Friends of Meigs Field home page

Friends of Meigs Field
Dedicated to the restoration, preservation & improvement of Chicago's downtown airport



Meigs Defense Fund:
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 News from before 12/12/2003

Meigs news archive from before 12/12/03:

For more current news stories, click here.

Tribune photo, David Klobucar
Meigs scarred 3-30-03 
12/12/03:  Meigs Supporters Who Attended Yesterday's Hearing: Thank You!  

The Friends of Meigs' ad campaign paid off with a solid showing of Meigs supporters at the Chicago Park District budget hearing.

A giant thank you goes out to all of the Meigs supporters who made the effort to brave the sub-freezing temperatures and tempests downtown last night to attend the Chicago Park District's budget hearing.

Many Friends of Meigs and other Meigs supporters were in attendance and the result was striking.  Those who spoke did so eloquently, pointing out reasons to re-open Meigs ranging from the increased rescue times for the Chicago Fire Department's helicopter rescue squad that has been moved 72 blocks farther away from downtown (and over 22 miles from north side beaches) to the added congestion, runway incursions, delays, and errors at Midway and O'Hare since Meigs' closure, to the excitement of watching planes take off and land at 12th St. beach adjacent to Meigs.

Whenever a Meigs supporter would speak, they were greeted with enthusiastic applause.  When Meigs opponents spoke, the room reacted in stony silence.

A Park District representative called the Friends of Meigs midday on Thursday to offer an olive branch:  a full, unbroken15-minute slot at the head of the agenda to make the Parks and Planes presentation, in exchange for the organization's leaders pooling their time.  The Friends of Meigs accepted with the condition that those supporters not on the Executive Committee would still be free to speak as individual citizens.  Yet many Meigs supporters' names were never called, though they had waited patiently until all of the names had been called by 9:00 P.M. 

When the board attempted to adjourn the meeting without calling these individuals, an immediate reaction from the crowd brought a swift reversal, and most of those who had been left out were given the opportunity to speak after all.

The Park Board votes on the 2004 operating budget on Wednesday, December 17 (Kittyhawk Day).  A vote for the draft budget, which does not include plans to re-open Meigs Field--would not be fatal to the proposal, but would also not advance it.


Park District
Budget Hearing
Thursday, Dec. 11

"Parks over budget,
face big cuts"
- Chicago Tribune,
 Nov. 5

"Funding shortfall for parks;
District confronts unpleasant choices"
 - Crain's Chicago Business,
Nov. 24

"Parks facing a $30 million deficit"
 - Chicago parks superintendent David Doig, Nov. 6

"Re-opening Meigs Field will provide Park District
$139 million or more, erase budget gap,  create fabulous new park/airport"

- Friends of Meigs Field


Important!  Park District public meeting Thursday, Dec. 11...BE THERE!!!   Take a stand to re-open Meigs Field.  Park District public meeting Thursday, Dec. 11...BE THERE!!!  Bring millions to improve parks across Chicago.  Park District public meeting Thursday, Dec. 11...BE THERE!!!  Close the Park District $30 million budget gap.
Please attend the Park District public budget hearing,
This coming Thurs. 12/11

Speak Now!...and make a difference

PROBLEM: The Chicago Park District projects a $30 million deficit for 2004.

The Park District is proposing to raise property taxes for the third time in four years, raise fees, and cut services and payroll to make ends meet. The Park District does not have funds to repair, staff and maintain all of its currently existing parks and play lots, much less add parks in park-starved neighborhoods.

SOLUTION: Up to $139 Million or more from the Federal Aviation Administration.

read "Parks and Planes -- A Vision for Meigs Field and Northerly Island"HOW IT WORKS: Re-opening Meigs Field

The re-opening of Meigs Field by the Chicago Park District and the City of Chicago can provide up to $139 million or more in federal aviation funds to the Chicago Park District.

Details are in the Friends of Meigs Field's new plan: PARKS AND PLANES: A Vision for Meigs Field and Northerly Island

VIEW THE PLAN: Visit our website, sign a petition:

LET YOUR VOICE BE HEARD: Come to the Park District Budget Hearing

Chicago Park District Budget Hearing
Thursday, December 11, 6:00 P.M. (come early)
Park District Headquarters, 541 N. Fairbanks, Chicago, 8th Floor

Minority Neighborhoods Shortchanged

According to a September 21 article in the Chicago Tribune: More than 20 years after the federal government sued the Chicago Park District for neglecting fieldhouses and playgrounds in minority neighborhoods, teens in those areas are being shortchanged in recreational programs compared with peers in more affluent areas.   On top of that, over half of Chicago's neighborhoods--mostly in poorer neighborhoods--have fewer than 2 open space acres per thousand residents, the minimum standard, according to the Chicago City Space Plan published by the Park District and City of Chicago.

Neighborhoods like Logan Square, Hermosa, Humboldt Park and the Lower West Side have less than a single acre of open space per thousand residents, according to the report.  Meigs' neighborhood, where Mayor Richard M. Daley lives, has over 48 acres per thousand residents according to the same report, yet the Park District stands poised to spend millions converting Meigs to a park when the neighborhoods are crying out for relief.


The Friends of Meigs Field have developed an exciting proposal to replace the bulldozed runway at Meigs with a combination of new parkland and a newly opened airport, complete with an aviation museum for all Chicagoans.  The Bessie Coleman Skypark and Chicago Air Museum plan is a bold way to benefit park users and planes alike. It combines a working airport with new park features like meadows, nature walks, a harborside promenade and a learning center where our children can learn about careers in the exciting field of aviation. It also would again become the place where the Friends of Meigs Field and the Tuskegee Airmen have given over 6,000 Chicago kids their first flights.

The Best: $139 Million for Parks

More importantly, the plan would provide up to $139 million or more in federal aviation funds to the Chicago Park District. The Bessie Coleman Skypark would cost under $35 million to create (including replacing Meigs' runway,) leaving over $100 million for our local parks across Chicago.


Mayor Kennelly greets Merrill C. Meigs, one of the first to arrive at the new "Northerly Island Airport" (later Meigs Field)

55 years for Meigs Field

On Wednesday, Meigs Field supporters should take a moment to remember the 55th birthday of "The Coolest Little Airport on the Planet."  The airport was first conceived by Edward Bennett, Daniel Burnham's co-author of the Plan of Chicago in 1916. 

Throughout the 1920's there was considerable consensus to put Chicago's downtown airport on a proposed man-made island at Meigs' site, with the Mayor, City Council, State legislature, park commission and Chamber of Commerce all in agreement.  When the Great Depression intervened, the 1933-34 World's Fair was held on the property in an effort to "bootstrap" Chicago's economy.  After the Fair, the peninsula sat idle for 12 years until work began on additional landfill for the airport in 1946.

When the airport finally opened in 1948, Merrill C. Meigs, publisher of the Chicago Herald-American, one of the City's first Aero Commissioners, and a tireless booster for the airport flew his own Beechcraft into the spankin'-new Northerly Island Airport (later renamed in his honor.)  He was greeted by Mayor Kennelly, who was originally schedule to fly in with Meigs, but at the last moment had "pressing commitments" that prevented from taking the flight.


Holiday gift giving:  Meigs merchandise

Looking for great gifts for your aviation-oriented loved ones?

Shop online at the Friends of Meigs Field website.  Gifts include T-shirts, mugs, caps, posters, and more.  And your purchases will go to help our efforts to re-open Meigs.

Stocks are limited so order SOON!

Visit today.  (Order before 12/18/03 to receive items before Christmas.)


Chris Bennett at phonathon 12-7-03
Phonathon leader Chris Bennett mans the tally board.

Phonathon calls on members to attend hearing

Janet Wagner at phonathon 12-7-03.jpg (28325 bytes)Bill Whitney at phonathon 12-7-03.jpg (26900 bytes)Over the weekend, intrepid volunteers of the Friends of Meigs Field were on the phone...calling on supporters to attend this week's budget hearings.

Over 500 Friends of Meigs Field who live in Chicago were called, urging them to attend the Chicago Park District budget hearings on Thursday, 12/11 at 6 p.m.

Thank you to everyone who said they will attend.  For those who said they'd try, we sure hope you can make it.  And most of all, thank you to all who volunteered their time on a Sunday (during a Bears game, no less!) to participate in the phonathon.


Air traffic controller errors have risen as Meigs Field traffic has been re-routed to Midway, O'Hare

Record number of controller errors since Meigs closure
Blamed on increase in traffic at Midway, O'Hare

According to a new story in the Chicago Tribune, controller errors in the Chicago area are rising dramatically, as traffic increases at O'Hare and especially Midway airport in the wake of Meigs Field's closure.  According to the report:

"Regional controllers handling planes near O'Hare International Airport and Midway Airport committed 24 errors so far this year that resulted in violations of the required minimum spacing between aircraft, the Federal Aviation Administration said.

