Chicago Executive Airport

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Chicago Executive Airport
Palwaukee Municipal Airport (USGS).png
USGS aerial image
Airport typePublic
OwnerCity of Prospect Heights and Village of Wheeling
LocationWheeling, Illinois
Elevation AMSL647 ft / 197 m
Coordinates42°06′51″N 087°54′06″W / 42.11417°N 87.90167°W / 42.11417; -87.90167Coordinates: 42°06′51″N 087°54′06″W / 42.11417°N 87.90167°W / 42.11417; -87.90167
PWK is located in Illinois
Location of airport in Illinois
PWK is located in the United States
PWK (the United States)
Direction Length Surface
ft m
16/34 5,001 1,524 Asphalt
12/30 4,415 1,346 Asphalt
6/24 3,677 1,121 Asphalt
Aircraft operations (2014)77,321
Based aircraft (2017)194
Source: FAA,[1] airport website[2]
FAA diagram

Chicago Executive Airport (IATA: PWK, ICAO: KPWK, FAA LID: PWK), formerly Palwaukee Municipal Airport, is a public airport 18 miles (33 km) northwest of Chicago, in the village of Wheeling in Cook County, Illinois, United States. It is owned by the City of Prospect Heights and the Village of Wheeling.[1][2]

The airport logs over 77,000 take-offs and landings each year and is the fourth busiest airport in Illinois.[3]


The airport opened in 1925 as Gauthier's Flying Field. It was named Pal-Waukee in November 1928, from its location near the intersection of Palatine Road and Milwaukee Avenue. In 1953 the airport was purchased by George J. Priester who developed the airport over the next 33 years, installing paved runways, lighting, hangars and an air traffic control tower. In 1986 George's son Charlie negotiated the sale of the airport to Wheeling and Prospect Heights and it was renamed Palwaukee Municipal Airport.[3][4][5]

Charlie Priester kept an FBO at the airport along with a charter company called Priester Aviation. Priester sold the FBO to Signature Flight Support in 2001, and turned over operational control of Priester Charter to his son Andy in 2004.

In August 2006, trustees from the village of Wheeling and alderman from the City Council of Prospect Heights voted to approve a name change. On October 17, 2006 Palwaukee Municipal Airport was renamed Chicago Executive Airport.

In October 2015, Cincinnati based Ultimate Air Shuttle announced plans to begin service from the airport to Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport in January or February 2016.[6]

Sally Strempel, a female pioneer in aviation, bought a flight school in 1950 at Palwukee Airport. She renamed it Sally's Flying School and retained it until 1966. Strempel was a member of the Illinois Aviation Hall of Fame [7] and was the first woman in Illinois and one of the first five nationally to be designated by the Federal Aviation Administration as a flight instructor, who could give private and commercial exams to student pilots.


The airport covers 411 acres (166 ha) at an elevation of 647 feet (197 m). It has three asphalt runways: 6/24 is 3,677 by 50 feet (1,121 x 15 m); 12/30 is 4,415 by 75 feet (1,346 x 23 m); 16/34 is 5,001 by 150 feet (1,524 x 46 m).[1]

For the year ending July 31, 2014 the airport had 77,321 aircraft operations, an average of 212 per day: 83% general aviation, 17% air taxi and less than 1% military. In June 2017, there were 194 aircraft based at this airport: 105 single-engine, 22 multi-engine, 62 jet and 5 helicopter.[1]

The airport can handle executive jets in the 20-seat range, such as the Grumman Gulfstream and the Bombardier Challenger, and larger aircraft occasionally visit. Occasional military transport aircraft, such as the Lockheed C-130, use the airport when carrying service members to local facilities such as Great Lakes Naval Training Center or the North Chicago V.A. Hospital.

Tenants of the airport include three national fixed-base operators, Atlantic Aviation, Signature Flight Support, and Hawthorne Global Aviation Services who provide fueling and handling for transient aircraft and a significant portion of the locally based aircraft. Priester Air Charter, Palwaukee Flyers, and several smaller firms and aircraft operators are also present.

In 2007 Chicago Executive's management created a public viewing area east of the south end of Runway 16-34 along Palatine Frontage Road, with lighted parking, a picnic table, and bleacher seating. A bulletin board has a copy of the current FAA chart, posters for events and educational information. The area is open 24/7.


  • October 30, 1996, a twin engine Gulfstream IV business jet with three crew members and one passenger lost control upon takeoff and crashed immediately to the north of the airport. All four aboard perished.[8]
  • January 30, 2006, an eight-seat twin engine Cessna 421B with four passengers crashed about one mile (1.6 km) south of the airport. The aircraft was heading from Kansas to Palwaukee. There were no survivors.[9]
  • January 5, 2010 a Learjet 35A crashed into the Des Plaines River in the Cook County Forest Preserve about a mile south of the airport while on final approach. The jet, operated by Royal Air Freight Inc. of Waterford, Michigan, was empty at the time of the crash. The pilot and co-pilot were killed.[10][11]
  • November 28, 2011, a Piper PA-31 crashed on approach to Chicago Executive Airport. The aircraft was operating as a medical transport plane. The pilot, the patient, and the patient's wife were killed in the crash. Two other people on board survived.[12] NTSB investigators determined the accident to be caused by "the pilot's inadequate preflight planning and in-flight decision-making, which resulted in a loss of engine power due to fuel exhaustion during approach."[13] The pilot's decision to operate the aircraft after using marijuana was also cited as a contributing factor in the crash.[14]


  1. ^ a b c d FAA Airport Master Record for PWK (Form 5010 PDF). Federal Aviation Administration. effective June 22, 2017.
  2. ^ a b Chicago Executive Airport, official website
  3. ^ a b Chicago Executive Airport Information Archived 2009-02-27 at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ "Municipal airport experiences whirlwind on changes". Daily Herald. 2007-04-30. Archived from the original on 2011-06-08. Retrieved 2007-05-04.
  5. ^ "Priester Aviation Making History by Looking Ahead". Aviation Business Journal. date unknown. Archived from the original on 2007-09-28. Retrieved 2007-05-04. Check date values in: |date= (help)
  6. ^ Engel, Liz. "Cleveland's ready, but where is Ultimate Air headed next?". WCPO. WCPO. Archived from the original on 9 October 2015. Retrieved 8 October 2015.
  7. ^ Illinois Aviation Hall of Fame
  8. ^ "Official NTSB accident report". Archived from the original on 2006-02-23.
  9. ^ "Official NTSB accident report".[permanent dead link]
  10. ^ Simmons, Dan; Wronski, Richard; Wang, Andrew L. (January 6, 2010). "Bodies of pilot, co-pilot recovered from river". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved January 8, 2010.
  11. ^ "Preliminary NTSB accident report".
  12. ^ "3 killed in small plane crash in Riverwoods". Archived from the original on 2013-10-19. Retrieved 2019-06-29.
  13. ^ NTSB Final report
  14. ^ Report: Pilot flying plane that killed South Palm Beach couple in 2011 had marijuna in system

Other sources[edit]

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