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Mon, Aug 04, 2003

Friends of Meigs Condemn Daley's Remarks, 'Shows His Indifference To Air Safety'

Comments On Emergency Landings "Out Of Line"

The Friends of Meigs Field have condemned the remarks made by Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley pertaining to an emergency landing made at Meigs Field just before the start of AirVenture. According to news accounts, Mayor Daley is reported to have blamed pilots for two recent emergency landings at the closed Meigs Field, and implied that the second pilot was purposely trying to embarrass Mayor Daley for closing Meigs.

'The Mayor's comments demonstrate a gross ignorance of general aviation and are completely out of line," said Steve Whitney, Chairman of the Friends of Maigs Field. "To somehow blame those whose lives have been saved by Meigs Field as being an embarrassment to Mayor Daley is shocking."

"It is frightening to think that this level of ignorance and indifference to public safety characterizes the man who dictates aviation policy in Chicago," he added.

On Course: Chicago is Directly on Route to Oshkosh

Mayor Daley was quoted as saying "if he's going to Oshkosh, that man is going in the wrong direction," implying that the emergency landing by Richard Randall last week at the closed Meigs Field was some kind of set-up. Randall's home is in Standish, Maine. His route of flight to the EAA's convention in Oshkosh, WI, was like thousands of other pilots from out East--right along Chicago's shoreline. Single-engine pilots usually fly near to Lake Michigan's shore in case of mechanical difficulty, concentrating a great deal of traffic along Chicago's lakefront -- Randall's very situation proved the wisdom of this practice.

It is very common for pilots to fly the 'Lakeshore VFR (visual flight rules) Flyway" between Wisconsin and points east. For a visual representation of the flyway, the Friends of Meigs have posted an excerpt from the Chicago Terminal Area Chart on their website: www.friendsofmeigs.org

It is this flyway that the Friends of Meigs have consistently pointed out makes closing Meigs a bad idea. Not only is the Meigs runway available in case of emergency, but the Meigs Field tower provides guidance and separation for traffic flying along the lake and over downtown. Without that tower, aircraft are at greater risk of collision.

But... They Still Made it to Oshkosh

According to media reports, Richard Randall and his passenger Dick Green, safely arrived in Oshkosh on opening day.

They reported that they were not aware that Meigs had been closed until they made a low pass over the runway and discovered the damage done on March 37. The airport is still shown to be open on charts-a result of the City's "illegal secret closing of the airport without giving proper notice to the FAA."

With an alternator failure, a loss of radio communications. increasing rain and falling visibilities, "Randall made the prudent choice." He made another circuit, and landed on the grass adjacent to runway.

The men reported that the Chicago police who greeted them at the airport were "helpful," but Park District officials-including a lawyer who threatened to charge them with trespassing-were "arrogant." After signing releases from the City of Chicago, the pair ferried the aircraft out under a ferry permit from the FAA, repaired a loose connection with the alternator, and resumed their journey to Oshkosh.

FMI: www.friendsofmeigs.org

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