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.
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.
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.
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.