My attempt to document 40 sunrises in Eastern Cincinnati. Spring 2011.

Sunrise 39: Lunken Airfield (Magnificent Blue Front, Sunny Alms Park)

After visiting Lunken Airfield yesterday morning, I thought that it would be nice to mix it up and try to catch the sunrise on the bike path that circles the airport. I set my alarm for 5:50am, giving myself about 25 minutes with a snooze to get down to Lunken. The sky had a shine of light orange and a mix of clouds so I wasn’t sure if it would be a worthwhile endeavor or not. There was the chance that there would be thick fog and I wouldn’t even be able to see the sky from down in the river basin at the airport. I decided the risk was worth it and headed down the mountain to the pre-glacial Ohio River valley where Lunken Airport snuggly sits underneath the Alms Park lookout.

On the right of the Lunken Terminal there is a levee that runs south along the western side of the air field. On top of the levee is the first leg of the 5 mile bike trail. There is a thick line of trees on either side of the trail. To the inside of the trail, the airfield side, there are several generous cutouts in the forest that allow you to look head on into the three main runways. There are also several groups of benches, both at the beginning of the trail and at the back corner of the trail, that provide a great resting place to watch planes come in and take off.

As I approached t the airfield I decided to pass the first set of benches that I sat at yesterday morning to continue about a mile down the trail to the benches that sit snugly at the south west corner of the field. The runway that intersects those benches is known as the “jet runway” so I was hoping to see some commuter jets come in or take off over me. I didn’t realize at the time that the sun would no longer be head on.

Approaching final set of benches at the jet runway

Dark Morning; Runway Lights

The lights that I can see from Ault Park’s Heekin Overlook – up close. Check out the Madeira apartment building in the background. That sucker is far away but you can see it anywhere on the east side if you look for it.

If you’re on the front page, click to continue. Beautiful shots of the blue cumulus skies that showed up a bit later –>

The location of my first cup of coffee.

The sun is back there somewhere. This is a full 15 minutes after sunrise.

Highlights in the upper atmosphere above me. These whispy clouds were starting to really move through quickly

I arrived at the benches after an exciting game of “dodge the fallen branches”. I even had to stop and remove a young fallen tree from the trail. The sky was a light overcast with highlights of faint orange and yellow. I checked the clock – 6:25am, about 7 minutes after sunrise. I was a bit late, but it didn’t matter because there was no real sunrise to speak of. Because the sky was still dark, however, the runway was still lit up with its navigation lights.

Bike on the path, looking back to where we came

After sitting for a few minutes, I packed up and started to head back. Not a single plane took off!

Looking east at the beginning of the levee trail. Note to self: “Night Snapshot” w/ “infinity focus” mode is awesome for catching those distant clouds.

This same picture should be comparable to the picture I took yesterday morning from the same location (click to enlarge):

By now the sun had *just* started to make an appearance, and it was at this point I realized that if I were to get a decent picture of the sun, should it decide to come out, the first set of benches provided a better view.

Planes in the morning

Getting them ready for the flight

Orange Sunrise

As I traveled back down the bike trail, I started to hear the sounds of jet engines being warmed up. Three commuter jets were being prepared for their morning flights. They ended up taking off from the runway that intersects the benches I just came from, so I suppose I’ll have to save the airplane-taking-off-against-the-sunrise pictures for another day!


The white horizontal line that is in this picture is the Alms Park overlook. In about 15 minutes I’ll be sitting up there watching the sky.

The sky above the airfield was starting to brighten up a little bit but the skies were still dark with storm clouds. It was then that I turned around and was surprised to see that the sky above me had started to open up into a brilliant blue color!

Behind me, beautiful blue skies appear out of nowhere

Looking into the Ohio River towards downtown Cincinnati

It was still dark at this point; the blue was such a rich color

Blue skies over Lunken

I realized that at this point it is necessary for me to stop by Alms Park on the way home to get a higher view of this beautiful formation. The sky was changing quickly so I had to hurry.

Blue skies over Lunken, vertical

The storm cloud that was heading west left behind it an open sky that faded into the blue of a clear summer day. This formation was moving along quickly, revealing more blue sky by the minute. It truly was a beautiful sight, something that was utterly unexpected.

At the Alms Overlook, just as the cloud formation moved into the eastern sky

The view from Alms Park. You can see the Ohio River straight ahead. This is the overlook we saw earlier as the “horizontal white line”.

The trusty steed in the morning light.

I ended up making it to the park just in time to get a single picture of the cloud before the sun was unobstructed. The morning sun, having no more clouds in the way, bathed the Airfield and Alms Park in a soft yellow-orange morning light. Was this the same morning that only 15 minutes prior was gray, gloomy, and dark?

Iconic shot of Lunken in the sun. The tree line to the right behind the buildings is where the bike trail runs. The first shots were taken in the top right of the airfield, the later ones were taken at the bottom right. The jet runway (with the lights we saw at dawn) is at the back of the airfield on the back side of the “pond”.

Over the past two days we’ve had several high-intensity storm fronts moving through the area. Last night just 50 miles north in Dayton, OH there were reports of baseball sized hail. We missed most of that storm but caught the bottom piece of a second front that came through over the night. I’ve been incredibly lucky over the past few mornings to have such favorable conditions during such a stormy season. Let’s hope tomorrow, number 40, is even better 🙂

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2 responses

  1. Pingback: Sunrise 40: Ault Park (Achievement Unlocked! and Alms Park Sunset #3 with Mountainous Cumulus Clouds) « Ault Park Sunrise

  2. Pingback: Sunrise 43: Alms & Anderson Park (Marina & Ohio River, Baby Snapping Turtle (aww!), Downtown Skyline, and the Meridian) « Ault Park Sunrise

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