January 8, 2006

Twenty-Fifth Airport Vistited

schaumburg.jpgOn Saturday I took my first step towards my goal of spending more time behind the yoke than I did in 2004. As part of my goal, I decided I need to find an airport and FBO that I will fly from on a regular basis. After having flown at Midway and Palwaukee, two nearby towered fields, I decided to check out Northwest Aviation based at Schaumburg Regional.

Northwest Aviation has a wide variety of planes in their fleet ranging from the newer Diamond products to the more traditional Pipers and Cessnas. I scheduled time in a Cessna 172. Schaumburg is a busy single-strip airport just miles from Chicago's O'Hare Airport. I was originally worried about how the weather would be for the flight since Chicago had not seen the sun in 2006. I was pleasantly surprised to see the sun and blue sky when I went outside early Saturday morning. Unfortunately, by early afternoon when I had scheduled my flight the clouds had returned and the ceiling was little more than 3,000 feet.

We departed on runway 29 and departed to the west. Due to Schaumburg's proximity to O'Hare almost all departures head west initially to get out from under the first shelf of the O'Hare airspace which limits you to flying below 1,900 feet. Once clear of the airspace restriction I climbed up to about 2,500 and realized I could not go much higher due to the cloud cover above. Since there was no sign the weather would improve and the chance that it could get worse was good, we turned back towards the airport. But we decided to do a few landings at Dupage Airport first. The Dupage Automatic Terminal Information Service (ATIS) weather was stating winds that were coming straight down runway 20. On short final it was obvious the winds had changed to be a steady crosswind. I made two less than perfect crosswind landings at Dupage before we decided to return to Schaumburg.

The flight from Schaumburg including the landings at Dupage represented the 24th and 25th unique airports I have visited and have updated my google map of airports I have visited. I look forward to scheduling some cross country flights in the not to distant future where I can continue to add some new airports to the tally. It was fun to get back out to the airport and get a flight in. Unfortunately, I did not get to enjoy a meal at Schaumburg's Pilot Pete's which is supposedly one of the best airport restaurants in the area.

After the flight I am not sure that I am any closer to selecting an airport or FBO. I enjoyed my experience with both Northwest Aviation and the Schaumburg airport but it is a bit of a hike for me to get to from downtown Chicago. I think I will select from the three airports and FBOs I have flown from thus far: Midway, Palwaukee and Schaumburg. But before I make a decision and commit to a flying club and FBO I may need to make a few more flights and weigh out the pros and cons of each based on convenience, costs, types of airports, planes available, atmosphere, etc. I will keep you posted.

Posted by at January 8, 2006 1:12 PM

I'm looking forward to reading about your next 25 airports visited!!

Posted by: CJ at January 13, 2006 5:40 PM

I live downtown (Chicago) and got my VFR ticket 6 years ago. At the time, I wanted to learn to fly as close to home as possible. Meigs was the closest airport. Daley did not allow Meigs users to rent hangar space, or sign a lease on the pad for more than one day (no monthly rentals). The one flight club that was based there did not have the fleet size and quality that I was interested in, so I went to the next closest airport, KMDW. I stayed there thru my private and for about 2 years after that. It was a great place to learn how to fly, especially for radio skills (but no pattern work allowed). It was always fun to land on 31L while a 737 or 757 was coming down or departing 31C. Anyway, the city took over alot of the space that was reserved for GA parking, planes had to be moved elsewhere and businesses suffered. When the fleet of my club lessened in quanity and quality, I decided it was time for a move.

A very close family friend (who introduced me to his C-210 25 years ago) was keeping his plane @ Palwaukee even though he lives downtown. He recommended that I check out the flight club that he uses for currency and training, and I am very glad that I did. I have been a member of Windy City Flyers for 3 years, and will be for many more. Windy City has the largest fleet in Chicago (23 planes, i think) with everything from C-172SP, Cirrus, Diamond Star, all the way up to a pressurized twin. They maintain their fleet with excellence, and have very tight operating procedures for rental pilots and CFI's.

The members section of the WCF website has checklists, weight and balances, currency info, aircraft and CFI schedules, etc.

Flying out of PWK is a great experience in itself.

The airport owners (Prospect Heights & Wheeling) regularly re-invest in the infrastructure, including a new taxiway and new, wider runway 30 since I've been there. The guys and gals in the tower are some of the best i've come across. They handle pilots in heavy metal (G-550, Citation 10, etc) and student pilots in trainers.

There are 6 runways, and one ILS at PWK.

I highly recommend Palwaukee, and especially Windy City Flyers (www.windycityflyers.com)

Feel free to email me with questions.


p.s. great site (yours!)

Posted by: Josh L at February 18, 2006 10:46 PM

Bravo to you for following your dreams

Posted by: Heather at February 28, 2006 7:23 AM