Unasked, I feel compelled to write about my flying experience this past Sunday night. I’m not sure if I am apologizing because I am sharing a personal story without you asking for it, or if it’s because you weren’t with me. Over the last 1500 hours, I’ve had many pleasant flights. Like all pilots, most flights cause me to say out loud, “I love flying!” But this night was somehow different.
My flight to BMI was uneventful, but exciting as I was flying down to enjoy dinner with one of my sons who happened to be in town to see a client. Flying is always great, but has special meaning when I can see family….. AND EAT! As an added benefit, I found a new great restaurant.
After dinner, he dropped us off, and after a preflight, we headed north to PWK. The flight was only about 30 minutes, and as we approached Chicago, I descended to stay under the Bravo (O’Hare airspace). With the lights below and the dark sky above, I dimmed the panel, making the plane almost invisible. Combined with a glass like smoothness in the air, it created a visual I couldn’t remember experiencing before. It was as if I was in an easy chair, and I was directing the chair through a magical world. There was no sense of speed, other than the city lights moving by below me. I didn’t want the flight to end, and wished all of my friends (pilot and non-pilot alike) could’ve been with me.
I write and talk to pilots about getting out to the airport to go flying. I’m always amazed how little we fly, considering how much we all love it. I’m hoping reading this will serve as a catalyst for some of you to find your own special aviation moment. Get back in the plane and experience something that so few people will ever know.
And learn from me, invite someone to share it with.
Chicago Executive Airport’s main runway, 16/34, is 150 feet wide and 5,001 feet long. Constrained by Hintz Road to the north and West Palatine Road to the south, it will not grow any longer. But it will soon be safer, when the installation of the engineered material arresting system (EMAS) is completed at the departure end of Runway 34. If you’ve driven Hintz Road lately, you’ve seen the work on the other side of the airport fence.
Runway 16/34 safely serves the aircraft that call Chicago Exec home, but when the weather is bad, or there’s a rare problem with an airplane, safety is enhanced by an overrun area at each end of the runway. The FAA calls them a runway safety area, and it recommends 1,000 feet. In cases where that isn’t possible because the necessary real estate isn’t available, the FAA offers federal Airport Improvement Program grants to fund the installation of EMAS, which quickly and safely stops an airplane in much shorter distances with little or no damage to the airframe.
To date, EMAS is installed at more than 100 runways at 60 airports worldwide. Chicago Exec is one of the rare general aviation airports that not only have EMAS—the system is generally found at airports that serve commercial operations—it will have EMAS at both ends of its main runway. The airport completed the EMAS at the departure end of Runway 16 around this time last year, said Jamie Abbott, airport director. And before this year ends, the bookend system will be complete on the departure end of Runway 34.
As of this week, the contractor has finished the 170-foot wide, 231-foot long foundation that will connect the EMAS blocks to the runway’s threshold. The EMAS at the other end of the runway is of equal width, but it is 243 feet long. In the coming weeks, workers will begin placing the EMAS blocks. From Hintz Road they may look like large, heavy concrete cubes, but the arresting secret of their contribution to safety is hidden within. Continue reading →
The last chance to introduce a young person to aviation through the EAA’s Young Eagles program happens this Saturday, November 7th starting about 9 am. Young Eagles nationwide has already introduced nearly 2 million young people to their first taste of flight.
The Young Eagles rally takes place at Signature Flight Support, 1100 S Milwaukee Ave. thanks to the help of the FBO’s Duty Manager Pam Kavanaugh.
If you’re planning to bring your children out for a flight, please call the Young Eagles PWK hot line first (847-484-7142) as soon a possible and follow the prompts. Young Eagles flights begin at 10:00 and continue until the last child lands.
Pilots should arrive by 9:00 and be prepared to use runways 12/30 and 6/24, since runway 16/34 will not be available. Young Eagles aircraft will still use Signature Flight Support’s ramp.
Remember that you can call the Young Eagles hotline (847-484-7142) Friday, November 6th after 6:30 PM, if the weather for Saturday seems threatening. On Saturday morning, weather-related messages will go up by 7:30 M.
The results are in and Neal Kesler and his Cessna 182 have taken home the gold … well, so to speak.
Don’t take it too personally if your photo didn’t make the cut for the airport newsletter here. We never seem to tire of seeing new photos of airport people and their machines, so send us yours. All that we ask is that it is your original photo and was shot somewhere at PWK. Of course there’s no prize, just a great photo published for all to see.
E-mail it to Rob Mark at the airport communications office … firstname.lastname@example.org. Who knows, maybe we’ll be looking at yours in a few weeks too.