"Eight of the errors made by controllers at the FAA facility in Elgin occurred since Oct. 1, corresponding with a surge in air travel that is expected to continue expand next year.

"Four controller errors were made in 2002, and eight were made in 2001 at the facility. In 2000, before the steep downturn in the airline industry caused by the 9/11 terrorist attacks a year later, the FAA recorded 10 errors at the facility."

Read the entire story and similar recent stories at 2003-12-05_FAA_head_decries_closure.htm


The purpose of a reliever airport like Meigs Field is to separate general aviation traffic from scheduled commercial service that has no choice of destination.

Aircraft lands on wrong runway at Midway;
Meigs could have prevented incident

On November 14, a light aircraft--the type that Meigs Field was designed to serve--landed on the incorrect runway at Midway airport, touching down just in front of a Boeing 737 cleared to enter the same runway.

"A Mooney was cleared to land on [Runway 22-Right] but landed on [22-Left] instead," according to the Federal Aviation Administration. "A 737 was scheduled to take off on [22-Left], but saw the Mooney and stopped before entering the runway, allowing the Mooney to land."

The incident served as a chilling reminder of what the National Air Traffic Controllers Association has called an "unacceptably low safety level" since the closing of Meigs Field in March.  It is not surprising that an unfamiliar pilot would mistake one runway for another at Midway, where complex parallel runways are only a few hundred feet apart. 

What can be said is that no pilot ever cleared for a landing at Meigs Field ever landed at Midway instead by accident.

Read the entire story at: 

Upcoming event:

Chicago "DODO" Chapter of Tuskegee Airmen, Inc.
Come fly Young Eagles with the Tuskegee Airmen

Special Tuskegee Airmen Young Eagles rally Sat. 12/13

The Chicago "DODO" Chapter of Tuskegee Airmen is Celebrating! 

The 1,000,000th Young Eagle Flight!

You're invited to join the Chicago "DODO" Chapter, Tuskegee Airmen Inc. on Saturday, December 13, 2003 for our monthly Young Eagles Rally at the Gary-Chicago International Airport (GYY) terminal building.  The pilot briefing will be at 8:30 AM with Young Eagle flights beginning at 9:00 AM and continuing until each child has flown.  Refreshments will be provided for pilots and volunteers.  You can check flight status on the day of the rally after 7:30 AM by calling the Young Eagles Hotline.  In Illinois:  (312) 409-5621   In Indiana:  toll free  (888) 235-9824    Press 3 for the flight status mailbox.

Over 400 children are scheduled, so volunteer pilots are encouraged to take part.  Pilots must meet the requirements of the EAA Young Eagles Program. (Details at

We will be celebrating several milestones.

  1. The 1,000,000 Young Eagle flown
  2. The 1,000 Young Eagle flown by Robert "Butch" Bejna
    (All 1,000 done one at a time in Butch's Cessna 150.  Quite a feat!)
  3. The 100th Anniversary of the Wright Brothers First Flight
  4. The Tuskegee Airmen 2003 MVP (Most Valuable Pilot)
  5. The Birthday of the Tuskegee Airmen Most Dedicated Volunteer, Victor Croswell
  6. The Joyous Holiday Season!

It is our sincere hope that you can join us for this festive celebration.  For planning purposes, if you plan to participate, please send an e-mail to

Here's hoping you had a wonderful Thanksgiving and we're looking forward to seeing you!

Ken Rapier, Chief Pilot
Tuskegee Airmen Young Eagles Program

Upcoming event:

Palwaukee Airport Pilots Association
Come to PAPA's Wright Day Banquet
Dec. 17
Celebrate the dream!

12/17/03:  Wright dinner celebration
Celebrate the centennial with Chicago aviators

Join the FRIENDS OF MEIGS FIELD as we support


A No-kidding Once-in-a-lifetime Aviation Event!
The Wright Brothers 100th Anniversary Banquet Celebration

Wednesday, December 17th - A never-to-be-forgotten aviation evening!

Door prizes!

bulletOvernight stay at the Renaissance North Shore Hotel with breakfast.
bulletTickets to the Northwestern vs. Penn State basketball game on Sat Feb 14th, and much more!


bulletRenaissance Chicago North Shore Hotel
bullet933 Skokie Blvd., Northbrook, IL 60062
bullet6:30 PM cocktails (cash bar) 7:00 PM dinner $40.00 per person
bulletPay with credit card online at, click the link to Windy City Flyers, or call your charge in to Skip at 847-808-1188. 
Deadline for credit card orders: December 15th
bulletPay with checks to the Palwaukee Airport Pilots Association, 1005 South Wolf Rd., Wheeling, IL 60090.
Deadline for checks:  Send no later than December 13th.

For more information visit

Don't wait, time is short!

Sign up now - join in the celebration - prizes, music, dancing, fun!

10/29/03: FAA head: Meigs closure "a terrific problem"; Controllers: miscues soaring

FAA logo illustration

Photo of Marion C. BlakeyYesterday local newspapers reported that FAA Administrator Marion Blakey has termed the closure of Meigs Field "a terrific problem from all of our standpoint."  The comments came in the context of a telephone news conference with transportation reporters across Illinois.

At the same time, according to the Chicago Tribune, Ray Gibbons, president of the controllers union at the Elgin FAA center said, "The closure of Meigs and the new mix of small and large aircraft we are seeing is bogging down Midway and making our job incredibly more complex in the airspace around Midway, Meigs and O'Hare."

Reported controller errors have risen this year in the wake of Meigs' closure from 4 in all of 2002 to 20 already this year.

Click here to read coverage by the Chicago Tribune and the Chicago Sun-Times

10/17/03: State of Wisconsin protests Meigs closure

Today it was revealed that the State of Wisconsin has protested to the Federal Aviation Administration the closure of Meigs Field,  particularly the Class D airspace surrounding it and the air traffic control tower providing guidance to Wisconsin pilot transiting the area.

Click here to read coverage by the Chicago Sun-Times, Avweb, and Crain's Chicago Business.

10/2/03: Friends of Meigs Field unveil vision for Meigs, Northerly Island

Parks and Planes proposal
Parks and Planes:
The Friends of Meigs Field have introduced an exciting and innovative proposal for Meigs Field.

Today the Friends of Meigs Field introduced an exciting new proposal for the future of Meigs Field. 

Entitled "Parks and Planes:  A Vision for Meigs Field and Northerly Island" the plan builds on a proposal introduced earlier in the year by the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association to use FAA funds to benefit Chicago parks. 

The plan proposes a new Bessie Coleman Skypark and Chicago Air Museum at a reopened Meigs Field, adding new parkland, features, and public attractions, while restoring the benefits of a downtown airport to Chicago.

Some of the features include:

bulletA combination of new lakefront parkland and an operating airport.
bulletWhat is believed to be more new open space than any new park that has been added to the lakefront in over 50 years.
bulletExciting elements like a meadow, a lookout point, nature walks, harborside promenade, picnic areas, fishing stations, an artificial scuba reef.
bulletA new Chicago Air Museum dedicated to the education of Chicago children.
bulletExciting activities and events unavailable at any other park in Chicago.
bulletPreservation and improvement of all of the benefits of an operating airport.
bulletGeneration of millions of dollars in new revenues for the Chicago Park District to use in improving parks across the city.

The Friends of Meigs Field are calling for public hearings on the future of Northerly Island and Meigs Field, including full and fair consideration of this proposal. 

Click here to learn more about the plan and how you can help.

9/9/03: National Air Tour Flies Over Meigs in Solidarity

Friends of Meigs 'Welcome Committee'
A sad sight...the ramp where over 6,000 Young Eagles have earned their wings.

A moment from history.

Glad you could visit Chicago!  Maybe next time you can land...Welcome Tri-Motors!Flight of 4 Ford Tri-Motors returns for another photo pass.
Originally had planned luncheon stop at historical Meigs Field

The National Air Tour ( visited "The Coolest Little Airport on the Planet" Tuesday, coming as close as it could to landing, but ultimately having to bypass Chicago.

Stopping overnight in Lansing, IL on Monday, the tour was originally scheduled to stop in Chicago at Meigs Field on Tuesday, September 9.  Instead, with the runway in a shambles, the tour flew over the famous-but-damaged airfield in a show of support.  The tour, includes over two dozen historic aircraft, the likes of which have not been seen together in Chicago since the dedication of Meigs Field in 1950.  (The airport opened in 1948.)

Pilots of 25 museum-quality historic aircraft from the 1920's and 30's will stop in 26 cities, recreating as closely as possible the route of the 1932 air tour that was never completed due to the Depression.


8/5/03: Friends of Meigs Deplore Continuation of Airport Demolition

City "Running Scared"?

Park District has failed to even acknowledge formal request for delay;
Alternate proposal only weeks from completion

Chicago, IL - Today the Friends of Meigs Field issued a statement deploring the apparent continuation of demolition at Meigs Field, Chicago's lakefront airport.

