Jill Tallman

Missing Meigs and Cousin John

March 30, 2009 by Jill W. Tallman, Associate Editor

Monday, March 30, is the six-year anniversary of the demolition of Meigs Field in Chicago. I know lots of you had a soft spot in your hearts for this jewel on the lake.

Ten years ago, my family drove out to Chicago to visit my husband’s cousin, John Houghtaling. John was a great guy, a former submariner with the U.S. Navy, who had eight children–two of whom became pilots. When he learned I was taking flying lessons, nothing would do but that he give me a copy of a flying simulator program that he had used and enjoyed.

While sightseeing in Chicago we stopped at Meigs Field, and the family good-naturedly let me spend a half-hour watching aircraft take off and land. Meigs went right to the top of my “someday I’ll land here” list. Of course you know it never happened. Meigs was bulldozed, and John died in 2003 at the age of 86. Thank you, John, for sharing my excitement at learning to fly. Thank you, Meigs, for giving me something to shoot for as I practiced crosswind landings.

If you have Meigs memories, please share them in the Comments section.


3 Responses to “Missing Meigs and Cousin John”

  1. Ken I Olsson Says:

    I grew up near Chicago and whenever we’d drive anywhere near The Loop (downtown Chicago) I’d pester Dad to see Meigs Field. Though we rarely went there I always loved the gestalt of Meigs. Once I got my driver’s license I’d occasionally be late for appointments in The Loop because of stopping for awhile to watch flight ops at Meigs. Years after leaving Chicago I became a Private Pilot and, of course, had a Meigs Field (CGX) flight as my uppermost goal. In 1999, while on a trip to visit my father, I took my brother for a birthday flight with a landing at CGX. Four years later, through the machinations of a despot, CGX was gone. I’d been visiting Dad again and I got the news through United’s complimentary headphones as I was climbing out of Ohare Field in the morning, bound for the West Coast and home. I felt a chill that would undoubtedly have pleased Daley had he known. I’ve visited the Chicago area several times since then but as long as Daley’s in charge I avoid the city. A pox on his house. http://www.friendsofmeigs.org/

  2. Rich Dugger Says:

    I had the pleasure of landing at the “Coolest little airport on the lake” one time.
    My friend needed to go to Chicago and get a pass port in a hurry so being a new pilot or student pilot, I forget which, why we just hopped in my C-150 and zoomed right up there.
    Got the job done and got back to NW Indiana.
    What a great experience.
    I was on my way to Sun n Fun and did a RON in Panama City Beach and was watching WGN on the cable box when about 7 of us got the news.
    We went off! Could not believe what that SOB mayor had done.
    Since that day I have not spent a dime in Chicago and never will.

    What a gem among jewels it was. And now it is gone ,most likely forever.

  3. Dima Says:

    My earliest memory of Meigs is from the Microsoft Flight Simulator 3 back in early 90’s. I’ve never been to US back then and Chicago was nothing more than a distant city in a foreign land at the time. I enjoyed flying around the sparse Chicago scenery and between the skyscrapers in a little Cessna while learning basic aerobatic maneuvers in the MSFS, taking off from Rwy 36 over the Adler Planetarium, and it forever left a great impression on me. Little did I know at the time that years later I would end up living in Chicago. So when I took an intro flight lesson out of PWK one day, I’ve insisted that we go down south over the Michigan lake shore, then turn around and land on Rwy 36 at CGX. And we did – and then took off – and all this in the same little Cessna I used to fly in the MSFS! This will forever remain one of the most fascinating flying experiences for me: climbing out of CGX on the N heading, seeing the skyscrapers taller than you are out of the left window, so close you could almost touch them. I’ve been flying over different cities since then, taking people for rides over Hudson River with similar views of Manhattan, but nothing would compare with the thrill of landing on the little island on the Lake Michigan and then taking off again, thrill which is most likely now gone forever.

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