Since the first Microsoft Flight Simulator released in 1982, the Meigs Field was the default airport where flight started, until Flight Simulator 2004. Let’s take a quick look at Meigs Field’s history and why it eventually was removed from Flight Simulator.
Merrill C. Meigs Field Airport, ICAO: KCGX, was a single-runway airport alongside Burnham Harbor in Chicago, state of Illinois, United States. The airport was opened in December 1948 and got named after a publisher of the Chicago Herald and Examiner and an aviation advocate. By 1955, it had become the busiest single-runway airport in the United States. Landing and departing aircraft were a familiar sight on the downtown lakefront. The airport was constructed further on by opening an air traffic control tower in 1952 and a new terminal building in 1961.
By 1970, Meigs Field became a critical facility for aeromedical transport of patients and transplant organs to Chicago downtown hospitals. Since the late 1980s, Meigs Field provided scheduled airline service to several destinations in Illinois and Wisconsin by aircraft such as Piper Navajo and de Havilland Canada DHC-6 Twin Otter. There was also a scheduled passenger helicopter service between Meigs Field and Chicago O’Hare and Midway airports.
The runway 18-36 at Meigs Field was nearly 1,189 meters (3,900 feet) long, and there were four helicopter pads at the south end of the runway. Aircraft such as Cessna Citation and Dassault Falcon business jets as well as Beechcraft King Air and Grumman Gulfstream twin-props were a common sight at the airport.
In 1994, the Mayor of Chicago announced plans to close the airport and build a park in its place. After years of trying to close the airport legally, Mayor Richard. M. Daley illegally ordered city crews to destroy the runway by bulldozers on the night of Sunday, March 30, 2003. The required demolition notice was not given for the Federal Aviation Administrator (FAA) or the owners of the aircraft parked at the airport. The stranded 16 aircraft were later allowed to depart using the 3,000 feet long main taxiway.
The place where Meigs Field was is now called Northerly Island, and the area contains a winding bike and pedestrian trails. It’s landscaped with about 400 trees, more than 30 acres of prairie grass, and a 5-acre lagoon.