"The city seems to be running scared," said Rachel Goodstein, president of the Friends of Meigs Field. "What other explanation is there for not getting public input or considering alternatives that the public and taxpayers almost certainly would prefer?"

According to news reports, the City of Chicago and the Chicago Park District are poised to resume demolition of Meigs Field today. The Friends of Meigs Field and a coalition of aviation organizations have made a formal request to the Chicago Park District for a moratorium on demolition long enough to finalize and present an alternate plan for Meigs that would create a combination park/airport, and provide millions in revenue to the cash-strapped Park District for parks elsewhere. 

The Park District has not even acknowledged receiving the request, much less seriously considered it.

8/4/03: EAA AirVenture Wraps Up; Huge Response for Meigs

Crowds gathered at the Friends of Meigs tent to sign petitions to reopen the famous airport.  (Photo: Steve White, EAA AirVenture today)

The outpouring of support for "the Coolest Little Airport on the Planet" was heartwarming. 

Despite a late entry that kept us out of the official program, EAA AirVenture attendees ("AirVenturers?") made special efforts to seek out the Friends of Meigs tent, located near the Century of Flight pavilion on AeroShell Square.  The tent was donated by EAA.

Thousands signed petition postcards asking Congress to take action to reopen Meigs Field.  The final total has not been tallied, but seems certain to exceed the event goal of 5,000.  The postcards will be sorted by district, and presented to members of Congress, asking them to include language reopening Meigs Field in upcoming legislation.

Many visitors expressed their shock and outrage, not only over the closure, but also over Mayor Daley's recent callous remarks about a pilot who set down at the closed Meigs with an electrical problem.  Daley had seemed to imply that he felt the incident was a hoax to embarrass him, showing his lack of understanding of general aviation by claiming the pilot was hundreds of miles from the proper course.

"What is he talking about?" asked one tent visitor.  "Everybody from out east who doesn't want to fly over Lake Michigan flies right along Chicago's shoreline."

7/31/03: Daley shows his ignorance, indifference to air safety

VFR lakefront flyway.jpg (42568 bytes)
Click for image of VFR Lakefront Flyway, showing heavily trafficked corridor along Chicago lakefront between Wisconsin and points East.

Yesterday, Chicago Mayor Richard Daley displayed amazing ignorance and indifference to the safety of a pilot who made an emergency landing at the closed Meigs Field on Sunday.

According to news reports, Daley was quoted in a news conference yesterday as saying "This is the city of Chicago. It's in the state of Illinois. Oshkosh is up there. It's north of here a couple hours. If he's going to Oshkosh, that man is going in the wrong direction."   According to the Chicago Sun-Times, his insinuation was that the incident might have been intentional to embarrass the mayor for his recent closure of Meigs.

The Mayor's comments reflect both a callous indifference to the safety of air traffic in the region and a woeful ignorance of the airspace around Chicago and its traffic.

According to another news report, the pilot did not even know of Meigs' closure in advance, and only discovered it when approaching the torn-up runway.  The airport is still shown as open on FAA charts, due to the City's illegal closure without proper notice to the FAA.

Because pilots usually do not fly single-engine aircraft over Lake Michigan, in case of mechanical difficulty, a great deal of traffic between the EAA convention and points east passes along the busy VFR lakefront flyway over Chicago's lake shore.  The excerpt from the Chicago Terminal Area Chart, at left, proves the point.  The dark blue band along the lakeshore is a "VFR flyway,"  where a heavy concentration of flights pass through, avoiding O'Hare and Midway airports' airspace, and staying close to shore.

The wisdom of this practice was only proven by the experience of the pilot landing at Meigs on Sunday.  Suffering from an alternator failure and a loss of radio communications, and faced with increasing rain and falling visibilities, the pilot did the safe thing:  Landed at Meigs.

The Friends of Meigs Field responded with a press release today, calling the Mayor's comments "irresponsible" and "out of line."  The press release details how the pilot was exactly where he should have been if he had really been en route from Michigan (originally from Maine) to Oshkosh, WI.

7/30/03: Microsoft Flight Sim: Meigs Still "Home"

Meigs Field is still undamaged and "home" airport in Microsoft's new "Flight Simulator 2004 --Century of Flight"

According to Microsoft product engineers, the newest and latest version of the world's most popular flight simulation software will still call Meigs Field home--at least for now.

"Microsoft Flight Simulator 2004 -- Century of Flight" is being introduced this week at the EAA's AirVenture in Oshkosh, WI, and the new version has "dual default" airports:  SEATAC in Seattle, WA, and (drum roll) good ol' Meigs Field.

Meigs has been the default or "home" airport for Flight Sim since its inception, before even Microsoft was involved.  The original program was written by a couple of software engineers at the University of Illinois, in Champaign, IL.  They wanted to model an airport environment that had lots of interesting scenery, and that they were familiar with.  They chose Meigs, a popular weekend destination for pilots from the Champaign area.

The original version used nothing more than sticks for buildings, but Meigs' famous profile was recognizable.  In the beginning the only place you could "fly your desktop" was Meigs.  Today's version is far more detailed, modeling airports around the world, and showing individual buildings, streets, and landmarks.

If you are visiting AirVenture, stop by the Microsoft exhibit.  Microsoft is a sponsor of this year's Century of Flight AirVenture Convention.

7/29/03: Emergency Landing Pilot Makes it to Oshkosh -- No Advance Clue of Meigs' Closure

This Piper Cruiser made an emergency landing at Meigs
Richard Randall and Dick Green arrive at Oshkosh after their exciting "visit" to Chicago.
(Photo: Steve White,
AirVenture Today)

Airport still shown on charts, due to illegal closure

According to a report today in AirVenture Today online (the daily news from the EAA's AirVenture convention in Oshkosh, WI) the pilot involved in Sunday's emergency landing--Richard Randall--and his passenger Dick Green, safely arrived in Oshkosh on Tuesday.

They reported that they had not been aware that Meigs had been closed until they made a low pass over the runway during their emergency approach, and discovered the damage done on March 31. The airport is still shown to be open on charts: a result of the City's illegal secret closing of the airport without giving proper notice to the FAA.

Unable to communicate via radio after his alternator failure, Randall encountered increasing rain the farther north he flew along Chicago's lakeshore.  He made the prudent choice, and reversed course to Meigs, shown on his charts.  When he discovered the torn-up runway, he made another circuit, and landed on the grass adjacent to runway. According to AirVenture Today, Randall said, "We land on grass all the time. We made an uneventful landing, and you should have seen all the people coming."

The men reported that the Chicago police who greeted them at the airport were "helpful," but Park District officials-including a lawyer who threatened to charge them with trespassing-were "arrogant." After repairing a loose connection, the pair ferried the aircraft to DuPage under a ferry permit from the FAA, after which they resumed their journey to Oshkosh, arriving Tuesday.

7/29 to 8/4/03, Friends of Meigs at EAA AirVenture

Click for map to
Friends of Meigs tent
near AeroShell Square
at EAA AirVenture 2003

Visit Friends of Meigs' tent at EAA AirVenture 2003 near AeroShell SquarePostcard Drive to Congress:  "Re-open Meigs Field"
Cell-phone calls to Chicago City Council

EAA provides tent on AeroShell Square

Oshkosh, WI - The Friends of Meigs Field will be hosting a tent at this year's Experimental Aircraft Association AirVenture convention in Oshkosh, WI.  The group will be collecting signatures on postcards to send to Congress and other public officials in the ongoing effort to reopen Meigs Field.

The tent, provided gratis by the Experimental Aircraft Association, will be "operations central" for the group, with volunteers gathering signatures and encouraging Chicago residents to call their aldermen and request hearings on Meigs' closure and alternative plans to create a combination park and airport from the famous airstrip.

If you are coming to Oshkosh, please be sure to stop by and sign a card.  Take a few back to your local airport, too.

If you have a few hours to volunteer in the tent, so much the better.  Let us know by contacting us.

7/27/03, Meigs Saves Two More Lives

Meigs Saves 2 More Lives During Emergency Landing
Meigs Field saves two more lives as a pilot from Maine makes an emergency landing on the grass adjacent to the damaged runway after an electrical failure.

Oshkosh-bound aircraft with electrical failure makes emergency landing at Meigs

Chicago, IL - This afternoon, a 1940's Piper PA-12 Super Cruiser executed an emergency landing at Meigs Field, after experiencing an electrical and radio failure, and the pilot feared having been hit by lightning.  The incident started a couple of miles north of the closed airport.  According to reports, the pilot landed on the grass adjacent to the damaged runway.

The pilot was reported to have been enroute to Oshkosh, WI, possibly to attend the upcoming EAA AirVenture convention, that opens on Tuesday.  No injuries were reported.

This is at least the fourth emergency landing at Meigs in recent years of which the Friends of Meigs Field are aware, including a helicopter emergency landing less than two weeks ago (see below.)

