Meigs Field

I had the pleasure of visiting Chicago for two days with my girlfriend. We had a great time, the weather was perfect and we were able to see all the sights on our list, including the former location of Meigs Field Airport (KCGX). Some history:

At one time, this was the busiest single strip airport in the United States. It’s 3000′ foot runway gave plenty of room both GA as well as commercial operators to use the airport. It also had 4 helicopter landing areas.

meigs.jpg

The Airport as it appeared in 2002

When I was a young lad, I used to play a lot of MS flight sim. The default airport you would start at is lined up on runway 36 at Meigs.

meigsfs.jpg

We all remember this screen, don’t we?

7 years ago the mayor of the city decided to illegally close and bulldoze down the airport overnight leaving 16 aircraft stranded.

There was an outrage from the public as well as the GA community. The FAA fined the city $33,000. This was the maximum fine that was allowed by law for not giving the FAA the required notice for an airport closure.

IMG_1415.JPG

Looking down runway 36 today
.

Sara and I spent about 40 min on the island, doing a quick walk around. The place was completely empty of people. Sara commented that the island would be better used if it wasn’t just a large field of grass. I suspect that the most use this island ever saw, was as an Airport.

It was a sad day in the history of general aviation and one I hope is never repeated. Chicago reminded me a lot of Toronto, and it would be a shame to see something similar happen to Toronto Island Airport (CYTZ).

One good item that has come out of this is the FAAs “Meigs Legacy Provision”. At the time, the FAA was only allowed to fine $1,100 per day for not giving the required notice of an airport closure (with a published IFR approach). The provision increased the fine to $10,000 a day. If this was the case back in 2002, the city would have been fined $300,000 instead of $33,000.

4 Responses

  1. Anonymous says:

    There were rumors they were going to build a casino on the north side of the field

  2. Julian says:

    Blake – not sure if you visited the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago – but they have a Boeing 737 suspended from the ceiling in their main exhibit hall. The way they got the 737 to the museum was by landing it at Meigs Field and then barging it across the bay. There was a video showing this at the museum. Quite interesting.

  3. Todd says:

    I too grew up flying my PC simulated Cessna from Meigs field. As a Chicago native I have never forgiven Mayor Daley for destroying the airport. It is sad when I fly along the lakeshore and look down at what is such a perfect space for a GA airport.
    I hope you enjoyed your flight. Next time you are in the area let me know and I will take you up for a flight along the lakefront.

  4. robbreid says:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NV4tgjSPgks
    Actually it’s a United B727. It was a very sad day when they bulldozed the airport!!! One of my favorite Falcon 10’s, N253K was written off at Meigs when they attempted to take off with the parking brake on!!! N253K was owned by Kellogs of Battle Creek MI, and was a regular at YYZ.