January 12, 2005
Mr. Robert Malkas
Lansing Municipal Airport
18200 Chicago Avenue
Lansing, IL 60438
Dear Mr. Malkas:
As President of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA), representing more than 400,000 members, I am at a loss for words to express my complete incredulity over the quote attributed to you in a January 11, 2005, Chicago Tribune story:
"I want to thank Mayor Daley for tearing down his airport."
How absolutely ludicrous to refer to the aviation tragedy of Chicago's Merrill C. Meigs Field in such a manner, much less celebrate its demise because of your airport's gain.
I would like to suggest that, rather than a huge influx of planes using Lansing Airport during the upcoming Rotary International Convention, you should not be surprised if your airport is boycotted instead. It may well be that many of the attending Rotary pilots - people who are inherently business builders - will use the many other available GA airport options in the area.
Even today, a significant number of AOPA members contact me regularly and raise their continued frustration and dismay over Mayor Daley's actions. AOPA's efforts to keep Meigs open date back to the mid-1990s, and I assure you that we invested significant resources into trying to do just that.
While Daley's actions were apparently legal at the time, under the dated Federal Aviation Administration airport grant rules, Daley's indefensible destruction of public infrastructure has so incensed Congress that they have subsequently changed the law. It is obvious that your general aviation airport and others in the Chicago area now enjoy increased traffic counts due to the mayor's actions...but to thank Mayor Daley in print in one of Chicago's premier newspapers? You are clearly out of touch with the very community you serve.
You now know my feelings on the matter. I am confident that others will make their opinions clearly known to you as well.