Click here to read the Chicago Tribune's account: Meigs again proves a lifesaver
Click here to read the Chicago Sun-Times st
ory:  Plane in trouble lands safely at Meigs

Piper PA-12 Super Cruiser performance (from

Horsepower: 100.0000 Gross Weight: 1750 lbs
Top Speed: 100 kts Empty Weight: 990 lbs
Cruise Speed: 91 kts Fuel Capacity: 30.00 gal
Stall Speed (dirty): 43 kts Range: 360 nm
Takeoff Landing
Ground Roll: 410 ft Ground Roll 360 ft
Over 50 ft obstacle: 720 ft Over 50 ft obstacle: 470 ft
Rate Of Climb: 575 fpm
Ceiling: 12300 ft
7/16/03, follow-up:
Park District Continues "Done-Deal 'Democracy'" (tm)
Denies Request for Delay
Demolition to Begin Within 30 days

Chicago, IL - Despite the opportunity to bring between $40 million and $630 million in new revenue to the Chicago Park District by reinventing Meigs Field as a park with an airport, Chicago Park District commissioners today voted to proceed with the demolition of Meigs Field on a fast track.

The Board refused to defer the decision even a few weeks to allow the Friends of Meigs Field to present a plan under development that would reopen the airport as a combined park and airport for all the people of Chicago, and provide $40 to $630 million in additional federal funds that could be used to improve parks across the city.  There was not even any discussion between board members prior to the vote on the issue.

According to Park Board President Maria Saldaña, "the decision to close the airport has already been made."  In other words, the City and the Park District decided to go back on their word to preserve Meigs for up to 24 years with absolutely no public input.

The Chicago Park District board is completely appointed by the Mayor of Chicago, the only park board in Illinois that is not elected by the voters. 

(Any connection there to the way they ignore the public's opinion?  Don't forget, a recent Chicago Tribune poll showed that 65% of those polled were against the Mayor's closure of Meigs.)  The vote was unanimous, with 2 commissioners (Pickens and Burroughs) absent.

The result is that on Wednesday, a $1.5 million contract was approved, giving Pacific Construction Services approval to remove the runway, some electrical infrastructure, and add topsoil to replace the runway.  The funds will come from the City of Chicago Department of Aviation, a questionable practice, since the FAA prohibits redirection of many airport funds outside the airport system.

In contrast to previous reports that indicated the destruction would begin in "early fall," the Park District said Wednesday that demolition will begin "within 30 days." 

(We give 'em 'til midnight, max.)

More details:
Chicago Tribune:,1,4231923.story?coll=chi-newslocal-hed

The Friends of Meigs Field continue with development of a win-win framework plan for reopening Meigs Field as a combination park/airport while bringing revenue to the cash-strapped Park District for other parks.  The organization also continues to explore possible solutions at the federal level.

Friends of Meigs to Protest Rapid-Fire Demolition Proceedings

Chicago, IL - Today, the Friends of Meigs Field will lodge a protest with the Chicago Park District over the haste in which a demolition contract is being issued for the removal of the Meigs Field runway. 

In the past few days, the Chicago Tribune and Chicago Sun-Times have reported that the Chicago Park District has already chosen a contractor to demolish the Meigs Field runway.  Friends of Meigs Field will be on hand to protest the ratification of this contract today at the Chicago Park District committee and board meetings.

The contract would seem to violate FAA requirements that bar use of aviation funds for non-aviation purposes.  The Park District plans to hire the contractor but pay for it using City of Chicago Department of Aviation funds.

The Friends of Meigs will request a moratorium on demolition proceedings until public hearings can be held on the question of Meigs' fate.  The Friends of Meigs expect to introduce in the coming weeks a win-win plan that would provide between $40 million and $600 million in new revenue to the cash-strapped Chicago Park District, while reopening Meigs as a reinvented combination park and airport for all the people of Chicago to enjoy.

Volunteers needed to help Friends of Meigs at Oshkosh

The Friends of Meigs Field will be hosting a tent at the upcoming Experimental Aircraft Association's AirVenture convention in Oshkosh, WI, July 29-Aug. 4.  The tent is being donated at show center near Aeroshell Square, courtesy of the EAA.

Friends of Meigs Field are seeking volunteers to help staff the tent, where we will be generating grassroots contacts to local, state, and federal decision makers, asking them to reopen Meigs Field.

If you can spare a half day at the world's busiest air show, please contact us.

Bonus: We have a LIMITED(!!!)  number of (air-conditioned!) hotel beds available for volunteers staying overnight.  Let us know, and we'll see if we can help put you up.

Helicopter makes dramatic emergency landing at closed Meigs
Meigs protects yet another life -- That makes at least 3 since closing in March

According to stories in the Chicago Sun-Times and Chicago Tribune, Meigs Field continues to protect lives, even in its current damaged state.

On Saturday, a helicopter reportedly registered to the U.S. Border Patrol made an emergency landing at the presently-closed Meigs Field, after a suspected bird strike.

The incident is at least the second since March 31 when the City tore X's into the Meigs runway, in which the shuttered airport has protected lives.  On April 2, a Meigs controller, still on duty, helped prevent a mid-air collision over the south lakefront, protecting at least the lives of the two pilots involved and any passengers aboard.  The incident was captured on tape.  (Read the transcript.)

Both incidents highlight the role Meigs Field plays in air safety in the Chicago region, a role that would be lost should Meigs be closed permanently.


Supreme Court challenge dropped

The Friends of Meigs Field have decided not to proceed with an appeal to the Illinois State Supreme Court of their case to reopen Meigs Field.

Many people responded to our call for pledges toward the effort, but the total raised in the short amount of time available fell short of the significant sum required (over $100,000) to cover expected legal expenses in the event of a positive ruling by the Court.

Those who pledged toward the effort will be given the option of withdrawing their pledge or applying it to the development of the plan for reopening Meigs as a combination park-airport.

Thank you to all of the generous supporters who answered the call.

7/9/03:  Alderman Calls for City Council Hearings on Meigs

Alderman Joe Moore (49th Ward) today introduced a resolution calling for hearings on reopening Meigs Field.

Chicago Alderman Joe Moore introduces resolution calling for hearings;
Cites safety decline since closure

Chicago, IL - At today's Chicago City Council meeting, Council member Joe Moore (D, 49th Ward) introduced a resolution calling for public hearings into the adverse effects of closing Meigs Field and consideration of reopening the airport.

Alderman Moore, a noted supporter of Chicago parks, cited numerous reports of safety problems since the closure of Meigs, and said events since the closure "sound like a disaster waiting to happen." Ald. Moore mentioned the near mid-air collision that was prevented by the Meigs control tower days after the runway closure (a control tower that has since also been closed,) increased runway incursions at O'Hare airport, and controller reports of overwork at Midway airport.

According to Moore, he is "calling on the City Council to fully consider this midnight decision and shine the full light of day on it before lives are lost."

Click here to read the full press release...

7/9/03:  Meigs Supporter Launches DEMOLITIONDICK.COM, offers Demo Dick Dolls

Demolition Dick Dolls are available at
Demolition Dick dolls are for sale at

A portion of every sale is donated to Friends of Meigs Field.

(Note: is not affiliated with the Friends of Meigs Field)

Creative genius takes on Mayor Daley

Chicago, IL - Bill O'Neill would probably balk at being called a creative genius, but as the brains behind, a charter aircraft service in suburban Chicago, Bill has plenty of opportunity to exercise his mind.

Like a lot of people in aviation, he was outraged by Mayor Daley's rash midnight demolition of Meigs Field, but unlike most, he decided to do something about it.  So, he launched

a website devoted to poking fun and political barbs at the City Hall powers that be.  One of his first ventures with the new site:  Demolition Dick Dolls.  According to O'Neill, the mini-mightyman is suitable for many purposes, including (but not limited to) squashing, throwing, or dropping out the window of your car or aircraft.  According to O'Neill: "He even walks on water (well, actually just kind of floats.)"

O'Neill's jabs are not limited to Meigs.  He has pithy observations on Daley's actions on O'Hare, casinos, the state legislature, quick take powers, you name it.

You can order your Demolition Dick Doll online at Bill's website:   

And for every order, Bill has promised a donation to the Friends of Meigs Field.

Item 2: Chicago Tribune Poll:
  Public Widely Disapproves of Meigs Closure
  Disbelieves Mayor's Fear-Mongering

A new scientific poll published today in the Chicago Tribune indicates that Chicago's citizens widely support the airport, don't believe the Mayor's claims of a terrorist threat, and disagree with Daley's actions in closing Meigs in late March. The support cuts across all lines, race, gender, city vs. suburbs, Democrat vs. Republican.

Poll summary:
Mayor Daley ordered the destruction of Meigs Field runways. He said this was to safeguard downtown Chicago from possible terrorist attack. Did you approve or disapprove of his action?


No opinion:

Do you believe that the chance of terrorist attack in downtown Chicago was greater because of Meigs Field, or was it not greater?

