OSHKOSH - The Federal Aviation Administration announced today it will close 149 airport control towers nationwide. The FAA needs to cut 637 million dollars by September as part of federal budget cuts.
One of the airports affected is Wittman Regional in Oshkosh. The airport's director told FOX 11 the closing will have a profound affect on the airport's day-to-day operations.
Wittman Regional Airport will still run without its control tower, but director Peter Moll said pilots and ground crew will have more work to do.
"Effectively become their own controllers and understand where all the other traffic is and hopefully avoid collisions," explained Moll.
Jeff Wanke is the president of Orion Flight Services. He told us pilots train to fly into and out of airports with control towers and those without. So, he explained, Wittman will still be safe.
"The tower does add another level of safety and it also adds a level of convenience, if you will, for pilots. It helps us operate more efficiently,' said Wanke.
Which means his business could take a slight hit. He told us on days with bad weather, pilots might land elsewhere.
"They may choose to go to a towered airport, Appleton, of course, has a tower,' said Wanke.
Winnebago County Executive Mark Harris told us the tower's closure is a hit to the county too. It just paid one million dollars to buy land to build an Aviation Industrial Park by the airport.
"it's still good without the tower, but it was great with the tower," said Harris.
Harris said the county is considering funding the tower itself.
"I think that's something that could happen in the future if we know that this is, in fact, permanent," explained Harris.
Moll told us it's unclear if the tower could reopen. In fact, he said, it's unclear just when it will close too. The FAA will start the closures over a four week period starting April 8th.
"Government trying to get its act together, it's frustrating," remarked Moll.
EAA officials told us the tower closure will not affect AirVenture.
Seven other airports are closing in Wisconsin. They are in Eau Claire, Mosinee, La Crosse, Janesville, Waukesha, Kenosha and Milwaukee. The Milwaukee tower is at Timmermann Field.
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