While Saturday’s 148th running of the Kentucky Derby was a shocking win for 80-1 odds longshot Rich Strike, Atlantic Aviation, which operates the lone FBO at Louisville Muhammad Ali International Airport (KSDF), saw a rich strike of its own due to private aviation traffic being drawn to the event. The service provider said it saw 812 landings at KSDF over the four days bracketing the race.
As Rich Strike crossed the finish line and stunned the crowd at Churchill Downs, there were dozens of aircraft on the ground at the airport, pushing available parking to max capacity and requiring additional aircraft to drop their passengers and go. Atlantic has operated the FBO at KSDF since 2005 and, according to Jay Hamby, the FBO chain’s senior v-p, this year’s Run for the Roses was “the biggest Derby we have ever seen.” It brought in additional staffers from its other locations to handle the surge.
FlightAware’s special event tracking website noted that more than 1,400 business aviation flights arrived at KSDF and the three closest gateways—Bowman Field in Louisville, Blue Grass Airport in Lexington, and Indiana’s Clark Regional Airport—between May 4 and May 8. That represents a marked increase from the previous Derby record of 950 set in 2018.