Concern over loss of air traffic control towers

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OKLAHOMA CITY – Concern over the friendly skies at Wiley Post Airport, a  place with a decent amount of private plane traffic.

It’s one of the 149 airports across the nation slated to become an “uncontrolled” airport when the FAA shuts down the air traffic control tower.

“It will make this airport less safe, absolutely,” instructor pilot Britton Lee said.

She said she worries about the impact the loss of a control tower will have on her students and on the corporate traffic that flies in and out of the airport.

An uncontrolled tower means pilots will have to rely on each other and communicate over the radio during takeoff and landing.

“At an un-towered airport, nobody may be talking at all and again that goes back to the visibility issue,” Lee said. “You may have an aircraft that is much faster overtaking an aircraft that is much slower.”

Three other airports in Oklahoma will also lose their towers in these cuts: Norman’s Max Westheimer airport, Stillwater regional airport and Lawton-Ft. Sill Regional.

In Norman, disappointment but resolve to keep the skies as safe as possible.

“We will basically give a safety briefing to all of our students on how to operate in an uncontrolled environment,” director Ken Carson said.

The cuts are slated to start in April.

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