The new ATC tower
at Witman Regional Airport provides a much better view of runway
18/36 for controllers.
On Tuesday, July 15, the FAA opened its
new, $5.6 million air traffic control tower to local media for facility
tours in advance of EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2008, and it's definitely a
room with a great view. The 525-square foot tower cab is significantly
larger than that of the old tower, which was commissioned in 1963.
Oshkosh Tower personnel began operating
from the new facility on July 1, to "make sure any last-minute bugs
were taken care of prior to AirVenture," said Wanda Adelman, FAA
district manager for air traffic operations in Wisconsin and the Great
Lakes District. Adelman praised the Miron Construction Company, whose
efforts allowed for the project to be completed ahead of schedule.
"We pushed them very hard to get
this tower operational for 2008," she said. "Original
estimates were that we wouldn't get into this facility until 2009 or
possibly 2010, and that wasn't acceptable to us."
Marty Sweeney, a full-time controller at
Oshkosh, said visibility from the new tower is much improved over the
previous one. "Now we can easily see the approach end of Runway 9.
From the old tower we couldn't see that end of the runway at all because
trees obstructed our view," he explained. In addition, the added
height makes it much easier for controllers to distinguish ground
traffic on the perimeter roads. "Sometimes it looked as if they
were on the taxiways," he added, "and we have a clearer view
Runways 4/22, which will allow us to use those more."
At 116 feet (at the floor of the cab),
the new tower is about 65 feet higher than the old facility. The cab has
four controller positions plus a supervisor position for normal
operations, but during AirVenture, 12 to 15 controllers and supervisors
will be operating from the facility. "That's why the larger cab was
needed," Adelman said.
During AirVenture 2008, 64 controllers
and 14 supervisors from 50 different facilities throughout the country -
all volunteers - will direct incoming and departing traffic. (More than
170 controllers put in for the prestigious duty) AirVenture is
considered "The Super Bowl of air traffic control."
"They don't get a Super Bowl ring,
but they do get a highly coveted fluorescent pink polo shirt,"
Adelman added. "We chose that color specifically because it makes
the controllers readily visible to pilots when they're taxiing. It
serves a safety function."