AOPA works to free stranded Meigs pilots

January 4, 2003

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City of Chicago suddenly tears up the Meigs
Field runway, stranding some 16 aircraft.
AOPA photos by Mark Schaible.
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Within the first day after Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley destroyed the runway at Merrill C. Meigs Field, fully half of the owners whose aircraft are stranded turned to AOPA for help in escaping Daley's snare.

"What we've got to do now is help those 16 victims of Daley's war against Meigs get their aircraft back safely," said AOPA President Phil Boyer. "At this point, there isn't much hope of Meigs reopening."

AOPA has worked with the FAA and the city of Chicago to help spring the trapped aircraft. Among other things, AOPA provided aircraft performance data to help determine if the Meigs taxiway could be used safely as a runway.

"The 3,100-foot taxiway will be used for departures, with certain stipulations," said Woody Cahall, AOPA's vice president of aviation services. "The FAA's Great Lakes Region will hold a meeting on Wednesday morning to work out process and procedures for the stranded aircraft to depart."

Following that meeting, the city plans to issue a modified notam that will define a very narrow window during which the aircraft already at Meigs may depart. Airport officials will work with the aircrafts' pilots to figure out what time works best.

"There was also a great deal of confusion earlier today," said Cahall. "But AOPA has now established good working relationships with all the parties involved in the departure process and is ensuring the smooth flow of information."

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