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10/17/03 Wisconsin protests

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Wisconsin wants Meigs tower reopened

Chicago Sun-Times

October 17, 2003
BY ROBERT C. HERGUTH Transportation Reporter

The state of Wisconsin is asking the federal government to reopen Meigs Field's air traffic control tower, even if the lakefront airport remains closed, so the tower can serve a crucial "traffic cop" function for pilots.

Meigs was closed by Mayor Daley more than six months ago, and the feds plan to revoke the Class D designation that indicates the airspace is controlled by a tower.

As part of the revocation process -- which is portrayed as a housekeeping move -- the federal government solicited comments. Wisconsin's Department of Transportation sent letters to the U.S. Department of Transportation and the Federal Aviation Administration asking that the tower be reopened or, at the very least, the designation of the airspace remain the same.

"The role of the Meigs ATCT [air traffic control tower] was much larger and more important than just sequencing aircraft into and out of the airport," wrote Gary L. Dikkers, airspace manager for the Wisconsin agency.

Dikkers told the Sun-Times the requests are "probably unrealistic," but the tower was key for small planes flying from Wisconsin to and through Chicago.

FAA spokeswoman Elizabeth Isham Cory said, "We customarily put towers where we have airports." As for the airspace issue, "it's definitely too early to have any response."

A mayoral spokeswoman echoed the latter sentiment.

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Wisconsin Wants Meigs Tower Back


OCT. 20, 2003

It's not just Chicago-area pilots who miss Meigs Field.

The state of Wisconsin has formally asked the FAA to reopen the Meigs control tower even though the runway is unusable. Wisconsin transportation officials say the tower did a lot more than regulate the comings and goings at Meigs, before Mayor Richard Daley sent in heavy equipment to destroy it on March 30. They claim the tower helped pilots from Wisconsin navigate the route along Lake Michigan that small aircraft must use to avoid conflicts with airliners using O'Hare.

"It helped people fly through Chicago without having to run into hurdles," said Gary Dikkens, airspace manager for the Wisconsin Department of Transportation. Meanwhile, efforts continue to convince politicians to reopen Meigs.

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Wisconsin says pilots need Meigs

Transportation officials ask FAA to reopen tower


October 17, 2003
By Kelly Quigley

Private aircraft owners in Illinois aren’t the only ones who say they're inconvenienced by the closure of Meigs Field. Wisconsin transportation officials want to reopen the shuttered airfield’s traffic control tower to help pilots better navigate Chicago’s lakefront.

Gary Dikkens, airspace manager for the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, says it’s critical to reopen the air traffic control tower, which guided planes flying from Wisconsin to Gary, Ind., and other southeast destinations. Small planes heading south or southeast have to use the lakefront route because they are prohibited from flying near O’Hare International Airport.

The tower played a bigger role than just controlling takeoffs and landings at Meigs,” Mr. Dikkens says. "It helped people fly through Chicago without having to run into hurdles.” Having a control tower would be safer for pilots who are navigating the lakeshore now.

In a Sept. 19, letter to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and U.S. Department of Transportation, Mr. Dikkens said it's in the public’s best interest to maintain Class D air space at Meigs, even if the airstrip never reopens. Class D designates space that is monitored by an air traffic control tower.

“Once that Class D airspace is gone, it’s almost impossible to get it back,” he says.

An FAA spokeswoman in Chicago said the agency is reviewing Wisconsin's request.

The mayor closed down the lakefront airport on March 30, ordering demolition crews to disable its runway.

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