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Meigs Field - 10 Years Later

Today marks the tenth anniversary of the sudden overnight destruction of Meigs Field by former Mayor Richard M. Daley. The dramatic and perhaps illegal closure of the airfield stranded 16 aircraft and made the signature airport a thing of the past. Now it is called "Northerly Island," a rather decrepit grassland, instead of a beautiful park that Daley had envisioned or the airport that we all once knew. Today Friends of Meigs Field is performing a flyover of the former airport in… ( More...

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Jim Quinn 17
I flew over Meigs Field a few days afterward and silently cursed the moron Mayor and his cronies. I, too, believe that he should have been prosecuted personally and forced to pay for the removal of the aircraft stranded by his stupid, arrogant, illegal decision to destroy the airport.
josh homer 7
I knew it was closed, but never knew why. Daley sounds like a typical Illinois politician. What was to gain by doing it in secret? Are there really planes stranded there? I have so many questions! The article mentioned a planned park. Perhaps he was paid off by a development company?
Ben Deneweth 9
The dozen or so planes that were stranded there were allowed to fly out under special permission (I think they took off from the parallel taxiway, which was left in-tact). I doubt any development company was involved. I think it was more of a pride thing. He wanted a grand edifice park built in his honor. And yes, the only politicians that used it were downstate Republicans so that had something to do with it too. It actually would have been quite useful if the Olympics were held in Chicago, but it was not to be. There is a park there, but there isn't much to it - juts a hastily constructed outdoor amphitheater and a bunch of field grass and jogging paths. It's fairly remote on foot so not a lot of people would really use a park located there. They let the kids camp there during lollapalooza last year and as you can imagine, it was quite a shit show and I think one kid drowned.
josh homer 5
Excellent, thanks for clearing that up. Still such a jerk move to do that, especially in secret. I used to travel to Chicago quite a bit (mostly for Giordano's lol) and loved Meigs. Such a tragic end to a great airport.
Richard Daley should have been impeached for doing this . . It shows no care,in the world for people who helped build the city or the aircraft owners .. Meigs Field should have remained open .. How many other mayors pulled off such a stunt after 9-11 ... None on record ... True arrogance at it's finest !
I still have a feeling that at some point the park will turn into private condos, offices, and businesses. Since the city owns it they can sell it. That might be why no real structure has taken place. Just letting time and people pass. I learned to fly at MDW in the late 60's and Meigs was the neatest place to land. Nearly the whole lakefront was already a park so....
Henry Fiorentini -4
Please don't be so mean spirited.
After 10 years, Northerly Isle remains what Chicago has always been known for, which is a beautiful lakrfront. There will be no condos, much as it may be necessary to say such things for some people to justify their complaints. It is a top draw to visitors and natives - something Meigs never was....
They needed another park like they needed another crook for mayor. Lol
Heinz Apfl 1
Henry Fiorentini -2
Seriously, they need another condo like...
But it IS a beautiful lakefront park.
Yes, I'd like it better with GA in the baackground, but a beautiful downtown lakefront IS the hallmark of Chicago postcards...
It already had a beautiful lakefront with gobs of park and access area. We agree on the beautiful part.
pfp217 4
I was up there last October and decided to take a walk around it. The terminal building and tower was still intact. There is just a looping path that encircled where the runway was.

I have flown in there numerous times as I worked for two different carriers that flew there. It was a pretty surreal walk. Sad really. There was a Super Cub towing a banner as I walked and, although he was about 2000 AGL it looked like he was lining up for 36 at Meigs each time he came around.

[This poster has been suspended.]

