Tag Archives: PWK

60 Years at PWK and Still Going Strong

Do You Know Lou Wipotnik?

There aren’t too many things around PWK that date back to 1957. The old timers still call it Pal-Waukee Airport and will probably never stop.

The airport’s original control tower built above hangar 4 in the 60s was torn down years ago and replaced by a more modern structure where controllers keep an eye on things from high above, just east of Signature Flight Support’s ramp. In the 50s, the only way for an airplane on the ground to reach Runway 16 for a south takeoff was to wait for a gap in traffic and scoot the opposite way up the runway for a quick turnaround. Back in the late 50s and early 1960s, student pilots were often seen practicing their landings and takeoffs on Runways 24 Left and 30 Left, surfaces turned into taxiways decades ago. In the airport’s busiest days of the late 1960s and early 1970s, takeoffs and landings often hovered between 200,000-225,000 each year. In 2016, airport traffic totaled about 79,000.

If you’ve been hanging around the airport for any length of time however, there’s one fellow you might have seen or perhaps even met … Lou Wipotnik. He first came to PWK in May of 1957 when he learned to fly at Sally’s Flying School on the east side of the airport. Don’t look for Sally’s though either … the place has been closed at least 30 years.

Lou earned his Flight Instructor rating in 1968 and has been teaching in airplanes & helicopters ever since, having worked at most of the schools on the airport at one time or another. He currently instructs with Fly There and Leading Edge Flying Club at hangar five on the west side of the field and flies as an independent instructor with aircraft owner pilots at PWK.

Lou was named the FAA’s U.S. Flight Instructor of the Year in 1996, as well as having reached the Master Flight Instructor Emeritus status in 2016. He certainly hasn’t been slowing down any, even after 60 years at PWK either. Lou was inducted into the Illinois Aviation Hall of Fame in May of last year.

A longtime member of the Chicago Airport Pilots Association, Lou served two terms as club President between 2001-2004 and has been active with the Civil Air Patrol for 32 years. Lou still teaches a variety of aviation safety seminars in the Chicagoland area as a FAASTeam Representative for the FAA FSDO #3.

“Lou is a go to guy for aviation education. He always replies in the affirmative if you need a speaker and has donated his time and effort over and over and over again. I remember especially his aviation club from before 1986 with regular tests to keep the pilots sharp and his great IFR presentations at the 99s Safety Seminar. So glad he’s shared his expertise with so many for so long and so well.  Congrats LOU on the first half of your career 😋.”

Madeleine Monaco, President, Chicago Executive Pilots Association

Chicago Executive Airport’s EMAS System Earns Top Award

Chicago Executive Airport’s Safety System Earns Top Award

Some of you might recall an incident in January of last year when during an early morning arrival, a Falcon 20 cargo jet crew realized after touchdown on Runway 16 that they wouldn’t be able to halt their aircraft before the end of the runway. Landing to the south, Palatine Road runs east to west just off the airport’s property. Luckily for all involved, the airport had recently installed an Engineered Material Arresting System at both ends of the long runway. Landing to the south that morning, the Falcon ran into the EMAS system that safely stopped the airplane in just a few seconds with very little damage to the aircraft and zero injuries to anyone. That EMAS was installed because there was not enough flat surface available at either end of the runway to serve as the normal runway safety area demanded by the FAA.

That EMAS project, let by the airport’s engineering firm Crawford, Murphy & Tilly was recently honored with a Merit Award at ACEC Illinois’ annual Engineering Excellence Award banquet earlier this month.

The Chicago Executive Airport Runway Safety Area Improvement project demonstrated how engineering ingenuity can help an airport continue to thrive despite a tightly-constrained environment. Due to those space restrictions, CMT proposed, designed, and championed for both approval and funding for the EMAS that saved the day in January 2016. EMAS allowed the airport to improve the runway safety area without the need to use any additional real estate and without sacrificing the level of operations at the state’s third busiest airport.

