes). The concourses were last updated in the early 1980s (Concourses A and B) and early 1990s (Concourse C). The “new” building, Concourse D, is now empty, nearing 25 years old and likely obsolete in its current configuration.
Think about how much air travel has changed in that time. Cleveland is no longer a hub like it has been for much of its history. US carriers have undergone consolidation and security has been much stricter since 2001. Ultra low cost carriers such as Frontier and Spirit are now a significant part of the industry. Smaller high performance aircraft make it easier for carriers like Icelandair to service Europe nonstop from Cleveland.
We originally formed Vision CLE to make the case to the residents, civic leaders, and politicians of Northeast Ohio that Cleveland Hopkins International Airport is in need of significant modernization, likely to mean a full replacement of the terminal. We want a new Hopkins to be part of the civic dialogue, just as much sports stadium upgrades, a new MetroHealth, and a replacement for the Justice Center. As Hopkins embarks on its current master facility plan, due in early 2021, we think the airport needs to think big, not make incremental improvements to a very old design.
We recognize that Cleveland and Northeast Ohio have many challenges—schools, population loss, the decline of manufacturing, and so forth. Citizens will justifiably feel other issues are much higher priority than building a 21st Century Airport. Part of our job is to educate the public that the airport is required by law to stand on its own financially, without any contributions from taxpayers.
While the original purpose of Vision CLE has waned recently due to changes in our lives, the start of a new master planning process, as well as the major changes to the aviation industry wrought by the recent COVID-19 pandemic, I started Aviation CLE to look at commercial aviation more broadly and share my passion for it with a particular focus on its rich, innovative and colorful history in Northeast Ohio.
I invite you to contact me with feedback, corrections, story ideas, photographs, etc., make guest contributions, or post comments on the blog.
Thank you for reading
Paul J. Soprano
Aviation Geek and Amateur Airport Historian