Emergency Landing Bolsters Meigs Effort

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The last-ditch, final-straw, by-a-thread effort to save Meigs Field may have found an unlikely poster boy in the form of a 63-year-old banner tower from Maine. Richard Randell put his 58-year-old Piper Super Cruiser onto the grass beside the torn-up runway at Meigs after an electrical failure Monday Randell was on his way to EAA AirVenture and was expected to arrive Tuesday after his airplane was fixed. EAA spokesman Dick Knapinski said there was a tentative plan to park the Super Cruiser (subject to Randell's permission) beside the Friends of Meigs' campaign tent just off AeroShell Square. Randell was flying over the Chicago waterfront with friend Dick Green when the problem occurred. Witnesses told the Chicago Tribune the sputtering Super Cruiser barely cleared one of the abandoned buildings at the now-closed airport before setting down on the grass. That's apparently not much of a problem for Randell because his hometown field is turf. Friends of Meigs (FOM) spokesman Steve Whitney said the emergency landing was the second in two weeks. A helicopter also used the closed airport after running into trouble. He said it shows the airport's value and the Meigs troops manning the tent in Oshkosh hope it adds fuel to their fire. Meanwhile, the FOM has taken a different tack in its effort to save the airfield. President Rachel Goodstein said the group is calling for an environmental review before the area is turned into parkland. "These are legitimate concerns," she said, while helping fellow volunteers distribute petition cards and information at AirVenture.