CMT vice president Brian Welker said, “It’s certainly an honor for CMT, but I’m especially grateful that Chicago Executive Airport is being recognized for all the work they’ve done. They’ve been committed to improving their facility for many years now. PWK is an invaluable asset, both to the people and businesses who use the airport, and to the overall economy of the region.”

Nice job folks.

Life Inside Fence

Life Inside the Fence

Despite the tall steel security fences that seem ready to halt people from any angle they might approach the airport, we actually organize quite a few events, many of which you don’t need to be a pilot to attend.

Take a look at what’s coming up, as well as a few of the happenings you might have missed and you may quickly realize that there are quite a few good things taking place just down the road.Flyer- Top Picture

4th of July Weekend

One of our biggest upcoming events is the annual 5K Rock-n-Run the Runway set to begin in the early morning hours of July 3 that allows runners to see the airport from an incredible perspective, while they run of course. Pre-registration is encouraged. Later that day, the airport gates on the east side of the airport will reopen at 5 pm to begin a night of food, music, fun and fireworks, all at no cost to visitors.

Airport Tours

IMG_0203During the past few months, we’ve conducted nearly a dozen tours of the airport for scouting organizations and other civic groups. These usually take about an hour and include a local guide who is ready to explain the intricacies of daily life at Chicago Executive, as well as offer visitors a chance to see a variety of aircraft up close. If your group of eight or less would like to arrange a future tour, call the main airport number 847-537-2580, ext. 117.

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Young Eagles Offers Free Flights to Kids Between 8-17

Most of us who work on the airport remember our first encounter with an airplane, probably when we were just kids. The EAA, the people who throw the big airshow in Oshkosh every year, (begins July 25th) organized the Young Eagles as a way to offer kids their first ride in an airplane. Best of all, it doesn’t cost the kids or their parents a penny to take part. Both the airplanes and the pilots who fly them, are donated by a flock of local aviators dedicated to the Young Eagles movement at PWK.Young Eagles

The next Young Eagles Rally happens later this month on Saturday morning, June 25th at Signature Flight Support on the east side of the airport near the control tower. In order to make sure there is a seat for everyone who wants one, preregistration is encouraged by calling 847-484-7142. Leave a message on the voicemail and a volunteer will call back to schedule the flight. But don’t throw away that phone number. Once you’re child is registered, you’ll want to call that number after 7:30 am on the 25th to be sure weather won’t get in the way of the flight.

 

Stearman Bi-Plane Gives Vets a View From Above

The good folks at Signature Flight Support opened their doors last week to a number of veterans of the Korean Conflict and WWII. Thanks to the Ageless Aviation Dreams Foundation, they were all able to see the north shore from the front seat of a 1930’s era Stearman.

Here’s how WGN-TV covered the event, as well as Flying magazine. IMG_0937

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Nissan Night

We were pleased to be able to help the Chicagoland Nissan dealers a few weeks ago when they wanted to introduce their newest hot car to dozens of Nissan fans. The event unveiled the 2017 Nissan GTR, 545 hp hooked up to an all-wheel drive chassis. We just happened to have an empty hangar on the west side of the airport that fit the event perfectly. And just to make sure visitors didn’t forget where they were, One Aviation’s Ken Ross brought his airplane into the hangar to accent the evening.
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Pilot’s Association Breakfast

Pancake breakfasts have long been an aviation tradition. This past weekend, the Chicago Executive Pilots Association held their annual event on the northeast corner of the airport. Nearly 60 people attended and spent the morning wolfing down an endless supply of flapjacks and eggs, while they also marveled at a few of the local airplanes on display. Members of the airport board stopped by and spent a few hours having breakfast and learning all they could about the men and women who park their airplanes with us. Quite a few non-pilots who stopped in to enjoy the event as well.

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EMAS: Good as New

EMAS Falcon

The early morning hours of January 26, 2016

Airports are labor intensive businesses. Every time you turn around, there always seems to something that needs attention.

