More than 250 people turned out for the Third Annual Friends of Meigs Field Touch the Sky Benefit Saturday night. The gala was held at the Adler Planetarium located immediately adjacent to Meigs Field.
AOPA President Phil Boyer addressed the gathering and read letters of support from key members of the Illinois congressional delegation. Illinois Senator Richard Durbin wrote Boyer that the National Aviation Capacity Expansion Act, S.2039 (which guarantees the future operation of Meigs Field and expands airport capacity in the Chicago area), "has the support of a bipartisan majority of the Senate. I wanted to thank you and AOPA for working closely with Senator Grassley (R-Iowa), Congressman Lipinski (D-Ill.), and me on this legislation. AOPA has been an integral part of getting the message out about this legislation and building support in the general aviation community."
Congressman William O. Lipinski thanked Boyer for the association's support, noting that "AOPA's leadership has helped assist us in gathering more than 106 cosponsors for this historic legislation."
Boyer also made note of the many people and organizations who have worked to help save Meigs Field, including AOPA Great Lakes Regional Representative Bill Blake, who was AOPA's "secret weapon" in the battle. Blake was the former Illinois state aviation director.
"In the battle to save airports, organizations like AOPA can help, and we can bring national attention to the issues," said Boyer. "But the key to every successful save is the dedicated, selfless efforts of one individual who will undertake the crusade to preserve their airport. In the case of this airport, Friends of Meigs Field founder Steve Whitney is that crusader. And the message to pilots everywhere is that it is ultimately up to you to keep your airport open."
The Third Annual Touch the Sky Benefit raised funds to support programs like the Friends of Meigs Field Open House and EAA "Young Eagles" co-sponsored with the Chicago "DODO" Chapter of the Tuskegee Airmen.
Hal Shevers of Sporty's Pilot Shop was the main event sponsor.