Remembrances of the fight to save Meigs Field in Chicago brought back memories for many readers.
I was crushed when the airport was destroyed by the self-glorified mayor. I fly over the site several times a week and feel the slap in the face every time. The economic loss to the area is also huge and worth mentioning as well. If only the Chicago Tribune would pick up your article.
It was with at least a little heartache that I read your story in AOPA Pilot. I have not lived in the Chicago area for almost 40 years but, for pilots, where you live has little relationship to where you go.
I am a Chicago native and lived there three times. When I came back from Hawaii for the third and final time, in 1971, the closing of airports was a huge issue. During that era the following airports closed: Sky Harbor, Chicagoland, Moody, Mitchell, York Township, and Hinsdale.
I had flown into all of those airports except Sky Harbor. So, two days after it closed, I went in for a landing and taxi back. I looked back over my shoulder during the landing roll and some guy was chasing after me waving his arms. It was at that moment that a touch and go seemed more prudent. After all, I was an FAA employee and it wouldn’t look good. The statute of limitations must have passed by now.
Meigs was a pet of Mayor Daley Senior. It was during his reign that the phrase about Chicago was born: “Home of the world’s largest airport, the world’s busiest airport, and the world’s smallest airport,” referring to ORD (O’Hare), MDW (Midway), and CGX (Meigs). The thought that Mayor Daley Junior would close his father’s often-used airport was astonishing and must have had the old guy rolling in the grave. Senior often flew out of Meigs to get to the capitol, and State of Illinois aircraft were frequent users of Meigs.
Your story should cause GA operators to always be on the alert for some evildoer trying to close our portals.
Prior Lake, Minnesota
I am sorry, but I am confused. You say, “Meigs is a beacon of hope” and “If the other side hadn’t cheated....” The entire point of Meigs is that the other side did cheat and there was no victory. Meigs is a symbol of political narcissism run amok and the only lesson to be learned is that the system is seriously broken. Any politician with chutzpah and some bulldozers can come in at any time and clobber a national aviation landmark, and the only penalty will be at the expense of the taxpayers—who will have to cough up the money to pay back themselves for the fines. There was no hope from Meigs, just a dire warning.
I would like to add my wholehearted support to the goals and principles behind the CAPComm program [Center to Advance the Pilot Community], specifically the social aspect of flying embodied by flying clubs, which I believe has a major impact on retaining active (not just certificated) pilots (“Member News and Notes”).
The biggest problem I faced as a recreational pilot was simply nowhere to go, with nothing to do. Without flying clubs—or social groups like the Sunday Morning Breakfast Club that AOPA brought to my attention (“Will Fly for Food,” February 2013 AOPA Pilot)—what does the new pilot do? Plop down $200, fly around the city for an hour and come home? As much as I love flying, even I can think of better ways to spend $200. But add a flying club to bring both affordability and camaraderie, and you’re getting an afternoon (or morning) of purpose to flying.
It’s like the difference between lifting weights by yourself in your basement versus joining a health club with programs, social events, and other cool stuff to get you out of your cave. Conversations with my flight instructor and head of the school confirm similar attitudes in whatever happened to? student pilots.
AOPA and the GA industry have lost track of what GA flying is supposed to be about: fun! Those good old days were indeed the good old days, never to be seen again! P.S. Recently two friends gave up flying days after they received their private. It was too expensive, too controlled, and no darn fun!
Flemington, New Jersey
I think Dave Hirschman confused need and want (“P&E: The Good Old Days Weren’t So Great”). Some time ago (1960) I was a private pilot and had never used an electric starter, nose-wheel, VHF radio, or the FAA (except for my written test and flight check). As a naval aviator for 30 years, I enjoyed lickety-split jets with a lot of cockpit toys. I have always stayed current with GA; my present mount is a Cessna 182M with a KNS-80, which is all I need to get me out and in on foggy days. When some distance from Class B and C, I enjoy canceling services and hang up the headset. It is important to me to know where I am and where I am going rather than being told where I am and where I am going.
It is wonderful to want these great new avionics. But the author’s first paragraph correctly identified the associated problem—high cost. I learned to fly while working my way through college. I don’t think that is possible today. It seems to me that the “good old days” (for me) were much more affordable and maybe more fun.
The photos on the first page of Dave Hirschman’s “Frugal Flier” caught my eye because my aircraft has both the new Garmin 750 and the old KNS-80. I love to plot my cross-country flights with both. No matter how accurate I think I am being when I measure the distance off VOR radials to provide the inputs to the KNS-80, the fly-by points still have minor deviations from the Garmin 750 course being used by the autopilot. I love both the precision and the ease of use of that Garmin 750.
When my oldest child turned 30 a few years ago I decided to restore my own joy of flying, retrained, and bought a Turbo Arrow. During that retraining I showed my young flight instructor a flight plan I had saved in my old books from my original training. His reaction was, “If I had to do all that I would have quit flying.” I just laughed. I actually enjoy double and triple redundancy in plotting my plans. That “third” that I add to the Garmin 750 and the KNS-80? Well, an iPad with ForeFlight, of course!
Barry Schiff’s “Proficient Pilot: Airmanship” reminded me of the primary instructor I had during CFI training. He told me I should conduct every flight as if I had an employer in the back, sipping a drink. If I took a turn onto a taxiway a little too fast or was a little too abrupt in my course corrections, he’d say, “You spilled my drink.” I never became a corporate pilot, but I try to fly as if my job depends on it to this day.
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