As predicted, the first Chicago Approach controller had a re-route for us, but at least a choice. Either over the southern end of Lake Michigan–a bit more direct, or south and west of the city before turning back toward PWK–longer, for sure. I chose the longer route because that lake is COLD this time of year in particular and we would be at relatively low altitude by then.
So around Robinhood’s barn we went and ultimately landed with about an hour of fuel on this VFR day, so plenty. Then it was nearly an hour car ride downtown where we really wanted to go. If only there were a GA airport nearer downtown. What a concept!
Standing on the lake shore looking out at Northerly Island, I felt as if I were at a wake–missing an old friend. Once the site of embattled Meigs Field, a perfect GA airport only blocks from the heart of Chicago, the island is now just another park among dozens along the lake shore. Mayor Richard Daley cowardly bulldozed the airport under the cover of darkness, knowing he couldn’t get away with it any other way.
For pilots, the Meigs legacy has become the poster child of the dangers of backroom politics and lack of federal protection for key airports. Legislation since then may reduce the likelihood of such a deed occurring again, but it won’t stop those of us who enjoy Chicago from wishing we had a more convenient choice.
Don’t let this happen to your airport. AOPA has lots of resources to help you protect your airport from the Mayor Daleys of the world and others who would do general aviation harm. But most important, get involved.