Daley Attacks Miegs Field

Under cover of darkness, around 1:30 am, Da Mayor sent a group of backhoes to Meigs field and, instead of painting X’s on the runway (the traditional method of marking an airport closed) they carved X’s on the runway. About 3 feet deep, according to reports. Lots of them.

This took a number of people by surprise. For instance, the FAA, who did not know about this airport closing until about 4 or 5 hours after it occured. Since the FAA is responsible for broadcasting notices to pilots about such things they were a little perturbed. Especially since the city never bothered to inform them of this at all - they heard about it from the pilots.

When the FBO (fixed base operator - the guys who run the airport) got over the initial shock of seeing the airport vandalized they called the city and asked what they should do about the 16 airplanes parked at the field. The official reply from the city of Chicago? “That’s your problem.” Uh-huh.

Currently, the latest and most likely suggestion for getting the airplanes out of the field is to use the taxiway as a runway. Apparently Dumb-Dumb is somehow under the impression that it is physically impossible for airplanes to take off of anything but an official runway. Or maybe he just wasn’t thinking - there are persistant rumors to that effect.

I’m sure the folks who work in the air traffic control tower were also rather surprised when they came to work this morning.

Daley’s excuse? Tearing up Meigs and closing it permanently is necessary for “security” reasons. I don’t know what sudden new threat was so urgent that it had to be done at 1:30 am without prior warning. Maybe it’s just sour grapes because the Feds wouldn’t give him a no-fly zone over the city like he wanted. Why not? Because there’s no credible threat.

Oh, and never mind the deal was to keep Meigs open as a trade-off for expanding O’Hare - a pet project of Daley’s. Never mind the promises not to close Meigs without warning. Never mind the 16 stranded airplanes - obviously pilots are so wealthy they can afford to just toss expensive hardware away, right? Never mind the amount of business travel that went through that field, contributing to the economic health of the city at large. Never mind the use of that airport as a launching point for the Coast Guard to conduct rescue missions for people in distress on Lake Michigan. Nevermind putting the FBO out of business overnight - I mean, Chicago is in such boom times that we can arbitrarialy destroy a going enterprise just becuase the Mayor has a hissy-fit. Nevermind that no one had warning, so all those folks who work at Meigs show up to work and suddenly realize - fuck, we’re out of a job!

For a little more info see:

Picture, with more links

AOPA’s statement, with link to skycam

So why should those of you who don’t fly aircraft give a damn? Well, aside from the fact that there were promises made and broken… there was a LOT of public opposition to closing Meigs field - indeed, that was why it was still open. This is a case where one politician couldn’t get his way because the public objected/had a different opinion and used the power of his office to do what the hell he wanted to anyway. In other words, what a citizen of Chicago wants doesn’t matter anymore. What the majority of citizens in Chicago want doesn’t matter anymore. Daley feels he can do what he wants wherever he wants within the city limits. To hell with anyone or anything else.

Know what you call that kind of politician? You call that a dictator.

A friend of mine in Chicago emailed me that story and I immediatly came over here to see what you had to say about. :slight_smile:

That’s just fucking unbelievable.

I thought the FAA did implement a temporary no-fly zone over the city. Regardless, what Daley did is astounding, and I can’t wait to get home this evening and watch the news.

Broomstick, could I get your expertise on this quote from the Chicago Tribune?:

How does one move an aircraft “by other means”? By barge? By those platforms attached to semis (technical terms escape me at present)?

We’ve seen what Daley’s promises are worth.

If it were to remain open, how on earth would one of Daily’s cronies ever get a Park along the Lakeshore?

And of course by 'Park", I mean ‘Casino’.

He’s a scumbag. No one should have been surprised by this.

No surprise, Daley has had a hard on against Meigs for years. Expect much litigation to follow.

How can anyone have a hard-on over an airport?

It isn’t the airport so much as the land on which it rests that Mayor Daley has a hard on over.

mile high club?

So, how many lawsuits will result?

And doesn’t the FAA have a say? Couldn’t they lay a major smackdown on Daley?

