AOPA members react angrily to Meigs closure

March 31, 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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News of Chicago Mayor Richard Daley's ambush closure of Merrill C. Meigs Field had hardly broken this morning before AOPA began hearing from its members.

In calls and e-mails to the Pilot Information Center and AOPA President Phil Boyer, members expressed shock and dismay.

"If this action is allowed to stand without protest," wrote one member, "I then can only conclude that General Aviation is truly dying in America.... If this is allowed to stand, I may as well sell my plane, cancel all my CFI training, and hang up my goggles."

Several members' e-mails likened Daley's overnight actions to those of a terrorist or a dictator. "I am starting to feel that I too live in Iraq with dictators changing the rules in the middle of the night," wrote one member. Another pilot, responding all the way from the United Kingdom, said, "Is he employed by the citizens of [Chicago] or by Saddam Hussein? This sort of action just does the terrorist's work for him."

Others raised safety concerns. "What is especially bad for pilots is the lack of contact with the controlling agencies," said one member. Another, commenting on the tentative plan to use the taxiway to get the 16 stranded aircraft out of the airport, said, "I wouldn't. Its not safe at all."

One pilot told AOPA he plans to boycott Chicago until Meigs is reopened. "I will not do business in Chicago. I will not stay in Chicago's hotels or dine at Chicago's restaurants. I will not fly on a commercial flight that terminates or transfers through Chicago." He concludes, "There may be no legal ground to prevent the closure, but we can certainly make it as painful as possible for the Mayor's administration...."

To express your sentiments regarding the closure and destruction of Meigs Field, contact Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley at mayordaley@cityofchicago.org or Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich at governor@state.il.us.

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