Where have all the airports gone? (oh no! not another rant!)

I went down to Richmond, Kentucky to have lunch with Tori the other day, but I didn’t fly, I drove!  I know! It’s terrible! I mean I love driving as much as the next guy but this is just getting ridiculous. Seriously how much is it to ask for an airport that isn’t 20 minutes away from Eastern Kentucky University.  The place has a flight school for crying out loud!  So here is the deal.  For me to fly and get my hundred dollar burger in Richmond it would take me 15 minutes to get to bluegrass airport, 15 minutes to “wheels up” (I don’t have a retractable gear; they are too clunky and would throw off the CG, which most certainly would mess with my aerobatic ability), 30 minutes to the ever so gentle touch-down at the Richmond/Madison Airport, and then 20 minutes drive to the University for a grand total of 80 minutes!  In comparison it takes me just thirty minutes to drive from my apartment to EKU.  No pilot should ever have to bear the truth that driving to lunch is faster than flying! But I do every single day. And what a heavy burden it is. The truth is, the number of airports are declining, and several ones that were once busy hubs are nothing but weedy tarmac and forgotten memories like the place where my stinson resided for the first time in 1941, owned by John H. Batton at John H. Batton airport in Racine, WI.

IMG_2731
Stinson sitting on the depressingly empty tarmac where it first lived.

Just 12 years ago Meigs Field (some might know it as the default runway in early Microsoft flight simulators) was destroyed under cover of darkness by Chicago demolition crews with orders from the mayor in order to make a park.

despicable

This picture makes me sick to look at.  What makes me sicker is that some people didn’t care that it was destroyed.  While most airport death stories are not as dramatic as what happened in Chicago, they are no less sad.  We can blame it on the recession, blame it on the FAA, or blame it on people like ex-mayor-for-life Daley, but ultimately we have only ourselves to blame for not seeing it coming.

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