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We're midair as pilots hear about loss of airfield's tower

Photo: Video by kgun9.com

We're midair as pilots hear about loss of airfield's tower

CREATED Mar. 22, 2013

Reporter: Liz Kotalik 

TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - After about a month of speculation, it has finally become official.

Ryan Airfield's air traffic control tower, along with about 150 others all over the country, will be closed because of sequestration cuts.

But what will this mean for pilots?

Roger Lee, a pilot since 1980, loves to fly around Tucson.

He takes his plane out of the warehouse.

He positions it, climbs in, puts in the key, and makes his way to the runway.

He then begins talking to air traffic control, a group of about seven people who work out of a tower at Ryan Airfield.

Their job is to make sure Roger and other pilots are flying in and out of the airfield safely.

 

But just about an hour before we lifted off, those air traffic controllers were told that they're out of a job.

"They're guiding us around," Roger says, "But when the tower closes April 7th, this will all be...the authority is given to each individual pilot."

Ryan Airfield has been preparing for this news since about a month ago when the F.A.A. told more that 180 small airports around the country that sequestration cuts may force their air traffic control towers to be shut down.

Today, the F.A.A. spared 24 towers because they were deemed necessary to keep for national interest.

But Ryan Airfield here in Tucson wasn't one of the lucky ones, and that means more work for pilots.

"We're gonna have to talk to each other a lot on the radio to make sure that as flights are coming in and as flights are leaving, that we don't interfere with each other or actually have a mid-air collision," Roger says.

Today, Roger lands safely.

But these sequestration cuts put future safety up in the air.

 

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