City of Chicago suddenly tears up the Meigs
Field runway, stranding some 16 aircraft.
AOPA photos by Mark Schaible.
It's been a day of red tape and frustration for pilots stranded at Meigs Field airport, but in yet another turn-around, pilots have been released for departure now. North takeoffs have suddenly been authorized (into today's prevailing wind), and at least five pilots are preparing to go. Officials are attempting to notify the other pilots.
The city had issued a local notam authorizing the use of the 3,100-foot taxiway at Meigs as a runway for departures to the south only. But with the winds blowing at 15-20 knots out of the north all day, the city late this afternoon opted to authorize north departures.
AOPA spent most of the day yesterday, acting as a conduit between all the different factions, helping pilots with aircraft performance data the FAA and city aviation officials wanted, and making sure all parties had the latest accurate information.
Meanwhile, the timing of the closure is looking even more suspicious. According to a report published in this morning's Chicago Tribune, airport workers were instructed by their city bosses to secretly count the number and note the size and type of aircraft parked at the airport each night last week. According to the Tribune report, "That may have been to help ensure that there were no larger private planes, such as a King Air business jet [sic], stuck on the field when six giant 'X' marks were carved into the runway using construction equipment."
"The depths of Daley's conniving continue to astound me," said AOPA President Phil Boyer. "Has the man no shame?"