Pilots flying to the former Palwaukee Airport north of Chicago are going to have to remember to say Chicago Executive Airport when they call the tower. The airport changes its name officially on October 17. Palwaukee Airport opened in 1925 and was originally named Gauthier’s Flying Field. According to airport manager Dennis Rouleau, sometime in the 1940s the name changed to Palwaukee because local pilots used the cross streets (Palatine Road and Milwaukee Avenue) that bordered the airport as landmarks.
The reason for the change, Rouleau said, is that the airport board felt it was time to update the name to reflect the airport’s proximity to Chicago (eight miles north of the city) and its roots as a business aviation center. “We looked at a bunch of names,” he said, “but Chicago Executive stuck, and all of our strategic partners on the airport are pleased with the name.”
Another reason for the name change, Rouleau said, is that “people used to call up and wonder if the town of Palwaukee owned the airport.” Or lost drivers would call, asking how to find the city of Palwaukee. The airport is owned by the village of Wheeling and the city of Prospect Heights, Ill., both of which voted to adopt the new name. The airport’s identifier will remain PWK, according to Rouleau.