Saturday, March 30, 2013

OK, besides Easter, what is Sunday, March 31?

Photo obtained from this site.

Sunday, March 31 will be the 10th anniversary of the destruction of Meigs Field, once Chicago's lakefront airport.

In fact, Meigs Field was Chicago's airport on March 30, 2003. Flights were scheduled in and out the following day -- 16 private planes, in fact, were stranded -- when bulldozers, acting on the orders of Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley, carved giant 'X's in the concrete runway in the wee small hours of the night of March 30 or morning of March 31. It was no secret that Daley wanted Meigs closed (he shuttered it briefly in 1996-97), but as Wikipedia explains, "In 2001, a compromise was reached between Chicago, the State of Illinois, and others to keep the airport open for the next twenty-five years. However, the federal legislation component of the deal" -- involving the still ongoing expansion of O'Hare Airport -- "did not pass the United States Senate," allowing Daley to claim that there was no longer a deal. Daley didn't even tell the FAA before sending in the bulldozers; the City was eventually required to pay a nominal fine as a result.

Mayor Daley claimed that destroying Meigs would make the City safer -- no crazy person in a small plane could take off from Meigs -- now Northerly Island, a park and concert venue -- and visit destruction on our fair city.

Except, of course, as the linked Wikipedia article makes clear, "closing the airport made the airspace less restrictive. When the airport was open, downtown Chicago was within Meigs Field's Class D airspace, requiring two-way radio communication with the tower. The buildings in downtown Chicago are now in Class E/G airspace, which allows any airplane to legally fly as close as 1,000 feet (300 m) from these buildings with no radio communication at all" (footnotes omitted).

Several of the Usual Suspects want to designate Sunday as Bunsen Burner Day, commemorating the birth of German chemist Robert Wilhelm Eberhard von Bunsen on March 31, 1811. Wikipedia, however, says Bunsen was born on March 30, 1811, and although Bunsen himself celebrated March 31 as his natal day in later years, Bunsen's biographer was pretty certain that March 30 was really the correct day.

March 31 is also National "She's Funny That Way" Day, which sounds like something you'd better say with a smile on your face, mister.

The Eiffel Tower opened on March 31, 1889, leading some of the usual suspects to designate Sunday as Eiffel Tower Day.

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