A runway check each morning is easy enough to point out a broken runway light or two, or patch a piece of crumbling taxiway pavement. Sometimes though, the work’s a bit more involved, like when an airplane ends up somewhere we hope it wouldn’t, like a few months ago when a Falcon 20 landing on runway 16 ran through the engineered materials arresting system (EMAS) at the south end of the airport. The crushable blocks of this new-age runway safety system, did their job and halted the airplane with minimum damage to the airplane and zero damage to the pilots.

The EMAS engagement did leave a pretty glaring hole in the block structure though, something the airport fixed last week with the help of Boland Construction out of New York, a company experienced at EMAS repairs. The work was planned for eight nights of runway closures from 10 pm until 6 am the next morning. But time is money and airports and the businesses that depend upon us don’t make much when the main runway is shut down. The basic plan was to complete as much work each night safely and hope to maybe shave a night off the calendar which would mean less disruption for users.

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Today, the end of the runway’s all spic and span. Photo courtesy Lee Hogan

On Monday evening, the first barricades went up to protect workers and warn pilots again the runway should not be used. Boland’s nine employees removed a number of extra EMAS blocks that looked questionable on second inspection and used torches to loosen the adhesive that originally held the blocks in place. Time to call it a night.

Tuesday’s efforts were rained out, but everyone was back on Wednesday at 10 pm when the new blocks were put in place. By Thursday night, there wasn’t much to do except caulk the blocks – just like your bathroom tile – and add the new yellow striping. By Friday morning, it was time to coordinate with the control tower to keep aircraft away and allow everything time to cure. By Saturday morning, the long runway was open for business.

In the end, the teams managed to shave three full nights of work from the project which translated into increased runway availability for airport tenants and transient operators and it was back to business as usual.

Along with the runway, the 16 instrument landing system (ILS) was also brought back to life without the need for another flight check. Thanks for your patience everyone.

 

A Blog Means Airport News

blogWelcome to Chicago Executive Airport’s new blog.

For people new to this sort of communication, a blog is a local online newspaper of sorts. This one just happens to be for and about Chicago Executive airport, also known as PWK to pilots. Over the coming months, we’ll publish stories that explain why the airport exists and what owning it means for the communities of Wheeling and Prospect Heights that jointly own the place.

Our goals here, in alphabetical order, are to educate, entertain, and inform you about all aspects of the airport and the communities it serves. One measure of our success will be your level of surprise, as in, “Gee, I didn’t know that!” The most interesting part of a blog is that it’s a two-way street. If you like what you see here, you’ll be able to comment. And if you don’t like what you see or read, you can still comment … as long as your language doesn’t become offensive of course.

Introducing members of Chicago Exec’s extended family to each other is one of our driving forces with this venture because it fosters an appreciation of the people who contribute to the success of the airport, whether they work on the airport or live and work in the local community.PWK Race 2015

We believe that no endeavor is insignificant. Cutting the grass may seem like nothing more than a seasonal task; but how many people even appreciate what contribution the height of the grass plays in the airport’s wildlife management plan? Or what about the training required to drive in the airport’s operations area? What kinds of people work in the control tower and what exactly do they do there? What about the local firefighters and police who work the airport? Certainly you must have questions about what happens on the airport, so e-mail them to us and we’ll do our best to answer.

While we all work hard at PWK, we also believe in having a little fun along the way, like our 5K Run the Runway race last week, or that same evening’s community entertainment topped off with our first ever fireworks show.

We’ve made it easy for you to follow what happens at the airport too. In the gray column way over to the right of this story, you’ll see our subscribe icon. Just type in your e-mail and we’ll add you to our mailing list. Then every few weeks when we post a new story, you’ll be able to read them, as well as comments if you choose. You can also follow us on Facebook at: pwkairport and on Twitter @pwkchiexec

You can always reach me at rmark@chiexec.com

Thanks for reading. 

Rob Mark, Airport Communications