Yes and no. There IS a TFR (temporary flight restriction) over the Loop but it stops at the lakeshore, specifically to keep Meigs open and available. The VFR flyway just offshore was kept open as well. So Daley got his wish to prevent people from flying over the skyscrapers (a pretty rare affair in any case - of those few who did, most were news helicoptors) but not his wish to close Meigs via the TFR, ban general aviation from Midway and O’Hare, nor a ban of small aircraft flying over anything within city limits.

Normal procedure when an airplane can’t fly out of a field but must be moved is to remove the wing, put the wing and the rest of the plane on a trailer, and tow it out that way. This is fairly expensive, since it requires a skilled mechanic to partially disassemble the airplane (you have to be careful about disconnecting the control cables and so forth, and not puncture anything like a fuel tank) and then reassemble it elsewhere. Um, sure, Daley will pay for the planes to be removed - will he pay for them to be reassembled? I’d want that in writing.

Another option - extremely unlikely but physically possible - would be to shut down about 5000 feet of Lake Shore Drive and take off from there. Heck, the Drive is longer and wider than the runway at Meigs anyhow.

Another option would be to taxi the airplanes along the roads all the way down to Midway and take off from there. Not bloody likely either, but I’d love to see the expression on Daley’s face, wouldn’t you?

Most likely option is to use the taxiway. Whether that’s safe depends in part on its length and the size of the airplanes involved. If it’s at all possible, I think this is the route the FAA will push for because it solves the stranded airplane problem as quickly as possible with minimal disruption for those directly involved. My airport information doesn’t list the length of the taxiway, but going by the length of the runway, the airport diagram, and my own memories of having been there, I’m guessing that taxiway gives about 3000 feet of space for take-off. A lot of airplanes would find that more than sufficient. If, however, there’s something so big it can’t handle that… it’s going to cost a LOT of money to trailer that out.

And the take-apart-and-trailer option is really the only likely one left. The last time I participated in such an operation it took 4 or 5 people 10 hours to take the wing off an airplane and put it on the trailer. (Non-certified people are permitted to assist a certified mechanic in such an operation - we’re a lot cheaper, too. I did it for food and the experience. That’s a couple hot dogs and a six pack of Coke instead of $50/hour) That was a very small airplane, a two-seat kit plane and a cloth wing that four people could lift. (It’s not just the weight but also controlling that sucker - if the wind hits it wrong it turns into a kite that can lift 1200+ lbs off the ground - including any humans holding onto it at the time). Doing that on a larger, factory-built plane is going to be even more work and may require some machinery to do the heavy lifting. They will not be able to clear all 16 out in a day, that’s for sure.

Depends on whether or not he actually broke any laws. The city does own the land, after all. Certainly, the FBO owner and airplane owners are free to file suits, who knows if they’ll win?

Now, if the FAA can sick some lawyers on him that may get interesting… but I’m not an expert on that angle and, if the city’s lawyers were on the ball, he may be in the clear. (Although the Feds will be pissed off at him, along with the downstate politicians who used to use that field to fly in and out of Chicago). Regardless, Daley spent a lot of political capital when he did this, and that may be more damaging to the city in the long run than paying off lawsuits.

The FAA controls the airspace - they do not control the land. The land, as I said, belongs to the city of Chicago. Even the control tower is not Federally owned. The controllers will, no doubt, be re-assigned elsewhere. A competant controller is not likely to be out of a job for long.

Someone pointed out to me today that, ironically, MY local airport might benefit from this. Certainly, Gary Regional will pick up some of the Meigs business, which it desparately needs since Pan Am pulled out. More business there improves the tax base in Gary, Indiana and might even result in more jobs - but that’s not even in the same state even if it is now the closest airport to downtown Chicago. Boy, the limos and taxis are going to be happy with taking the businessfolk to and from downtown and Gary airport!

In other words, Mayor Daley hated Meigs field so much that, not only was he willing to kill a business in downtown Chicago (the FBO), but he was ALSO willing to see the business (and tax revenue) go to another state.

That’s not your average political move, now is it?

So… my city and local airports might well benefit from this… but that doesn’t mean we pilots are at all happy about it. Sure, we want our little airports to be successful, and they’ve all been hurting for the last few years, but this isn’t the way we want it to happen.