Not greater:

No opinion:

Click here to read the whole story...

6/11/03: Item 1: Formal request today to delay Meigs demolition

Groups protest lack of public input, waste of $115 million in demolishing Meigs

Chicago, IL - The Friends of Meigs Field, on behalf of a coalition of emergency medical and aviation professionals, will present a formal request today to the Chicago Park District asking for a halt to Meigs Field demolition plans until an alternate proposal can be heard. The request also calculates that the true cost of closing Meigs for a park is over $115 million to the taxpayers.

There has been absolutely no public input into the midnight decision to close and bulldoze Chicago's only reliever airport, Meigs Field. The most recent public hearings on the issue were held in August, 2001, at which numerous witnesses testified on behalf of preserving Meigs and not a single witness testified it should be closed.

The national aviation community is calling on the Chicago Park District to adhere to its charter as a public body and offer an opportunity for public input into the decision to close Meigs Field and convert it to a park. The Friends of Meigs Field are preparing an alternate framework proposal, one that will provide all of the same kinds of park benefits, while preserving the airport and providing millions of dollars in revenue to the Park District. Today, we formally seek a temporary halt to activities to demolish Meigs, for a few weeks, long enough to finalize the proposal, and give the public ample opportunity for input before any further damage is done to the airport.

Item 2: Indiana Jones Defends Meigs Field

Indiana Jones, aka Harrison Ford defended Meigs Field last week.

Last week, Indiana Jones, aka Harrison Ford, defended Meigs Field in the Chicago press.

In town to promote his new movie, "Hollywood Homicide," Ford set out in an unexpected direction.  During an interview with Bill Zwecker of the Chicago Sun-Times, Ford said "I was furious. I don't think I've been as angry about anything in a long time."

"I'm all for parks. Parks are great, but so are airports, especially one created to allow for the most spectacular arrival to an architectural masterpiece, which is Chicago.

"It infuriates me--especially the way it was done."

Ford is a well-known pilot who grew up in the Chicago area.  He flies both helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft, and has become well-known for his aerial rescues of hikers in Wyoming.  According to Zwecker, Ford flies rescue missions as a deputy sheriff in his home county.

Item 3: Replacement for Meigs? 
Ping Pong & Fish
Park District PR machine in full swing

Well, this certainly was worth risking lives and snarling the region's air traffic:

Ping Pong.

Yep, that's right.  According to an "exclusive" story by Fran Spielman of the Sun-Times on Sunday, the plan for Meigs Field is Ping Pong and fishing, at least this year.  Ms. Spielman did not bother to obtain contrary viewpoints for her story.

If today's formal request for a delay in plans to replace Meigs is not granted, the story reports that Meigs will be open as a park soon as next week, even before further demolition of the runway can begin.  The "features" of this new park, as reported by the Sun-Times:

bulletPing-Pong tables in the terminal building (Left over from the ill-fated Ping Pong promotion the year after Cows on Parade?)
bulletPublic bathrooms  (Wow!  The number two feature is public bathrooms that have served the public since 1961!)
bulletClimbing walls
bulletWildflowers, prairie grass and trees
bulletSkateboard surfaces
bulletObservation deck (This last is presumably the Meigs observation deck that has existed and been open to the public for 40 years, up until the City restricted access 2 years ago.)

Of course, all of these features could be added to an existing and operating Meigs Field.

Item 4: Prez to avoid Meigs, tie up traffic
Shuts down GA within 10 mile radius of downtown Chicago
Hampers flights within 30 miles, at 16 airports

President Bush arrives at Meigs Field in Feb. 2002
(Note: the helicopters are parked on the ramp, not the helipads)

Today, President Bush will visit Chicago, not at his usual venue--Meigs Field--but landing instead at Grant Park, tying up traffic both on the streets and in the air.

According to a Sun-Times story, the President's entourage will land on Air Force One at O'Hare, and then chopper to downtown in Marine One, landing somewhere in Grant Park.  Meigs Field, of course, is available for the flight, and would not require snarling ground traffic, but according to a spokesperson for the Chicago Park District only two helipads are "functional" right now.  She apparently does not realize that during past visits, the President's cortege used the taxiway and parking ramp, both still in fine condition, thanks to legal action by the Friends of Meigs Field.

Also problematic will be a Temporary Flight Restriction over downtown Chicago, centered on Grant Park, that will completely shut down general aviation at Midway Airport for 3-1/2 hours, and severely restrict flights at 15 other area airports for the same period.  These "pop-up Presidential TFR's" have become a real problem for general aviation, creating all kinds of headaches. 

AOPA item: President Bush gets 30-nm TFR for Chicago visit Wednesday

6/1/03: Legislature Passes O'Hare Bill without Meigs, Peotone

Yesterday, the Illinois House passed H.B.721, the O'Hare Expansion Act, without taking up measures to reconstitute the regional plan for airport capacity agreed to by Gov. Ryan and Mayor Daley in December, 2001.

"We are disappointed the Legislature did not consider adding Meigs and Peotone, the missing elements of the plan," said Rachel Goodstein, president of the Friends of Meigs Field.  "Today's vote was their opportunity to make things right...they failed in that mission."

The issue was hotly debated in the House for over two hours, and Meigs Field figured prominently in the debate, drawing much praise, and no criticism.  Yet, when the votes were counted, the measure passed by 84-31 margin.  According to the Daily Southtown,

"In the end, the only lawmakers to oppose the expansion were a handful of south suburban and northwest suburban lawmakers -- Democrats and Republicans from the wealthiest and poorest areas of the state -- sharing a common interest.

"The bill split black lawmakers who originally said they would oppose O'Hare expansion unless certain conditions were met, including language for Peotone. The bill also split lawmakers who represent the south suburbs with some voting it down and others giving it the green light."

Rep. David Miller, (D, Dolton) carried the banner for both Peotone and Meigs Field, passionately urging lawmakers to "stick to the agreement" made between Daley and Ryan.  Numerous other lawmakers supported Meigs verbally, although some still voted in favor of the O'Hare measure despite the lack of language to reopen Meigs.

Other representatives speaking in favor of Meigs included:

bulletRep. Carolyn Krause (R, Mt. Prospect)
bulletRep. James Meyer (R, Naperville,) who called Meigs "a very important component of our airport system" and "an economic engine...every bit as important to the economic vitality of this city."
bulletRep. Sidney Mathias (R, Arlington Heights) who said "What happened there [at Meigs] was wrong."
bulletRep. Will Davis (D, Harvey)
bulletRep. Charles Morrow (D, Chicago) who mentioned the Tuskegee Airmen and the Meigs Young Eagles program.
bulletRep. David Leitch (R, Peoria, who had introduced a pro-Meigs amendment to the predecessor bill, S.B. 802), who called Meigs a "wonderful facility" not only for its access to the city for general aviation, but "more importantly for civil defense, and disaster relief."  Noting that Meigs can handle fully loaded military C-130's, he said it is "very shortsighted to allow this to pass without ensuring that Meigs is kept open."
bulletRep. Terry Parke (R, Schaumburg) who spoke long and passionately in defense of Meigs Field.

Rep. Barbara Flynn Currie (D, Chicago), the measure's sponsor, drew incredulous stares from Meigs supporters when she claimed "There is nothing here about Meigs or Peotone, but that doesn't define their fate."  On Friday, of course, a state appellate court withdrew a stay against further City demolition of the airport.  Meigs supporters were hoping that the Legislature would act to reopen the airport.

Earlier, late Friday night (actually about 1:30 Saturday morning) the Illinois Senate approved the same measure 40-19.  An amendment, offered by Senator James Meeks, to reopen Meigs Field and build the Peotone airport was referred to the Rules committee where the Democratic leadership refused to consider it.

The Friends of Meigs Field thank all of our members and supporters who contacted the Illinois Legislature in support of Meigs Field.  As late as an hour before the House met on Saturday morning, staff in the House Republican Leadership offices reported receiving a steady stream of calls in support of the airport.  The strong outpouring of support was the only reason we were able to get Meigs into consideration on the O'Hare legislation in the first place.  You really did make a difference.

We also extend our thanks to all lawmakers who spoke or voted in favor of Meigs Field on this matter.  It was a long shot to take, and we came farther than anyone would have predicted even a few short weeks ago.  Your support and leadership is greatly appreciated, even in defeat.

Here are the votes by individual lawmaker in each chamber:



horizontal rule

Pilot's letter to his great-grandkids

An open letter from a 76-year-old professional pilot to his great-grandchildren
(appearing in today's Daily Southtown):

Dear Matthew, Kira and Alyssa,

At 6, 2 and 1, you are barely old enough to read, but I may not be here when you can, and I felt you need this lesson in democracy, which you will be able to understand later when you really need it.

It is ironic and sad that during the war with Iraq in 2003, the only destruction in this country was done by Chicago's Mayor Richard M. Daley, after dark, when he destroyed an airport without giving the people the benefit of due process.

