Chicago Executive Airport

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Chicago Executive Airport
Palwaukee Municipal Airport (USGS).png
USGS aerial image
Airport type Public
Owner City of Prospect Heights and Village of Wheeling
Serves Chicago
Location Wheeling, Illinois
Elevation AMSL 647 ft / 197 m
Coordinates 42°06′51″N 087°54′06″W / 42.11417°N 87.90167°W / 42.11417; -87.90167
Direction Length Surface
ft m
6/24 3,660 1,116 Asphalt
12/30 4,415 1,346 Asphalt
16/34 5,000 1,524 Asphalt
Statistics (2008)
Aircraft operations 108,429
Based aircraft 265
Source: FAA,[1] airport website[2]
FAA diagram

Chicago Executive Airport (IATA: PWKICAO: KPWKFAA 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. It is owned by the City of Prospect Heights and the Village of Wheeling.[1][2]

The airport logs over 167,000 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]


The airport covers 411 acres (166 ha) at an elevation of 647 feet (197 m). It has three asphalt runways: 6/24 is 3,660 by 50 feet (1,116 x 15 m); 12/30 is 4,415 by 75 feet (1,346 x 23 m); 16/34 is 5,000 by 150 feet (1,524 x 46 m).[1]

In the year ending May 31, 2008 the airport had 108,429 aircraft operations, average 297 per day: 87% general aviation, 13% air taxi, and <1% military. 265 aircraft were then based at the airport: 64% single-engine, 16% multi-engine, 19% jet and 1% 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 two national fixed base operators, Atlantic Aviation and Signature Flight Support, 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 parking, a picnic table, bleacher seating and a PA speaker to allow visitors to monitor Air Traffic Control radio communications. 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.[7]
  • 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.[8]
  • 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.[9][10]
  • 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.[11] 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."[12] The pilot's decision to operate the aircraft after using marijuana was also cited as a contributing factor in the crash.[13]


  1. ^ a b c d FAA Airport Master Record for PWK (Form 5010 PDF). Federal Aviation Administration. Effective 8 April 2010.
  2. ^ a b Chicago Executive Airport, official website
  3. ^ a b Chicago Executive Airport Information
  4. ^ "Municipal airport experiences whirlwind on changes". Daily Herald. 2007-04-30. Retrieved 2007-05-04. [dead link]
  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. Retrieved 8 October 2015. 
  7. ^ "Official NTSB accident report". 
  8. ^ "Official NTSB accident report". 
  9. ^ Simmons, Dan; Wronski, Richard; Wang, Andrew L. (January 6, 2010). "Bodies of pilot, co-pilot recovered from river". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved January 8, 2010. 
  10. ^ "Preliminary NTSB accident report". 
  11. ^ 3 killed in small plane crash in Riverwoods
  12. ^ NTSB Final report
  13. ^ Report: Pilot flying plane that killed South Palm Beach couple in 2011 had marijuna in system

Other sources[edit]

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