Playing in the Clouds

In Chicago, Meigs Field is located IN the lake near McCormick Place. It's an airport in downtown Chicago. Mayor Daley wants to turn it into another lake front park...so its days are numbered. Greg wanted to get it listed in his log book before it closes next year. So on Friday, June 15th...he planned to fly down to Chicago to pick my boss and I up to go flying.

Mother Nature nearly didn't cooperate and storms rolled in Friday morning. It looked as though we'd have to go another day as the morning filled with clouds and winds. But Greg was watching the weather and felt the day would soon turn beautiful. He was right! By the time he landed at Meig's...the wind had died, the clouds were passing and it was a beautiful day to fly. My boss bowed out cos' the day was getting late. So Greg and I just played around in the clouds for a few hours.

What a great way to end the week!

About 2:30pm...I jump in a cab and head down to the lakefront to Meigs Field.

As we drive down the museum campus drive...there in front is the Adler Planetarium.

There is a web cam locate at the top of the planetarium. So I posted a note to our gang of Microsoft MVP to see if anyone could capture pictures of us at the airfield.

If ANYONE could meet this challenge...it would be an MVP! ;-)

Unfortunately, I wasn't able to get a shot of Greg landing...as I arrived JUST as he did. But I got to watch him taxi to his assigned parking spot.
Talk about service. As soon as he's parked...Signature Flight Service is there to set off and block his plane.
Making sure you're safely tucked away from all the traffic.
They welcome you to the Meigs Field and explain details to the pilot.
Then Greg breaks out his wallet cos' landing at Meigs is no freebee.
So he head into the terminal to sign in at the arrival desk.
As we run out for a smoke...we can see the planetarium at the end of the runway.
Notice the live web cam on top...which allows you to see FANTASTIC live shots of Chicago!

And just about the time we're looking at the camera...John Marshall, Visio MVP, was lookin' back at us and snapping this picture on his computer for us!

(Actually, he says his daughter, Renata, spotted our plane! THANKS, Renata!!)

Yup...that's us in that red square.

See...our little Cessna 172 hangin' with the big boys!
And these big boys are LOUD when they take off!

We take a little time to check out some of the historical displays inside the airport.

This explains how they took a former luxury liner and converted it during WWII to an aircraft carrier so the pilots could practice landing.

Note the conversion pic.
And here is a model display of the Sable.
Of course, Greg is enjoying himself in this environment.
Planes folded on the Sable.
George H. Bush getting HIS training here!
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Not all takeoffs make it.
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And landings could also be difficult!
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View out the front of the terminal from the balcony. That's Soldier Field out there.
Off to the right is the Field Museum low in front with the Sear's Tower in the back.
I didn't realize they have regularly scheduled flights from Meigs...but ONLY to/from Springfield.
If Mayor Daley has his way...next year will be Meigs LAST year.
Nice view. And lots of sailors skipping outta the office today.
Another little Cessna pulls up as we begin to prepare for take off.
And John also got that shot from the web cam while he was home in Ottawa, Canada.

We prepare to take off.

When we're alone on some airfield...it always seems strange when Greg calls "CLEAR" out his window before he starts the engine...

...but I can now see why the habit is important...when you're at an airfield where there's always people running around your plane.

Signature Flight Service sees Greg starting up and comes over to unblock the plan and safely direct him to the runway.

Another flight takes off to the south.
We begin taxiing down to the runway.
Visitors to Chicago may recognize McCormick place.
Lots of nice planes parked out here.
I'll take that one, and that one, and...
We arrive at the end of the taxiway and await permission to turn onto the runway, while we check out the lake view.

Cool! The Windy is out today!

"Windy is Navy Pier's resident 148-foot, four-masted schooner. Several 90-minute cruises, as well as charter and educational trips, are offered each day. The ship pays tribute to the Great Lakes' rich maritime heritage by featuring a design reminiscent of a traditional American schooner."

Yup...a little busy out on the lake now.
And the winds that WERE gusting up to 21 mph...have calmed nicely.

Here we go!

Those of you who has ever flown Microsoft's Flight Sim...will recognize THIS default takeoff view preparing to take off from Meigs field, north.

We begin to pick up speed.
I wonder if anyone is watching us on the web cam right now?

And someone IS!

This picture, again courtesy of John Marshall, was taken at just about the EXACT time when *I* was looking at the cameras in the above shot! HA!

Greg's *peddling* as fast as he can to get down the runway<g>...while one of the bigger planes patiently waits for us to get out of his way.

Relief as I feel us lift off...
...cos' that lake at the end of the runway was getting closer!
Up and over the parking lot and planetarium.
Nice shot, eh?
Off toward the City of Chicago!
Quick look out the back/side and we see the Shedd Aquarium.
And there's the runway we just left.

Coming up to Navy Pier.

Lots of cool stuff there! IMax theatre, shops, restaurants, cool kids stuff, giant ferris wheel and every kind of boat ride you'd want.

Downtown Chicago.

That's the John Hancock Building (tallest in this view) up there. Great restaurant and bar up on the 95th & 96th!

Chicago river.
Navy Pier.
Chicago water reclamation center.
North lake front.
Looking back toward the south.
Hummm...and yes, we're just below O'Hare's airspace.
Off toward Evanston.
Coming up toward Lincoln Park and North Avenue beach (I believe.)
More traffic!
More BIG traffic!

Greg's office, Promissor, in Evanston.

I THOUGHT I was taking some great zoomed shots of his building as we went by. Unfortunately, I had the damn camera on pause!<sigh> Duh!

So this is the best I got. Guess we'll just have to try again!<smirk>

Evanston lighthouse.
Northwestern University.
The Baha'i Temple in Wilmette, IL.
Northwestern stadium.
MORE traffic!
Breakers protecting the shoreline.
Looking north toward Milwaukee, WI.
But we head west.
One for you golfers. I THINK this may be Chevy Chase golf course?!?!?!
These housing areas look so strange from up here!
This looked very strange from up here. We went to investigate and discovered these were tons of clone TENTS on some school sports field????
Lake activity.
Six Flags Great America amusement park in Gurnee, IL.
More goofy looking towns.
Getting away from the city and up near the Wisconsin border.
Cool...we pass over an airfield just as one plane lands and other is taking off.
Wonder if this guy freaked as he's about to take off and our SHADOW passes in front of him???<g>
Cool!
The clouds are right to go up over the clouds today. So Greg starts a climb to nearly 10,000 feet.
Sit back and enjoy the view...
 
 
 

Man...I THOUGHT I knew what flying felt like...but it's almost surreal up here.

So smooth and it feels like we're just floating up here...and NOT moving!

9,400 feet now!
 
It's so nice up here...we head back around to the lake for a bit.
Waukegan airfield?
 
 
 
Well...we're getting closer to landing cos' there is my niece's horse farm.
Under the heading of "you never know what you'll get while filming"...I was zooming in to Sammie & Mike's stables to see if I could make out the horses down there...and didn't notice until shooting stills from the film, that there had been a plane down there!

We ATTEMPT to land on 21 at Westosha (Greg's field)...but we NOW know where those winds from Chicago went. THEY'RE HERE!

We're getting blown all over with a heavy cross wind...so Greg circles around to hit the grass field...so he can land into the wind.

THAT'S where we're headed!
Again...we begin to get bounced around passing over these trees and I start hoping we won't land IN the trees!
But Greg fights it and holds it steady.
And give a sigh of relief as we get away from the wind in the trees.
A nice landing.
Except I don't realize the paved runway is in the middle of the grass strip...so we kick back up a bit as we hump over the asphalt.
Safely back on the ground.

A wonderful Friday afternoon!