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View Diary: OMG - Air Traffic Contol Towers Closed near SLC Intl Airport & Hill AF Base (11 comments)

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  •  This is a concern to all pilots. (6+ / 0-)

    I went down the list of closures.  As far as I can tell, the towers affected are those which were already manned by contractors rather than FAA employees.  That does not make them any less competent than FAA employees.  I am familiar with a number of the fields whose towers are closing. Some don't bother me too much, since those fields barely have enough traffic to justify keeping the towers open.  Others bother me a lot.  

    Having flown in and out of fields without air traffic control services on the field, but having a military air base nearby, there is a protocol.  Once airborne, I talk to the military controllers until clear of their airspace.  This means the field is not left completely "bare" but does add to the workload of the military controllers, and there is still no tower operator on the field.  What the military controllers cannot do is give clearances for takeoff and landing, or direct traffic on the field.  For one thing they cannot see low flying traffic and obviously, cannot see the field.

    Airports that cater to small general aviation aircraft only do not bother me all that much.  It is when there is a mix of small training aircraft with a top speed of 100 mph and jet traffic that cannot anywhere near that slow bothers me.  Besides, student pilots are just developing their abillty to scan the sky and see other traffic.  

    One more thing. Just because a tower is operating, doesn't mean accidents won't happen.  I was only a couple of miles away at the time of this mid-air at St. Louis Lambert Field in 1968.  An Ozark Airlines jet collided with a Cessna 150 trainer.  The jet landed with severe damage, but the Cessna crashed in pieces in a residential neighborhood, killing both student and instructor.  

    Also at St. Louis, I was driving past Lambert Field in 1966 when two astronauts crashed into one of the buildings at the McDonnell-Douglas aircraft factory.  Weather was lousy and it was hard to see what was happening, but I knew it was bad.

    Air traffic, especially commercial traffic, is increasing.  Industrial psychologists who study workplace stress say two of the most stressful occupations are airline pilot and air traffic controller.

    Things first started going downhill when Ronnie Raygun decided to gut PATCO, the air traffic controller's union. They were trying to get equipment upgrades and better working conditions. Instead, the Republicans saw a perfect opportunity to get rid of a union.  They put administrators in charge of ACT and that was a scary time.  I could not believe it when the Republicans named Washington National Airport after that demented old ideologue.  

    The general who wins the battle makes many calculations in his temple before the battle is fought. The general who loses makes but few calculations beforehand. - Sun Tzu

    by Otteray Scribe on Wed Mar 27, 2013 at 02:31:25 AM PDT

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