I went to Midway yesterday to do some recreational flying. I pulled into the gated area that leads to the general aviation ramp (and my rental Cessna) around 5pm. Unusually, a guy in a suit with an earpiece stopped my car. He identified himself as Secret Service and asked me to come back in about 20 minutes. "Someone's coming in here and we need the area clear." I of course obliged, turned my car around, and waited across the street.
After about ten minutes, I noticed a 727 blur past on final approach with a large American flag painted on its tail; I figured this must be our VIP's ride. I walked from my parking spot over to the main intersection across from the airport entrance to get a better look at whoever this was going to be. (Midway travelers: this entrance is on the other side of the airport from the main terminal -- nowhere near the snarl of traffic on Cicero Ave.) About two minutes later, two large men in shorts and sweatshirts -- very undercover-casual -- approached me. The one with sunglasses said, "Mr. Show-bee, may we have a word with you?"
I said, "sure, um, how'd you know my name?"
"We're with the police. Do you have any ID?"
I thought this was curious since clearly he'd used his some of his superpowers to nail me already.
"Sure, here it is."
Sunglasses examines my Driver's License. His partner, wearing a white resort shirt and looking otherwise entirely un-policemanlike, eyes the general vicinity of me without ever making specific eye contact. Must've been a role. There's good cop, bad cop, and "cop? who's a cop?" I gather.
Naturally, Sunglasses is wondering why I'm loitering about.
"I was supposed to go flying this afternoon, but a secret service agent turned me back and told me to wait over here. So I did."
"Ok, I see. Can I see your pilot's license?"
I hand him my green and blue plastic FAA license. He admires the shiny hologram.
"Ok. We'd like to ask that you wait by your car. You can go back to the gate just as soon as you see all the cars leave. Trust us, you'll know when they're gone."
Not looking to cause unrest, I tell him I understand and head back to my car. Surely enough, at almost exactly 20 minutes after the Secret Service suit said it would be about 20 minutes, a black GMC Suburban posse that would make Tom Clancy proud emerged at Jeff Veen speed
, followed by several strobe-laden squad cars. The casual cops get back into their green Dodge Caravan (with street plates and even a dealer frame -- think it read "Orland Park Dodge") and attach themselves directly to the motorcade. By now I figured this was Cheney or Edwards; the FAA hadn't issued any of the airspace flight restrictions that Dubya demands. When I finally got to the flight center, I saw Edwards' 727 sitting on the tarmac
For some reason, it took me a while to put 2+2 together and figure out they knew my name because they ran my plates. I'm just glad they didn't say anything about my outstanding parking tickets.
After all of this excitement passed, my rented Cessna wouldn't start. I've seldom wasted a stranger hour.