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15 de Marzo 2007

Meigs Field - Preserved in Google Earth

Meigs Field in Google EarthMeigs Field was a wonderful little airport near downtown Chicago - beloved to millions of Microsoft Flight Simulator users since it had been the default airport since the program was first released in the early-80s. Most aviators are quite familiar with the scandalous actions by Mayor Daley of Chicago who had long wanted to close this wonderful little airport. Starting in 1995, Mayor Daley had tried to arrange closing the airport so he could put a park in its place. In 2003, when it was apparent he was in for a long legal battle over the rights to close it, he hired a demolition crew to bulldoze the runway in the middle of the night - stranding 16 planes (which were later allowed to depart via the taxiway). The Mayor was breaking the law when he did this, but he managed to get away with only a minor penalty fee, and the city had to repay $1 Million of FAA money it improperly used to demolish the airport.

Fortunately, you can still see the airport in operation inside Google Earth and Google Maps. Not only that, you can see it in Microsoft's Virtual Earth (or Live Local), and in Microsoft's Flight Simulator. I'm hoping Microsoft and Google will continue to show the runway even though it has now been turned into a park. At least we can keep Mayor Daley from the satisfaction of seeing his new park in these popular applications. Ask.com's aerial map unfortunately shows the new park. Read more about Meigs at Wikipedia (which recounts the actions by Daley in more detail). Also, check out the Friends of Meigs Field web site - they are still trying to get the field turned back into an airport.

Enviado por FrankTaylor at 15 de Marzo 2007 a las 01:21 PM

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  • Comentarios

    Aw, I remember Meigs Field quite well from my flight simulator days -- I could probably fly the hop from Meigs to O'Hare in my sleep.

    Although I think that in general GE should strive to be as timely and up-to-date as possible, the sentimental part of me is happy to see the field preserved in this small way.

    Enviado por: Lauren at 15 de Marzo 2007 a las 02:37 PM

    For a blast from the past, check out
    to see the primitive skeleton of the Chicago skyline in the earliest versions of MS Flight Sim. Looking at the beautifully-textured Chicago skyline in Google Earth today is an awesome reminder of how far we've come.

    Enviado por: Lauren at 15 de Marzo 2007 a las 02:46 PM

    You really make this whole Daley "scandal" sound a lot worse than it really was. Many of the reasons for closing the airport was fair, and the only citation handed over to the city concerned a failure to notify the federal agency of the plans within a thirty day time period as required by law (giving them a $33.000 fine).
    And just because an airport has been the default one forever in MS FlightSim doesn't give it the right to stay there forever. Times change!

    Enviado por: Morten at 15 de Marzo 2007 a las 04:33 PM

    Meigs was destroyed in March, 2003. Four years later, and there is not much to report- there is a bike path that circles the perimeter of the peninsula, and in the summer there is a temporary concert venue next to the Adler. This venue was created (also in secrecy) to hush the critics, of whom there are many. That venue could easily sell as many tickets if the same musicians played at the Petrillo Band Shell. The shame of it is that Meigs users spent $500 Million annualy in the City of Chicago. At the mayor's nearly 10% tax rate, Chicago (not the taxpayers) could have used this revenue to pay for the Olympics, move the volleyball games to North Ave Beach, and move the bicycle velodrome to almost anywhere in the City- the Midway from the Worlds Fair comes to mind. But there is a way to let the Mayor have his cake and eat it too... most new airports across the globe are built on landfill, and they are also located close to city hubs. It may be time to focus on a new downtown airport, off the Lake, close to the business community, convenient for Olympian's travel, complete with CFD hi-rise rescue squad, as well as an active Coast Guard station to better protect our great City...we deserve it!

    Enviado por: Josh at 16 de Marzo 2007 a las 01:39 AM

    Although it's unfortunate that Meigs must be missed, being from the Chicago area I can safely suggest that safety itself was a primary concern for its closing. If anyone had ever visited the Adler Planetarium when Meigs was in full operation, they'd probably have wondered as the planes would fly in whether or not any accidents had occured on pedestrians, or whether the noise polution itself was any concern to the parks district.

    Of course there were politics involved, but the reasons that those politics existed were also primarily because those who utilized the field were dominantly wealthy folks, which didn't seem to fit within the greater good of the City's objectives for its citizens and tourists.

    After September 11th, as well, one must realize the idea that security had become a major concern in and around the City of Chicago. Meigs did not appear to fit within the general landscape of safety in this regard, despite a number of opposing views.

    Enviado por: Daniel Denk at 17 de Marzo 2007 a las 01:54 AM

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