The new tower at
sunset. Photo by Cindy Luft
you’re looking for the best seat in the house, this is it.” So said
FAA Acting Administrator Robert Sturgell at the dedication of Wittman
Regional Airport’s new control tower at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2008 on
more than twice the height of the old facility, the new tower carves a
commanding profile against the AirVenture skyline. EAA President and
AirVenture Chairman Tom Poberezny, also on hand for the ceremony,
recalled working with the FAA and local airport officials on selecting
the tower site.
is the right location, the right facility, and it does more than just
enhance safety and operational effectiveness for the world’s greatest
aviation event,” Poberezny said. “It’s an icon.”
later, with assembled dignitaries including Winnebago County Executive
Mark Harris and Wisconsin Bureau of Aeronautics Director David Greene
lending assistance, an oversized pair of scissors snipped a red ribbon,
and the tower, which has been in operation since July 1, was officially
open for business.
141 feet, the $5.6 million tower, constructed by Neenah-based Miron
Construction Company, is more than twice the height of the old
60-foot-tall facility. But most importantly, as Sturgell pointed out,
“it’s 121 feet to the controller’s eye level.”
just improves things so much,” said a beaming Wanda Adelman, FAA
district manager for air traffic operations in Wisconsin and the Great
Lakes District, overseeing tower operations at AirVenture for the
of the biggest improvements, we can see the approach end of Runway 9.
Planes used to drop below the tree line from the old tower,” Adelman
said. “And at the approach end of Runway 36, it used to be hard to
tell who was aligned with which runway.”
on this latter approach typically use the runway and taxiway for landing
spacious 525-square-foot cab, more than twice the area of the old
tower’s 225-square-footer, will also improve operations.
can spread out and keep the noise levels down,” Adelman said. “That
improves safety—they can speak in a calm voice without having to talk
over other controllers around them, and that helps everybody stay
a post-ceremony visit to the tower cab the difference between the old
and the new was clear. Controllers have lots of room between them, and
the view of the airport is dramatically more expansive. The sleek,
modern interior contrasted well with the cramped, jury-rigged appearance
of the old cab’s interior. A new voice switching system provides
better communication with arriving aircraft, and a STARs display slaved
to Milwaukee’s radar system gives a better electronic view of the
surrounding skies, which will be especially helpful in IFR (instrument
flight rules) conditions.
controllers under the direction of 14 supervisors hailing from 50
different facilities are working in the tower during AirVenture 2008.
The color of their distinctive fluorescent pink polo shirts was chosen
to enhance visibility when controllers are directing ground traffic from
mobile command posts, according to Adelman.
who had already made several visits to the tower since it went in to
service, looked over the operations approvingly.
is a busy place this time of year,” he said in characteristic
understatement. “We’re running operations equal to or greater than
Chicago O’Hare [airport]. And the reason we can do that and do it
safely is largely because of the people in the pink shirts.”