Barnstormer Diner at OSU Airport

Eat hearty breakfast, watch airplanes come and go

My kids love pancakes, and they love going to airports. After a recent adventure, they now have a newfound love for the Ohio State University Airport, where they can devour blueberry pancakes inside an aviation-themed diner and watch from an observation tower as planes take off and land.

The small airport, seven miles north of the OSU campus, also offers free popcorn and coloring books, making it a fun family destination, especially on weekend mornings. That’s when Jack and Benny’s Barnstormer Diner opens at 7 a.m. for breakfast served with a Spanish flair. Think huevos rancheros with spicy sausage.

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The restaurant is operated by Geno and Hilda Garcia-Mandriotti, owners of the popular Jack and Benny’s in Clintonville. Geno graduated from Ohio State with a bachelor’s degree in aviation management and obtained his pilot’s license from the university’s training program – making the location for his newest restaurant rather fitting.

Framed pictures of aircraft and famed pilots such as Eddie Rickenbacker adorn the eatery’s walls, and guests can peek into the airplane hangar to check out several single-engine planes.

The airport terminal is adjacent to the restaurant. Serve yourself some popcorn and browse merchandise in the Pilot Shop, a display case with OSU and aviation-themed merchandise.

Climb several flights of steps into the observation tower for a 360-degree view of the airport, ramp and runways. Listen to pilots communicate over the radio and sign the guestbook, too.

The airport was established in 1942 as the site of the university’s first pilot training program. It was named Don Scott Field a year later in honor of the acclaimed football player who died in a bomber crash in England that same year.

Housing 200 aircraft, the airport ranks fourth in Ohio for the number of takeoffs and landings – about 75,000 per year, according to its website. Those using the airport include students, corporations and pleasure flyers, and even manatees being transferred to and from the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium.

Free tours are available by appointment.

The Ohio State University Airport is located at 2160 W. Case Rd., Columbus. Jack and Benny’s Barnstormer Diner is open 7 a.m.-3 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 8 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. The observation tower is open daily 7 a.m.-11 p.m.

For more information, visit

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