About two weeks ago, residents in Brookfield and Riverside wondered if their homes were some somehow teleported to the neighborhood near Midway Airport due to an alarming, and noisy, increase in low-flying aircraft heading toward the runways there.
One Brookfield resident, Terry Murphy, complained that the traffic over his house was almost non-stop and appeared to be coming not just from airplanes heading to Midway but O’Hare as well.
“Do you know why we are getting five-six hours of continuous jets flying over the areas near 29th and Sunnyside in Brookfield?” Murphy asked on Sept. 13. “The last two-three weeks have been horrible with planes coming in from two or three angles at a rate of two minutes apart.”
Murphy on Sept. 12 went so far as to film the air traffic, which showed a parade of blue and red Southwest Airlines jets screaming overhead.
The villages of Riverside and Brookfield both sent inquiries to the Chicago Department of Aviation asking for clarification about the sudden increase in low-flying places over the area.
The Landmark also inquired about the problem, which vanished on Sept. 14 as suddenly as it appeared. It took a while, but on Sept. 22, the Department of Aviation responded to the newspaper’s inquiry with an email.
And while the Landmark wasn’t able to get any info regarding any flight pattern issues from O’Hare that might have affected the area during that time, something was definitely going on at Midway, which is just a little more than four miles from the southern borders of Riverside and Brookfield, as the jet flies.
The good news is that the change in flight patterns between Sept. 10 and Sept. 13 was due to a runway maintenance issue at Midway Airport. The bad news is that there’s no guarantee it won’t happen again, because, as the Department of Aviation explained, “the runway configuration in use at the time (arrivals and departures on Runway 13C) is one of many approved runway configurations at Midway Airport.”
Runway 13C is one of the two longest and most heavily trafficked runways at Midway. It runs diagonally across the airfield from the northwest to the southeast (right in line with Brookfield and Riverside), spanning about 6,500 feet.
According to the Department of Aviation’s statement, the runway is used by the FAA less than 10 percent of the time annually and during the time of runway construction that particular runway configuration was used “due mostly to wind conditions.”
“There are many factors that determine which runway configuration is used by the FAA, including weather conditions, runway construction and aircraft performance,” the statement said. “Runway repairs and rehabilitation occur periodically at Midway. This was a temporary issue due to construction and has been resolved.”
But, according to Murphy, while the Midway traffic has indeed been resolved, the takeoff traffic from O’Hare remains a problem.
“Been in same house 22 years and never heard planes from there. Now it’s constant from 4 p.m. until 10 p.m.,” Murphy said. “They take off westbound and hook a super quick left, coming across the area on three different flight paths, one up 17th Avenue, one southeast diagonally right over 29th and Sunnyside and the other following the Des Plaines River in Riverside.”