Thanks, Broomstick, for your erudite and informative response. “Trailer” seems to be the technical term I was searching for. :rolleyes: I’m a moron.


I have to admit that your boss has found a pretty novel way of keeping you from flying (it being so unsafe and all). You have to admire the guy’s ingenuity. :wink:

Ahhhh…crap. I see from your post (after I posted, 'natch) that this wasn’t your airport! Dammit. Another day late, another dollar short…

I don’t know what to say.

How fucking stupid do you have to be to pull a stunt like that? I mean, merely closing it is bad enough, but to come out there and carve up the runway so it’s useless as even a means to get the airplanes out or use in an emergency is unbelievable.

GA got hurt bad today. Real bad.

Oh, please let’s not delve into that again! This will not affect my flying at all. At least not in the immediate future, in any way I can foresee. (And see, I’m not irrational ALL the time - neener, neener, neener!)

A couple more updates:
The FAA might fine the city for violations of Federal Aviation Regulation (FAR) Part 157, which requires advance notice of the deactivation, discontinuance, or abandonment of an airport or any landing or takeoff area of an airport for a period of one year or more. (If they can, they will - the FAA has a knack for fines)

Here’s an interesting quote from AOPA:

In other words, while before Daley was incorrect in the “nobody knows” stance, now it IS true. There’s no longer anyone assigned to watch the air over/near the lakefront. Um… how does this make us more secure?

AOPA also reports that “even some members of the Illinois congressional delegation were caught unawares, particularly interesting since those members of Congress had been working with Mayor Daley on legislation that would preserve Meigs and expand O’Hare International Airport.”

I did mention something about this costing Daley some political capital…?

Definitely have to watch the 4 o’clock news today…

Well, watched the news…

At least we pilots are not alone at finding this a snarky, suspicious activity. Much good that that will do :rolleyes:

I’m just fucking disgusted over the whole thing. Goddammit, I was PROUD to earn a pilot’s license! It’s not like a cure for cancer, sure, but I got off my ass and fulfilled a personal dream. That’s worth something. And it’s not like they cut you any slack on the tests, either - you really do have to EARN a pilot’s license.

So, he says he’s doing this to make the city safer? Bullshit.

Hell, I feel less secure. Between the fucking demonstrations closing down Lake Shore Drive, the riot police everywhere, and now this…! What if Da Mayor decides MY employer represents as threat? Will I show up to work in the Loop one morning and find rubble instead of my job? What if a bunch of businesses decide to start a movement in the city not to employ anyone who has a pilot’s license “because those people might be terrorists!”

Sure, those are extreme examples – but the fact I’m thinking that way at all shows that I am, indeed unsettled by the whole affair. It didn’t occur to me that Da Mayor would chew up a runway in the middle of the night and strand 16 people and not give a fuck about it. The world is a crazy place right now, and I’m sick of dealing with fucking cowards. Because that’s what he is - a fucking coward. If he had an ounce of courage he would have done this in the light of day.

Fuck, maybe I should look for another job, one away from that crazy, fucked-up city and the bullshit I’m having to deal with. Sure, the present job is good money, but I’ve got skills that could be used lots of different places. And I can stop paying double-taxes on the local level (that’s a penalty you get for living in Indiana and working in Illinois).

Maybe I can even get a job at an airport where they LIKE people who fly planes.

Yep, may be time to move on to a more hospitable environment.

(You didn’t seriously think I’d start a rant thread and not have some real ranting in it, did you?)

I am a computer geek. At my work, I have squeeze between a Beaver and SuperCub to go reset the router. The key for the electrical closet is chained to a Lycoming piston.

Life is good. :wink:

At least it will be until some asshole decides to come bulldoze my airport.

Is abyone really suprised that Daley would pull a stunt like that? He’s his father’s son, and that’s not a compliment. Even worst, he’s just been re-elected, and so will be a nuisance for the next four years. Even worst still, I don’t think that there’s anything stopping him from running for re-election in 2007, due to the way politics have devolved in Chicago in recent years.

Does anyone have the details of this “agreement” that he signed promising to keep Meigs open? Any word from him yet on breaking it?