Friends Of Meigs: "The Door's Open A Crack"

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Supporters are hopeful that a volatile election year, a down economy and the departure of the mayor who destroyed Meigs Field means their beloved airport may come back to Chicago, but could they possibly be right? Short answer: not likely. But. One candidate for mayor, State Senator Rickey Hendon, said Wednesday that, if elected, he would reopen Meigs Field on his first day in office. And that suggests Meigs may become a topic in the broader race. AVweb Thursday spoke with Steve Whitney, president of Friends of Meigs Field and active public supporter of the now-former airport since the mid-90s. That conversation was not all sunshine and roses for Meigs. But it showed that Hendon's comments weren't the only reason supporters might have to hope. And, for better or worse, they may now have more reason to believe than they've had in years.

BACK STORY: Seven years ago, Chicago Mayor Richard Daley had the runway at Chicago's Meigs Field destroyed without warning in the dead of night. Now, after serving as Mayor of Chicago since 1989, Daley says he'll not seek re-election at the end of his term. Whitney says Daley's departure and notorious actions at Meigs, plus Chicago's struggling economy (and President Obama's infrastructure plans), could turn Meigs into a political football in the next mayoral race. Hendon's comments support that case. As for Meigs, the case can be made that rebuilding Meigs could create near-term jobs in its construction and long-term support for local businesses. But using the ghost of the airport for political advantage during a campaign is different from tearing up a lakefront public park to reinstall an airport. For many, Meigs is a sort of Alamo for general aviation. And even if you never flew into Meigs, or don't care much about it, you may still benefit from what Whitney has to say.

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