AccessAir 6
A 474??? Do you mean a 747????
Just so you know for next time. The big boys use the last 2 digits of the designation and add the model. Hence a 747 dash 400 becomes a 474. That is something I learned on this website as I fly a single engine with a prop. Now you too can be cool. Lol
Akash Dhillon 2
Cool and interesting
Martin Dennett 2
I'm more nostalgic about it because most of my Flight Simulator flights were out of Meigs to O'Hare, if I didn't have a lot of time to make longer flights :)
AWAAlum 2
The very first time I flew was back in the late 50's when I moved from Chicago to San Francisco. I decided to make it an event, and so took a helicopter from Meigs Field to O'Hare. Did that weight management thingy at Meigs, moving me from the front compartment to the rear compartment several times (young and naive, I didn't realize it was my pleated skirt that continued to flutter up over my head that was likely the more genuine motivation-hehehe). Then boarded an American Airlines 707 on which my new San Francisco roommate was one of the "stewardesses" was a magnificent day in my life. Meigs Field was iconic and as much a part of Chicago as the Sears Tower, the Hancock Center, Buckingham Fountain, etc. Bulldozing it was criminal. But then, we have a Daley to thank - no surprise there.
cos3asg 1
Great story, Donna, and thank you for it. Nice t see someone remembering the "grander" days of aviation. I also like the fact that you do so with humour and a bit of nostalgia. Aviation has come a long way since then, but sometimes one has to wonder if it has really "progressed."
AWAAlum 1
Thanks, Cos. Re the "progress" - in some ways most definitely - in others, not so much. Flying, prior to deregulation was indeed an event, one we got dressed up for. I'm all for comfort and relaxation wearing our casual clothes today, but somehow flying back then wasn't all about the destination, but about the journey there, as well.
Dee Lowry 1
Donna, as you know, I flew during the days when flying was a "class act". Then after degregulation...everything went downhill from there. Like you said, the luxury of flying went from a "class act" to a "bus terminal". Prices were so low that the first time flyers...who usually took the bus, donned there "bathrobe"...(literatly) and boarded the aircract adorned with their hair curlers! Didn't take long for "class" to become a thing of the past...never to be seen again. The types of people who started flying were very challenged, as far as air travel. People would push the Flight Attendant Call Button and speak into the panel above their head...thinking that they would be able to order their "Big Mac with oversized fries with a 32oz coke on the side! I'm being serious! I had now idea people were so...clueless! Celebration was a given if we heard a "Please" or a "Thankyou". (Please and Thankyou are words that will never be spoken again). Very said. Communicaction skills were non exsistant with these people. Now with the "high tech" era, people don't speak to communicate...they text. People and communication skills, as I said, are a thing of the past. Todays mode of transportation, flying...has not progressed...unfortunately, it has deteriorated in more was than one. Today's air travel is all about company greed and as far as the pax's all about them. They feel entitled. It's...I want, I want and I want more because you owe me. Seriously? I'm so fortunate to have flown in the days when it was a luxury mode of transportation and I witnessed the deregulation downfall of Aviation
Michael Fuquay 3
What do you expect out of Chicago?
A beautiful lakefront, for the common people?
Oh, yes. That's what it is....
Ric Wernicke 2
Perhaps Richie (Daley) could be elected Governor. Then he could be thrown in prison with the rest of the IL Governors.
You ever get to check out c56?
Dee Lowry 1
This kind of destruction and corruption has plagued "the Windy City" for years...thanks to "the Daley family GOODFELLAS"! The Daley regime has been "Untouchable" and why the locals keep supporting this type of mentality...I'll never know. The only outstanding visual about Chicago, (from the air) IMHO, is the west approach to O'Hare, with the city hugging the Lake Michigan shoreline. On a bright, sunny early spring truely is a beautiful sight. Although without Miegs Field, one really can sense the loss of a prominent landmark.
AWAAlum 1
Dee, just a little bit of trivial info-did you know Chicago's "Windy City" didn't actually refer to it being windy (even though it is?). It referenced the wind bag politicians and the Daley Machine, one of the most powerful political machines in American history.
Dee Lowry 1
Yes Donna, I am aware of the "Daley Machine". With the Daley Crime Family of Chicago, who mirrors the Gambino Family of NY, I'm surprised Chicago didn't fall like the Roman Empire. Meigs Field did fall because of the "Daley Family Corruption". The "Daley Machine" destroyed more than a Chicago landmark. They eliminated a part of the city that was so unique, execution style. The Family destroyed the Chicago landmark and now they have encroached on the "White House". God help us.
On the business side, I wonder how much revenue the park generates? I do know that people who flew in generally spent quite a bit of money and conducted quite a bit of business. Is the park just another taxpayer drain or does it generate revenue? Tourists and business people don't come to Chicago just to picnic on an old airport. Just wondering.
AWAAlum 1
Picnicing at an old airport - love it.
An old airport with no planes. Lol
You grow up in "chi" town?
AWAAlum 1
Sure did. Born and raised. A great town. Lived 1 block from the beach. It was great.
Before moving to the south suburbs I spent quite a few years a few blocks from Midway.
AWAAlum 1
I had friends from AA living there on "Stew Row". We moved to the south burbs as well.
AESgroup 1
Bitter, Tears... I'll never forget all those T/Goes on R18/36.... :(
Ian Ward 1
I also have a soft spot for Meigs; and yes it was via a Microsoft Flight Simulator. It was one of the easiest airfields to land at. So I was appalled at the news that some half-witted imbicile of a mayor destroyed the airfield over-night. I live in Scotland and we had someone called Beeching who shut down about half of our rail network. Now the present railway companies are starting to re-instate the closed lines. Could Meigs be re-opened again. There must be plenty of money in Chicago to rebuild the facilities there and relay runway 36. With dunce Daley out of the way, there should be no opposition to restoring Meigs airfield to its former glory.
Ian Ward, Paisley, Scotland
Parkplace 1
I enjoyed flying in from Kalamazoo. We shopped, visited museums, ate in the restaurants. Chicago slammed the door in our faces. Ok, fine. It is still difficult to accept that public officials can get away with crimes of this magnitude. Daly should have been relocated to the neighborhood of the former Illinois governors.
George Rhodes 1
What a shame! That was one of, if not the, nicest urban airports in the USA. We still is it. Can it come back?
If I ever met Daley,I would slap him in the face as hard as I could... and GLADLY pay the fine!!!
Joe Marland 1
I flew in and out of Meigs Field about 2 to 3 times a year from 1955 until the middle 1980s. I recall landing there one dark,cold,windy November evening and the next morning the news paper was reporting the loss of the Edmond Fitzgerald. I am glad Meigs was my last stop going north that night.
wb2cjs 1
From the article: "Ask Chicagoans, would they rather have the Meigs airport for a few people or to go see Jimmy Buffett?" said Green, director of the Institute for Politics at Roosevelt University.

