Lewis University Airport
|Lewis University Airport|
|Owner/Operator||Joliet Regional Port Dist.|
|Serves||Chicago, Romeoville, Illinois|
|Elevation AMSL||680 ft / 207 m|
Lewis University Airport (IATA: LOT, ICAO: KLOT, FAA LID: LOT) is a public airport located 20 miles (32 km) southwest of Chicago, in the village of Romeoville in Will County, Illinois, United States. The Joliet Regional Port District assumed ownership of the airport in 1989. The National Weather Service Chicago, Illinois (Chicago Forecast Office) is adjacent to the airport.
The Great Depression brought tremendous despair to Chicago's inner city families, and many adolescent boys slipped into trouble with the law. Bishop Bernard J. Sheil knew that in the right surroundings, boys could be coached toward productive, law-abiding lives. The Catholic Youth Organization, which he founded in 1930, was a start. But Bishop Sheil dreamed of removing smart boys of low means from their depressed situation, and launching them onto a solid career path. Charles Lindbergh's great flight three years earlier had galvanized the nation toward the glamour and promise of aviation, so that same year, with no idea of where to get funding, Sheil founded the Holy Name School of Aeronautics. Coincidentally, Michael and Frances Fitzpatrick, devout Catholics who had homesteaded Lockport in the early nineteenth century, approached Cardinal Mundelein of the Chicago Archdiocese. They offered to donate 160 acres to the Church for "whatever purpose it might best be used." To the bishop and many others, the synchrony of these two events seemed divinely inspired. Michael Fitzpatrick (with shovel) and the general officers of the Holy Name Society break ground for "Holy Name Technical School" on February 9, 1931.
Newspapers reported that Bishop Sheil, despite his dedication to this moment, was unable to be present, "due to unforeseen circumstances which demanded his presence in Chicago." Owing to the aeronautical focus of Bishop Sheil's vision, the first building erected was a combined hangar, machine shop and classroom structure. A second floor housed a dormitory, electric shop, washroom and office. An administration building was also erected, with dining, kitchen and faculty accommodations. Both were completed and operational in 1932. It is interesting to note that the original hangar was built well before the school had a single aircraft to maintain, or a runway from which to fly it. That was remedied when the school purchased a damaged Ryan monoplane --sister ship to Lindbergh's -at auction for $510, with the intention of using it for ground training. In 1932 Chicago philanthropist Frank J. Lewis offered his support for the bishop's dream. Earlier that year Lewis lost his son, an aviation enthusiast, in a tragic airplane accident, and he saw an opportunity to create a remembrance.
On April 14, 1989 for a $2,260,000 transfer of ownership, yielding perhaps one of the longest "official" names ever bestowed on a public airport --"Lewis University Airport, Owned and Operated by the Joliet Regional Port District." The new airport had been the object of the Port District's desires since 1983, when the District and the University co-signed a purchase agreement. Now at last it could become the focus of a planned $100 million, 1500 acre on-going expansion program, while continuing to accommodate the needs of Lewis University for an on-campus airport. The Port District itself was created in 1957 to "locate, establish and maintain a public airport" for the Joliet area. Being constrained by short, land-locked runways at the original Joliet airport on Jefferson Street (Route 52), in 1980 the District began to study the possibility of purchasing Lewis, with the specific charter to develop a reliever airport for growth in the southwest suburbs. A reliever airport, experts felt, would relieve congestion at O'Hare and Midway airports by accommodating corporate jet traffic. Area economists also felt airport development would stimulate business and industry in Will County.
Facilities and aircraft
- Runway 2/20: 6,500 x 100 ft (1,981 x 30 m), Surface: Concrete
- Runway 9/27: 5,696 x 75 ft (1,736 x 23 m), Surface: Asphalt
For 12-month period ending 31 December 2005 the airport had 104,000 aircraft operations, an average of 284 per day: 96% general aviation (100,000) and 4% air taxi (4,000). There are 203 aircraft based at this airport: 84% single engine (171), 10% multi engine (21), 4% jet aircraft (9) and 1% helicopters (2).
- FAA Airport Master Record for LOT ( PDF), retrieved 15 March 2007
- Lewis University Airport (official website)
- AOPA pilot: 67. February 2014. Missing or empty
- Resources for this airport:
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