Chicago’s Midway Airport History

Chicago Midway Airport

Chicago’s Midway Airport History

This website is designed to be a resource for readers of the book, or anyone interested in Chicago aviation.

Chicago’s Midway Airport

Midway Airport

Chicago Midway Airport


Fred Farbin No one knew more about Midway than Fred Farbin, who worked at the airport for over 40 years.

Philip Felper With a career as a pilot from the 1930’s to the 1980’s, there are not too many pilots with as many hours in the air as Phil Felper. His stories of the early days of commerical aviation are an entertaining take of Midway’s history.

Tom Goldthorpe Click to see Goldthorpe’s amazing drawings of aircraft and people.

Sheila O’Carroll Lynch When most children played in sandlots, as the daughter of a pilot, Sheila made Midway airport her playground.

Christopher Lynch The grandson of the founder of Monarch Air Service, Lynch is the author of Midway Airport: The First Seventy-Five Years.

Pierce “Scotty” O’Carroll An immigrant from Ireland, O’Carroll would start Monarch Air Service, one of the oldest Fixed Based operators (FBO) in the U.S.

James O’Hara As a frequent visitor to the airport, James recalls his first flight in a Staggar Wing Beech in the 1940’s.

Mike Rotunno This legendary photographer snapped pictures of celebrites at Midway Airport for 50 years.

Bob Soraparu Some people collect baseball cards-Bob Soraparu collects Midway memorobilia.

David M. Young A former transportation editor for the Chicago Tribune, Young has written extensively about Chicago Aviation


A list of some of the famous aviators who were frequent visitors to Midway Airport:
James H. Doolittle The legendary air racer and WWII hero often flew into Midway Airport.
Charles A. Lindbergh “Lucky Lindy” flew the mail for Robertson Aircraft from St. Louis to Chicago before flying the Atlantic and becoming “The Lone Eagle”. Lindbergh landed at Chicago Municipal Airport in the Spirit of St. Louis in 1927, on his victory tour of the U.S.
Roscoe Turner This legendary Air Racer, who flew with his own pet lion, was a frequent visit to Midway.

Crossroads of the World

From the late 1940’s through the 1950’s, Midway airport was called the Crossroads of the World, and the focus of this activity was the terminal at 5700 S. Cicero Avenue. The following stories are from that exciting period in the airport’s history:
Tower of Memories During the post-war years, Midway’s control tower became a symbol of the airport’s success.
The Cloudroom Marshall Field’s Cloud Room restaurant brought elegance to airport dining.
Chasing Eva The Blue and Gold Cafe in Midway’s terminal, was a sanctuary for Frank Sinatra inbetween flights between the Coasts.
The Flood of ’57 Read about when Midway Airport became a lake, stranding thousands of passengers.
Sights and Sounds One observer writes about a visit to Midway’s terminal in 1959.

Tragedy and Triumphs

Smell of Success An airmail pilot finds Chicago Municipal Airport using his nose.
Flying Through History The Story of the a Stinson Tri-Motor that once flew at Midway
December 8, 1972 The Crash of United Airlines Flight 533
FDR and GWB Two presidential actions that helped the Aviation Industry

Chicago Aviation History

Major Events in Chicago Aviation Prior to Chicago Municipal’s Founding in 1926
The Chicago International Aviation Meet of 1911 This airshow, held in Grant Park, was a huge event that introduced much of the Midwest to aviation.
Cicero Field An important center of flying in the Chicago area before World War I, Cicero Flying Field was a field frequented by flyers like Lincoln Beachey and Katherine Stinson.
The 1911 Wingfoot Blimp Disaster When a blimp caught fire and plummeted to the city streets at Jackson and LaSalle, it became the worst aviation disaster of the time.

The Innovators

A list of dreamers, aviators and benefactors who helped shape and influence aviation in the Chicago area:
Octave Chanute Author of the 1894 book Progress in Flying Machines this French engineer and Chicago resident’s aeronautical experiments would influence the Wright Brothers.
Steponas Darius and Stasys Gir─Śnas These Lithuanian flyers from Chicago flew the Atlantic, and into legend on their ill-fated flight. Click here to read about their courage and heroism.
Charles Dickenson “Pop” Dickenson, a president of the Aeroclub of Illinois, was the father of Chicago Aviation.
Emil “Matty” Laird Laird, a pioneering airplane designer built many of his aircraft in Chicago
Edward “Butch” O’Hare A short biography of this naval war hero whose heroism was honored by renaming Orchard Field in 1949 to O’Hare International Airport.
Katherine Stinson The Fourth woman to learn how to fly, Stinson learned how to fly at Cicero Field in 1915.

Official Chicago Aviation Sites

Chicago Department of Aviation Timely information of the City of Chicago’s Airport System.
National Air Traffic Controllers Site Track a flight to or from Midway Airport.
Chicago Centennial of Flight Celebrating the Chicago connections to a century of Flight.
Midway Airport Resource
City of Chicago’s Midway Airport site The official City of Chicago, Dept. of Aviation website for Midway Airport.
A Short History of Midway This history is found on the National Air Traffic Controller’s website.
Midway Community Noise Resource Center Nice graphics of the Runway configerations,and analysis of blastwalls as part of the Fly Quiet Program.
Midway Airport Map This impressive drawing is hosted by the Midway Community Noise Resource Center.
Chicago Midway Airport Group: Hosted by Yahoo, this group is the place to get the latest news on Midway Airport by aviation enthusiasts.
Midway Photos Check out local photographer Don Gallian’s digital photos of jets at Midway.

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