Had there really been a terrorist or Iraqi strike here, Meigs Field could have been used for ambulance, police and fire services and medical evacuation and supply. A while back, the mayor asked the military to move out of O'Hare airport to Rockford 80 miles away. He also neglected to do anything about the U.S. Coast Guard move to Ludington, Mich., across the lake when at least their chopper could have been based at Meigs.

As Iraqi supporters of Saddam Hussein carried posters, "Democracy is Hypocrisy," the mayor helped prove their point. Anywhere else, what he did would be called an act of sabotage and people would have been jailed. But it seems the country of Illinois, with a puppet as its governor, is becoming a dictatorship with Chicago as its capital. Baghdad West?

Land grabs for O'Hare, the North-South Corridor, telephone monopolies, and casino talks have all suddenly become signs of increasing totalitarianism.

The night of March 30, the mayor decided to celebrate the 100th anniversary of aviation by destroying an airport. He wants to build yet another park, supposedly for the people, whether they want it or not. They already have 552 parks, most of them in bad shape.

The next night, I dreamed that Orville Wright, Wilbur Wright, Lindy (Charles Lindbergh), Butch O'Hare and a couple of other guys were sitting on the old hangar bench, their elbows on their knees and faces in their hands. Just like that drawing of Abraham Lincoln when John F. Kennedy was shot. Old Mayor Daley senior was standing there with his hat in his hand, shrugging his shoulders in apology. It is important to remember they weren't sad because an airport closed. It was because what happened was un-American.

The next morning it was April Fool's Day, but this was no joke. The mayor violated federal air regulations and the trust of this country's aviation community.

Democracy means self-government. You vote for a candidate you believe will do a good job for you. Beware, some have their own agenda. In this case, the mayor got 78 percent of a very small vote. Nothing to be proud of.

So when election time comes, vote, even if you know your candidate might lose. Otherwise the winner gets a big head. History shows that's how dictators are born.

Len Kmiecek
Oak Lawn

5/31/2003:  VERY Bad Day at Black Rock...Good Guys Down to Few Bullets
Message to public:  Government in secret is fine?

Item 1: General aviation had a very bad day for Meigs Field yesterday.

In mid-afternoon, the IL appellate court lifted our stay (scheduled to expire 6/4 anyway,) eliminating the Temporary Restraining Order against further demolition of Meigs. We'll have to evaluate our situation once the legislature adjourns. The good news is that the court fight got us one thing we hoped...a clean shot at the Illinois Legislature.

Unfortunately, we fell just short on round 1 in the legislature last night. 

One more shot today in a few hours.  Read on...

Item 2:  URGENT: Call IL House TODAY--Sat. May 31--"Vote NO on H.B. 721"

Tomorrow will be too late.

This may be Meigs Field's last chance in the Illinois State Legislature, given yesterday's lifting of the stay against future demolition by the City of Chicago.

Last night, the IL Legislature pulled a "fast one," switching H.B. 721 for S.B. 802, adopting language expanding O'Hare airport, but leaving out Meigs and Peotone.

The measure will come before the IL House THIS MORNING, Saturday, May 31.

Please take a few minutes today to call the IL House of Representatives to ask them to please

"Vote NO or PRESENT to H.B. 721"

Make 3 calls:

bulletIllinois Residents:  Call your Representative.  Find them online at
bulletEveryone:  Call the Leaders of the House: 
House Speaker Michael Madigan, 217/782-5350  Fax: 217/524-1794
House Majority Leader Tom Cross, 217/782-1331  Fax: 217/782-6812


Item 3: Court stay lifted--City free to continue Meigs demolition

From the Chicago Tribune:

Lifting the only legal barrier to Mayor Richard Daley's plan to convert Meigs Field into a park, the Illinois Appellate Court ruled Friday that Chicago has the right to remove the remains of a runway and other structures at the now-closed lakeside airport.

The decision came a week after a Cook County judge dismissed a lawsuit challenging the shutdown of the airport on the basis of a violation of the state's open-meetings law, failure to provide proper notice of a runway closure and improper use of public land.

Despite the legal victory, city officials said further demolition would not be performed soon because the work would be awarded by bid, a process that will take weeks, if not months.

Item 4: IL Senate passes O'Hare expansion without Meigs -- VERY close (closer than the final total)

Unfortunately, we fell just short on round 1 last night (actually early this morning)...

In the early evening, the City pulled a switcheroo, substituting a shell House bill in the Senate (H.B.721) for S.B. 802, and attached the O'Hare language to it. We managed to get Sen. Meeks to introduce the "Miller Amendment" (amendment 11 from S.B.802) to H.B. 721, but of course it was sent to Rules and not called (because they knew by then they had the votes.)

Here is the status of H.B. 721:

Reportedly, Meigs was in pretty good shape until just before the Executive Committee hearing and vote about 10:30 P.M. What was reported to us was that several key legislators were at that time bought off with side deals.  Earlier the Black Caucus traded its votes for Amendment 2 (
GA=93&SessionId=3&DocTypeId=HB&DocNum=721 ) a new special commission to oversee minority hiring, 13 members, 7 to be appointed by the Mayor, 4 by the Majority Leaders, and 2 by the Minority Leaders (11 D's to 2 R's).  We could see the handwriting when Minority Leader Watson threw his support behind the bill, and even put himself on as a co-sponsor. The Republican's remained split, but nowhere near split enough.

The Bill passed out of committee on an 8-4 (1 present) vote, and--after some pretty heated floor debate, including very strong support for Meigs from Senators Sieben, Lauzen, Wojick, Halvorson, and--my favorite--Sullivan, who drew applause from the floor as well as the gallery with "it's ironic we're dealing with another Chicago airport issue in the middle of the night"--passed the Senate 40-19.

According to conversations I had with staff after the vote, the margin does not apparently reflect how close we actually came to influencing this. Once the outcome was clear, many who would have voted NO switched and voted YES to avoid unnecessary rancor from the leadership. Interestingly, Sen. President Jones batted clean-up in the floor debate with an angry tirade against the "hypocrisy" of the measure's critics, deriding efforts to get a Peotone airport into the bill, but never once criticizing Meigs supporters or even mentioning Meigs. I think he knows in his heart what was done was wrong.

The voting record will be available soon at:

The measure will go to the House this morning (convenes at 10:00 AM, I don't know when they take up concurrence votes.)  Our only shot now is a straight "Vote NO on H.B. 721" drive in the remaining hours...the O'Hare amendment will be considered for concurrence in the House, a straight Yes or No vote.

All is not hopeless...the reason they switched to the Senate for the first round was because apparently they did not have the votes in the House. Don't know how the minority contracting piece plays in the House...that "special commission" seems to me a weak offer, but I'm not a Black Caucus member.

We'll be there working it this AM...anybody wanting to join us at the capitol would be welcome.  (The friendly faces sure would be welcome, too.)

Thanks, as always, for everyone's hard work, support and good wishes.

--Steve Whitney, Chairman, Friends of Meigs Field

5/23/2003:  Whoa, Nellie!  What a day! 

Significant win from the jaws of defeat -- Still far to go

Lead attorney Steve Novack
 of Novack & Macey,
 lawyers for Friends of Meigs Field

I don't know if Meigs' supporters' hearts can take much more of this...
Consider these events today:

bullet11:00 A.M. -- Judge William Maki dismisses all three counts in Friends of Meigs' state suit to reopen Meigs, dissolves the Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) preventing further damage to the airport by City bulldozers. 
bulletMeigs is operating without a net and in danger of imminent destruction over the holiday weekend.
bullet2:00 P.M. -- Lawyers for Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association file an emergency request for a TRO from the judge hearing their similar suit in federal court.  Judge Moran denies the request.  No relief there.
bulletJudge warns City and Park District against rash action, but refuses to prohibit demolition.
bulletCity and Park District lawyers are evasive on subject of whether demolition is planned over the weekend.
bullet4:30 P.M. -- After working feverishly for hours to prepare, lawyers for Friends of Meigs file a last-minute emergency appeal to the Illinois State Appellate Court, literally sprinting the last yards to the court building at 160 N. LaSalle seconds before it closes.
bullet4:45 P.M. -- State Appellate Judge Patrick J. Quinn issues an emergency stay, keeping the TRO in place until 4:00 P.M., Wednesday, June 4.
bulletNews arrives during sidewalk press conference; Meigs supporters celebrate...

No time (or strength) to write more...stay tuned
(and sign up for e-mail updates, at left)

Here is a sampling of today's press releases and news:

bullet8:00 A.M. -- E-mail update to Meigs subscribers
bullet8:30 A.M. -- Media Alert regarding Judge Maki's impending ruling
bullet2:30 P.M. -- AOPA web announcement of Judge Moran's denial of a TRO
bullet3:00 P.M. -- Media Alert regarding filing of emergency appeal
bullet4:45 P.M. -- Appellate Judge Quinn's order keeping the TRO in place through 4pm, June 4
bullet6:00 P.M. -- News release announcing the good news

Photograph of  Representative  David                E. Miller            (D)
Rep. David Miller,
(D, Dolton)
introduced an amendment to S.B. 802 to reconstitute the historic Ryan-Daley agreement in state law.

