My Archives: June 2003

Saturday, June 28, 2003

Mayor Daley ordered the clandestein destruction of Meigs Field this spring. He told reporters that he was obligated to destroy the runway to protect Chicagoans their property and their guests. We all agree that protecting citizens and their property is very important. No one can disagree that protecting Chicago's tourists and business guests is paramount; they bring billions and billions of dollars to us every year. The mayor was so serious about protecting us that he ordered 6 foot deep trenches dug completely through the Meigs runway in numerous places. The FAA only requires that "X"'s be painted on the ends of the runways to officially and completely close an airport. The mayor was so seriously dedicated to 'killing' Meigs that he ordered it destruction for the midnight hour; and he ordered vehicals with spotlights to arrive first to 'blind' the 2 webcams that look over the field. Once assured that no one would see the operation starting and get a judge to delay things until all interested parties had their say the bulldozers could work till dawn without interfereance. For the safety of Chicagoans and their guests.

Well the truth is not as comfortable. Now planes fly up and down the lakefront and over the land and building with out interferance. Before, any pilot wanting to operate within five miles of Meigs was REQUIRED to ask for and wait to get permission to operate in that five mile circle. The FAA controllers in the Control Tower at Miegs were required by the FAA to contact and control every plane in it's airspace; they were REQUIRED to order pilots to perform any appropriate maneuver to conform to their order to avoid other aircraft and other unsafe conditions. A perfect example is how the Meigs controllers would direct the many commercial "Banner Towing" advertising small planes. Banner towing in small Cessnas and Pipers is much much more dangerous than ordinary private aviation. The banner towing aircraft need to fly very low and slow to effectively advertise for their customers. But 'low and sl;ow' are the danger twins to aircraft. Expirenced pilots like to say the most useless things to a pilot are "Altitude Above You, Airspeed You HAD, and Runway Behind You. Well the advertising aircraft give these things ON PURPOSE, for their customers. They try to get as close to their target audiences as possible. They want to be as low and close to Wrigly Field, Comiscular Park, and the Lake Michigan beaches and attractions as possible. Before one quite often heard Meigs Air Traffic controllers tell banner tower pilot things like "There is one banner tower at White Sox, please hold over the lake until he safely departs, then I will clear you to White Sox." or "Banner tower over Navy Pier, I have a banner tower departing Cubs in route Oak Street Beach, please go one mile further east over the lake until I tell you he is clear of your area." Another valuable safety action performed by the Meigs Air Traffic Controllers was to warn ordinary small plane traffic about the banner towers and how they might avoid each other. Very few regular General Aviation pilots are used to the number of Banner towers that can be 'working the Lakefront' and the way they will flit between attractions. So the Meigs controllers would always advise transitioning aircraft as to where the Banner towers were, and vice versa.

But now all that has changed; there is no one that can help the Banner towing pilots stay safely away from danger, no one to tell transitioning tourist airplanes about the Banner towers that flit between crowds, and there is no one looking at radar who can radio any of these pilots when they see them getting dangerously close to each other. So, lets see; more aircraft, doing more dangerous things, no one watching them, no one that they must listen to, and no one with authority to order them to do anything to avoid accidents. Hmmmm, does that sound safer to you?

And there is an interesting new development. Helicopters are now towing hugh new record breaking sized banners into Chicagos most densely populated areas like the lakefront, piers and ball parks. They go lower, slower and have many more axises of movement. Everyone knows that a Piper or Cessna flying is constrained to a fairly small range of motions while operating, but helicopters, by desigh, are capable of many more normal range of motions. Hollywood loves helicopters because of their spectacular repetoir of maneauver. Helicopters have a higher accident rate and they fly on Jet Fuel, a hotter burning and more powerful fuel that most fixed wing banner towing craft burn. And since the mayor first brought it up: if terrorists come to 'shoot down' these small craft flying over the crowded tourist venues of Chicago, the helicopters are easier targets because they are both lower AND slower.

Posted by PeterB @ 09:01 PM CDT [Link] [Karma: 0 (+/-)] [No Comments]

Tuesday, June 3, 2003