Not everyone knows that there’s an airport in the city of Chicago. It’s called Meigs Field, and it’s a small little spot, rarely used, and not really much for commercial air traffic, if at all. In fact, most of the time I’ve seen it used has been when the Air and Water Show uses it for the jets.
Yesterday morning I hear on the radio that ‘something’ has happened at Meigs field. In keeping with my luck, either I slept through it or the radio never told me what this thing was. So I went to work, I worked, and I forgot. When I got home, I flicked on the news and there it was.
Mayor Richard Daley turned Meigs into a no-fly zone.
Yes, rolling out what Chicago is now calling ‘Daley’s Shock and Awe Attack,’ our erstwhile mayor sent out construction (or is that deconstruction) workers in the dead of night, protected by the police, to demolish the lakefront airport. And it was all done without warning.
While most Chicagoans have known for years that Daley wanted to turn Meigs into a park, most of us also knew of the verbal deal between Daley and former Governor George Ryan, about keeping the airport open for the next 25 years. Now, Daley says that the deal was contingent on Congress approving the O’Hare expansion that got shot down last year, so he was under no reason to keep Meigs open. Arguably he did this to make us ‘safer’ and to lessen the risk of planes flying right over the city.
Check it out, DisneyLand and DisneyWorld got no-fly zones over their parks really fast, while it’s been taking Daley months to get a partial restriction over downtown. That’s the federal government working for you. Every day I walk from my office to the El, a trek of about a half mile or so. At the midway point, I look to the side and see the Sears Tower. Seeing planes fly over head doesn’t bother me. I’m pretty good at judging distance (here’s a hint: if the plane looks like a tiny ass toy, it’s not gonna hit!) and I know by sound, speed and sense that none of the planes I’ve seen will hit.
That said, I’ve gotten used to the noise and there’s a chance that, sure, a plane could knock down America’s Tallest Building. I’m more worried about the helicopters dancing around trying to check out our protestors. In case you haven’t noticed, we’ve been crashing ‘copters at an alarming rate. At least three a week. Okay, so most of these are in the desert, which is notably bad for ‘copters (thank you, Area 88 and let me pause for a moment of adoration for the SAAB 35 Draken), but still. I think it’s more likely that a helicopter will crash than a plane will be hijacked.
Of course, with the O’Hare expansion little more than a wisp of smoke, I can’t see why you’d want to close another airport. Midway’s getting bigger every day, and while it’s not the airport I use to fly to LA, it’s certainly a hand location for an $85 jaunt to Cleveland for me and Ipstenit. Hell, sometimes it’s $65! That said, I still continue to snigger at the fact that Midway’s an International Airport.
On to the legal aspects!
First, the Park District owns the land that Meigs Field sits on, so they were within their right to tear it down. No problem.
Second, the planes that are stranded there. Um. Okay, and who’s going to pay reparations for that? The tax payer I bet, and that’s something that’ll be dinged heavy and hard.
Third, this whole dead of night thing smacks of a secret, and I can’t say it’s illegal, but it’s damned suspicious.
I have to agree with people who say that Meigs is safer to have than not. We use it to medivac people out of the state when needed, the military uses it for training, and by the way, they have better security than any other small airport I know of.
So Daley, what the fuck are you doing?