Other news from today's e-mail update:
bulletItem 1: YOUR efforts are having a positive effect: Calls pouring in to Springfield
bulletItem 2: Amendment to re-establish Ryan-Daley deal introduced in House
bulletItem 3: S.B. 802 moves out of committee, Apparently still not ready for vote in House
bulletItem 4: Ruling on Meigs suit dismissal expected today Come to court, if you can, to show your support!!
bulletItem 5: Park District scoffs at AOPA offer, claims $700 million land value (Which, of course, only makes the concept more valuable!!!)

Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association Announces $41 Million for Chicago Parks

Win-win proposal benefits parks AND planes

Today, the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association announced a bold new initiative to reopen Meigs Field while simultaneously providing tens of millions of dollars to the cash-strapped Chicago Park District.

AOPA president Phil Boyer, at a downtown Chicago news conference, announced the proposal, which would provide $41 million in Federal Aviation Administration funds to the Chicago Park District, provided Meigs Field was reopened and operated as an airport.  The funds would come from the FAA's Airport Improvement Program (AIP.)

"Meigs Field is a showcase and a transportation icon of Chicago," Boyer said. "The AIP funds would not only preserve this important hub to Chicago's downtown and convention business, but it also would give the Park District some much-needed revenue to maintain and improve existing parks and services. The City and Park District just don't have the money to pay for the $30 million needed to convert Meigs Field into a park, as the Mayor has proposed. This solution makes good financial sense."

The AOPA plan calls for the Park District, the current owner of the land, to sell Meigs to the City of Chicago for $41 million, which is the fair market value of the property based on a July 2001 appraisal conducted by a nationally recognized aviation expert, according to Phil Boyer, president of the AOPA. As operator and sponsor of Meigs, the City can apply for and obtain the funds necessary to purchase Meigs through the Federal Aviation Administration's Airport Improvement Program (AIP). Additionally, the influx of capital would allow the Park District to use part of Northerly Island, where Meigs is located, to create a new park and improve others.

The Friends of Meigs Field immediately praised the proposal.  "This is exactly the kind of creative, win-win thinking that should have been going on from the beginning," said group president Rachel Goodstein.  "The Chicago Park District is cutting back during these lean times.  Here is a way to have the airport and benefit parks across the city, too."

Goodstein, a non-pilot, drew on her personal experience in her comments.  "I joined this effort not because I used Meigs regularly, but because I was familiar with the condition of parks in Chicago's poorer neighborhoods.  At one park, they had no legs for their pool table.  The park staff was encouraged to solicit donations from local 'businesses,' including drug dealers, to make ends meet.  The idea that we should be wasting millions of park dollars to destroy a valuable transportation asset made me furious."

In the Park District's most recent operating budget, operating expenses except interest and debt payments have had to be cut back over $25 million dollars.  The effect has been a struggle to make ends meet while still trying to add new parkland in neighborhoods that are underserved.  (A 1996 study, the City Space Plan, shows that Meigs' neighborhood, the Near South Side, already ranks third highest in park acreage per capita, with 48 acres per thousand residents.  Over half of Chicago's 77 neighborhoods, many of them poor, have less than the minimum standard of 2 open acres per thousand residents.)

The Friends of Meigs Field pledged to work with AOPA, other aviation groups, and neighborhood Chicago organizations to bring these badly needed dollars to the city's parks.

Read more on the AOPA proposal at their website:  

Vote in IL House committee on Chicago airports today
bulletCity introduces new amendment to S.B. 802, modifies O'Hare language, nothing for Meigs or Peotone
bulletTo be voted on in Executive Committee of the House today at 9:00 A.M.
bulletMeigs supporters urged to call IL House leaders, members
bulletAsk them to vote "NO" or "PRESENT" on S.B. 802 unless and until language is added to reopen Meigs Field

05/16/2003: Good day in court; Oklahoma backs Meigs

bulletGood news! At least another week of life for Meigs!  Ruling due on 5/23
bulletJudge William Maki heard oral arguments today in the Meigs Field case (Illinois Assn. of Air and Critical Care Transport vs. Richard Daley et al) on the defendants' motion to dismiss the case.  He did not issue a ruling from the bench, indicating instead that he would take the matter under advisement and rule at 11:00 A.M. on Friday, May 26.
bulletStephen Novack (Novack & Macey), lead lawyer for the plaintiffs, did an excellent job countering arguments by lawyers for the City of Chicago, Mayor Daley and the Chicago Park District.  Read more.
bulletOklahoma Backs Reopening Meigs
bulletToday, the Oklahoma Aeronautics Commission issued a resolution, calling the Midnight Meigs Massacre an "act of domestic terrorism," calling for the reopening of Meigs Field, and supporting the efforts of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (and, we would presume, the rest of the aviation industry) to do so. 
bulletThe resolution also called for the banning of federal and state funds to be used to convert the airport into a park, and indicated that the closure of Meigs may have an impact on future federal funds for airports and transportation projects.
bulletTo the Oklahoma Aeronautics Commission from Meigs supporters everywhere:  Thank you.  We will honor your efforts the best way we can: by working to the best of our abilities to reopen Meigs ASAP.
05/14/2003: Springfield lobbying update

bulletFriends of Meigs Take Springfield by storm
bulletVisits, calls having an effect -- Contact YOUR state legislators today (see below)
bulletOut of state supporters contact Senate leaders and your U.S. rep (see below)
bulletAnecdotal reports indicate that IL legislators are hearing the call to reopen Meigs, and looking at ways to include Meigs in any legislation on O'Hare expansion
bulletState legislators and their staffs are reporting calls from constituents asking them to reopen Meigs
bulletFriends of Meigs, allies run newspaper, TV ads, see left
The Friends of Meigs Field, NBAA, NATA, EAA and others have taken out full-page ads and 30-second TV spots encouraging legislators to act to reopen Meigs Field
bulletAOPA sends national lobbying team to Springfield
bulletBig News: Rep. Leitch (R, Peoria) introduces amendment
in House to S.B.802, to reopen Meigs
bulletBased on language developed by AOPA
bulletAmendment referred to House Rules Committee
Still need to oppose passage of S.B. 802 unless and until Leitch amendment or similar language reopening Meigs Field is passed

Avweb: Controllers--Chicago airspace unsafe after Meigs closure
Sign an Online Petition

bulletAvweb: Controllers--Chicago airspace unsafe after Meigs closure
bulletCONTROLLERS SAY CHICAGO AIRSPACE SAFETY LEVEL "UNACCEPTABLE"... Air traffic controllers say they can no longer keep the airspace around Chicago safe and have asked the NTSB to intervene. In a news release Wednesday, the National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA) said chronic understaffing, rule changes and the extra burden of traffic from now-closed Meigs Field have pushed ATC staff and facilities too far. "The level of safety has diminished below an acceptable level," said Ray Gibbons, president of NATCA's Chicago chapter, who cited deteriorating conditions and staff morale for a rash of errors in recent weeks. More:
bulletTo subscribe to Avweb's Avflash, visit
bulletRelated story:
Chicago Tribune, May 1: Air traffic controllers tell of chaotic incident in sky
bulletOnline Petition to Reopen Meigs Field
bulletAn online petition to Chicago Mayor Richard Daley has been started to reopen Meigs Field. Over 6,700 electronic "signatures" have already been collected.
bulletThis is not an official Friends of Meigs Field endeavor, and we WILL soon be asking you to take other, additional specific actions to communicate your support for reopening Meigs to our elected leaders.
bulletNevertheless, the more signatures collected, the stronger the position for all actions to reopen Meigs.
bulletYou can sign electronically by visiting