I doubt well-known pilot Jimmy Buffett would want to perform under these circumstances.
And we all know how well the people at these concerts take care of the grounds. It ain't the Henry Mancini crowd. Lol
Thomas Miller 1
I used to land there all the time on my Microsoft Flight Simulator.
Ian Ward 1
I also have a soft spot for Meigs; and yes it was via a Microsoft Flight Simulator. It was one of the easiest airfields to land at. So I was appalled at the news that some half-witted imbicile of a mayor destroyed the airfield over-night. I live in Scotland and we had someone called Beeching who shut down about half of our rail network. Now the present railway companies are starting to re-instate the closed lines. Could Meigs be re-opened again. There must be plenty of money in Chicago to rebuild the facilities there and relay runway 36. With dunce Daley out of the way, there should be no opposition to restoring Meigs airfield to its former glory.
Ian Ward, Paisley, Scotland
Wake up call Henry... Friends and I flew into Megs regularly in the late 90s from WI. to experience the downtown and haven't been back since. I'll always remember the $5cab ride but I'll never be back without a place to land!!!
Rudy Wolfs 1
I hope all FBO's deny Daley and his family access to other airports. He should not be given any support in GA.
Henry Fiorentini -1
Sadly, most of these comments are as over-reactionary as they are wrong.
I am both a pilot who has had the thrill of landing at Meigs, and a Chicagoan.
WIthstanding the midnight raid for a moment, Northely Isle is a testament to the great things of Chicago.

Quit lying fols, just because your feelings are hurt.
It is now a top draw to Chicago on TripAdvisor, wih summer concerts that rival Grant Park!
It is not "decrepit grassland" - except in winter, which would describe everything in Chicago that isn't buried under snow. Why do you have to lie because your feelings are hurt?

Go Google Norhterly Isle. It is a gem of Chicago's Lakefont and one the top 25% attractions in Chicaog (TripAdvisor) - something the 10 planes a day never did for the *people* of Chicago.

I am disappointed that fellow pilots can be so self-centered.
And as far as legality is concerned - it was! The city owned the land, and paid a few thousand in fees for premature closing. Done.
Not my preference, but I don't own the land, and we now have over 10,000 citizens per summer flocking to the park on the lake.

Gee,if anyone wanted to paint pilot as selfish, elitists who are out of touch with anyone but theemelves, I'm afraid threads like this do a good job of self-incrimination.
wb2cjs 2
I think you are completely wrong about the destruction being "legal". It is a federal offense to vandalize any airport, regardless of who "owns" it!

The only way he could legally destroy the airport would be to officially and publicly close it FIRST. When the bulldozers rolled, the airport was open and ATC was IN THE TOWER!

Daly also illegally diverted funds from O'Hare to fund the destruction.

The fact that no one seems to be proposing that the airport be restored (for far less cost than the proposed concert venue) saddens me.
It was legal. There were not lawsuits. Just a few thousand dollars in fines.
I am saddened at your misinformation that you pass off as fact:
>>When the bulldozers rolled, the airport was open and ATC was IN THE TOWER!
It was done in the middle of the night!

I am disappoionted that pilots herein can't see past their own wants.
Tens of Thousands of people flock there every summer, making it one of the top draws on, yet no one seems to realize that 99.9 % of the rest of Chicago (and its tourists) do like parks on the lake...

Reopened? Are you kidding?
there would be outrage from all the families that use it for picnicing, biking, plaaying at the beach and flying kites. The place has become exactly what any city planner would want - a magnet for people (THOUSANDS of people) to come downtown.

>> Daly also illegally diverted funds from O'Hare to fund the destruction
Now you're just making up stuff. That is sad. First of all, Daly had the $10k in his petty cash drawer to pay for the bulldozers, he isn't so stupid as to steal the money...

I like airports, but the rest of the world, less so..
Converting Meigs was a bad thing for pilots, and a great thing for the rest of Chicago...
AWAAlum 2
Me thinks Henry may moonlight as a PR firm. (small joke)

Just a quick, but genuine question, Henry - if his actions were totally legal, I'm wondering why there were fines levied, do you know?
Martin Doyle 1
You are entitled to your opinion on Daly and Meigs. I am a Chicago pilot with an office in the Loop and live on the lakefront. You are adamant about the benefits of more park space. I am adamant about the unique benefits that an an airport amidst the already magnificent Chicago lakefront had. The Midnight Blitz of Meigs, however, is indisputable and indefensible. In a city where you need a permit to paint your garage, how can that selfish, heavy-handedness be perpetrated, except by a corrupt man who was more a dictator that a democratically-elected official.
Ray Fencl 0
I miss the days of flying into Meigs at sunset with the beautiful backdrop of the Chicago Skyline. It was a great airport even if you had to contend with a strong wave of wind coming over McCormack Place on final. Chicago is Chicago and with it comes the Democratic machine.


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