Chicago Mayor
Harold Washington

bulletSun-Times Article: 20 Years Later: Mayor Washington -- Legacy of Openness is Missed, Meigs Example Cited
On Monday, the Chicago Sun-Times ran an article on the 20th anniversary of the inauguration of Mayor Harold Washington, Chicago's first African-American mayor.
bulletWashington was known and loved for his openness in government, a quality that is widely missing from more recent City decisions.  One quote from the article:
bullet"I do think [Washington] created a benchmark for openness in government," Pelissero said. "And Daley has not been faithful to that part of it. He tends to make decisions in a fairly closed fashion with a small circle of advisers. Gosh, you only need to look at Meigs Field."
bulletRead the article by Scott Fornek in the Chicago Sun-Times archive at:
bulletVisit the Chicago Public Library's "Remembering Harold" photo gallery:
bulletMayor Daley heading to DC to ask for MORE transportation dollars???
bulletNews reports indicate that Chicago Mayor Richard Daley is headed to Washington, DC to lobby Congress for additional funds for transportation infrastructure this week.
bulletIf it's true, wouldn't you like to be a fly on the wall as Chicago makes its pitch for new transportation funding with a straight face?
bulletCongressman: "And what did you do with the dollars we ALREADY sent you for transportation infrastructure?"
bulletMeigs plaintiffs beef up complaint
bulletThe plaintiffs in the Cook County lawsuit that have at least temporarily halted the bulldozers at Meigs Field filed an amended complaint, yesterday.  Responding to comments by Judge Maki on the eligibility of some of the initial plaintiffs to bring the "quo warranto" (acting without authority) count against the City, two new plaintiffs have joined the suit, strengthening it.
bulletIn addition, some of the limited information provided by the City in response to the plaintiffs' discovery request has been incorporated into the complaint.
bulletForbes Magazine Weighs In
bulletIn his April 28 column, Forbes publisher Rich Karlgaard writes under the headline "Mayor Daley's Big Goof"
bullet"This little jewel of an airport was an asset to Chicago's business community." 
bullet Click to read
bulletRush Limbaugh takes Daley to task over Meigs
bulletCalling Meigs a "great airport", today Rush criticized Mayor Daley today for Meigs' closure. Click to listen.
bulletSuccessful Fundraiser: 
bulletSupporters come out to Palwaukee
bulletFly in from as far away as South Carolina
bulletJudge: City must provide info on night raid of Meigs Field (Full Story)
bulletBack to Yellow Alert: Flight Restrictions lifted over Chicago, NYC, and DC.  City fans fears again.  (Chicago Tribune)

EAA's Bob Warner, Rachel Goodstein, NATA's Jim Coyne, and Steve Whitney at the fundraiser
EAA's Bob Warner, Rachel Goodstein, NATA's Jim Coyne, and Steve Whitney at the fundraiser

Friends of Meigs Defense Fund a major success

bulletOn Sunday, an "emergency dinner party" (a new concept in social entertaining) was a success in raising funds to defend the "Coolest Little Airport on the Planet." The funds received are a good start toward meeting the legal bill already incurred to reopen Meigs.  Thank you to everyone who participated, especially on such short notice.
bulletNATA president Jim Coyne spoke on the need for Meigs as part of the national airport system, and pledged NATA's support to reopen Meigs as soon as possible. 
bulletEAA Executive VP Bob Warner presented a check to the Meigs Defense Fund from EAA, and also pledged EAA's support.

U.S. House of Representatives: Meigs closure "unprecedented," "illegal," "outrageous"


Yesterday, the U.S. House Subcommittee on Aviation held hearingsin Washington on general aviation. The attack on Meigs Field dominated the testimony:


Chairman Mica (FL): Suggested that the action may have ramifications for Chicago's future transportation funding requests, saying "It is pretty difficult to sit up here and listen to requests for additional infrastructure when destruction like that is taking place."


Ranking member DeFazio (D, OR) suggested the troops of Iraqi Freedom practice repairing airports by starting on Meigs Field


Rep.  Boswell (IA): destruction of the Meigs runway is "unprecedented and, in my view, illegal."


Rep. Hayes (NC): "Outrageous"


AOPA president Phil Boyer presented a comprehensive presentation on Meigs, saying that never had AOPA received such an outpouring of e-mails and letters, not even after the national airspace was closed following the 9/11 terrorist attacks.  (AOPA presentation)


Meigs damage repair cost estimates:
AOPA: $300,000 to $500,000
City: (verbal estimate:) $30,000,000 (More like the cost of a whole new runway from scratch)
Whom do YOU trust?


Rep. Lipinski (D, Chicago): AOPA should not "give hope" that Meigs can be reopened.
(Pardon us, Rep. Lipinski, for respectfully disagreeing...)


City of Chicago files motion to dismiss lawsuit


Yesterday, the City of Chicago filed a motion to dismiss the Friends of Meigs' lawsuit in Cook County Circuit Court.  The move is a standard procedural maneuver, and was expected.


"Daley's Meigs alibi crumbles"


Chicago Sun-Times: Daley's Meigs alibi crumbles


Chicago Tribune: Ridge `disappointed' at Daley's closing of Meigs Field


Senator Inhofe: "Outrageous...arrogant recklessness"


Chicago Tribune


AOPA files federal suit


Copy of suit


AOPA places full page ads in Chicago Tribune, Sun-Times


Copy of ad

bullet Last trapped aircraft leaves Meigs Field
bulletNews Release:
April 4, 2003
For Immediate Release

Temporary restraining order issued to stop any further demolition of Meigs Field
Friends of Meigs News Release
bulletNews Release:
April 4, 2003
For Immediate Release

Friends of Meigs File Suit to Reopen Airport
Release Tape of Dramatic Air Traffic Conflict Prevented by Meigs Controllers

bulletDramatic audio:
Meigs Field Tower prevents a mid-air collision days before it is shut down.
bulletListen to audio of tower/aircraft conversation.  MP3 (160KB) or WAV (1.37 MB)
bulletRead the transcript
bulletNational Aviation Groups to President Bush:  Meigs' Demolition Must be Stopped
bulletAOPA announces Meigs defense strategy
bulletCivic Committee:  Mayor's action "does severe harm" to city-business relationship
bulletIllinois Assn. of Air and Critical Care Transport: Stunned Over Closing of Meigs and the Implications on Critical Patients

AOPA announces it has just begun to fight


National aviation groups protest to President Bush


IAACCT - Air Medical Community Stunned Over Closing of Meigs and the Implications on Critical Patient Transport into Downtown Chicago Hospital


Illinois Association of Air and Critical Care Transport issues statement decrying closure: "Stunned over Implications"


Stranded aircraft leave Meigs Field

bulletThe FAA has given a waiver for the remaining 16 aircraft at Meigs Field to depart the airfield using the taxiway.
03/31/2003 to 4/1/2003:

Press Releases, Articles & News Coverage


FAA (Federal Aviation Administration)


NATCA (National Air Traffic Controllers Association)


NATA (National Air Transportation Association)


NBAA (National Business Aviation Association)


GAMA (General Aviation Manufacturers Association


IAACCT (Illinois Association of Air and Critical Care Transport)


AOPA (Aircraft Owners & Pilots Association) articles - 1 2 3 4


EAA (Experimental Aviation Association) articles - 1



Chicago Sun-Times Editorial: Meigs maneuvers land Daley where critics want him


Richard Roeper, Chicago Sun-Times: Mayor leaves his mark in worst way at Meigs


Mark Brown, Chicago Sun-Times: Daley's got an act to sell--if anyone's buying it


Chicago Tribune Editorial: A pre-emptive strike on Meigs


Eric Zorn, Chicago Tribune: X's mark spot where Daley went too far


BBC News: Chicago runway bulldozed


Phil Kadner, Daily Southtown: Foes shocked and awed in Battle of Meigs Field


Crains: Minus Meigs.  City and Business will suffer, Poll









Chicago Sun-times





City Uses Storm-Troop Tactics to Trash Meigs

Friends of Meigs to City: “For homeland security, closing Meigs is the riskiest thing possible”

Chicago, IL – The City of Chicago today used surprise and shock tactics to start demolishing Meigs Field, the world-renowned airport serving downtown, ripping up runway without notice in the dark of night under police guard. “We are in shock,” said Rachel Goodstein, president of the Friends of Meigs Field. “The City of Chicago had agreed to keep Meigs Field open until 2026,” she said, citing a December 2001 agreement between Mayor Daley and Governor Ryan.

“This smacks of totalitarianism,” said Goodstein. “It is nothing but an unmitigated land grab.”
The demolition came without warning, when dozens of heavy earth-movers descended on Meigs shortly after it closed at 10:00 P.M. Sunday night. The Friends of Meigs only received warning via news media inquiries. When Friends of Meigs representatives tried to visit the airport to talk to officials about the situation, they were turned away from the area by armed police.

“We understand that the City is trying to use ‘homeland security’ as an excuse to destroy Meigs without notice,” said Goodstein. “Of all of the possible things they could do, that’s the worst possible for public security. If there is a security issue at an airport, you work with the users to resolve it in the least disruptive manner, you don’t destroy millions of dollars of taxpayer property.”

The Friends of Meigs Field have repeatedly pointed out that—not only does Meigs Field regularly handle medevac flights and air-sea rescue operations for the lakefront and downtown high rises—it also is the facility responsible for control of all air traffic over downtown Chicago.  “Meigs Field is what protects us from what the Mayor fears,” said Goodstein. “If he wants better airspace security, he should encourage MORE people to use Meigs.” Meigs Field’s control tower controls all traffic within 4 ½ miles of downtown Chicago. Also, since September 11, 2001, security has been tighter at Meigs than at any other small airport in the state.


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Friends of Meigs Field
P.O. Box 59-7308 , Chicago, IL 60659-7308
Voice Mail: 312-458-9250   FAX: 847-966-6168
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