Air Traffic Control Tower at Kingsley Escapes Closure

, Written by Lyle Ahrens, Posted: Fri, March 22 2013 at 5:02 PM, Updated: Fri, March 22 2013 at 5:17 PM

The air traffic control tower at Kingsley Field will remain open and operational, after being threatened by budget cuts...but four other towers in Oregon are still slated for closure.

Congressman Greg Walden welcomed the announcement while touring Kingsley Field...

"Not only will the tower stay open and fully operational through the end of this fiscal year, it also means that it's off the list to be closed going down the line."

In a letter to F.A.A. Administrator Michael Huerta, Walden had emphasized the 'national defense' element of Kingsley...

"I think in the end, that's what played out here - it was very easy to make the case that national security interests were very much in play here."

173rd Fighter Wing Commander Colonel Jeremy Baenen notes that Kingsley boasts a mix of military, commercial, general aviation, and fire tanker traffic...

"From the military side, we're operating about 20 flights per day, but we're seeing about that same or more from the civilian side as well."

And, what would have happened if the tower had closed?

"Best case scenario, a lot of inefficiencies."  Noted Kingsley Field Air Traffic Manager Doug Cunningham.  "Worst case scenario, catastrophies."

Congressman Walden adds that towers in North Bend, Pendleton, Salem, and Portland / Troutdale are still slated for closure next month...

"Some of them don't have this national component, national security component to them - and I think it makes it harder for them."

'Sequestration' cuts could still impact Kingsley Field, with nearly 300 Guard personnel facing weekly furlough days.

Of the 189 towers nationwide that had been scheduled for closure, only 40 will remain open.

149 federal contract towers will begin shutting down on April 7th.

About the Author

Lyle Ahrens

KOTI-TV NBC2 reporter Lyle Ahrens moved from Nebraska to Klamath Falls in the late 1970's.  He instantly fell in love with the mountains, the trees and the rivers, and never once regretted the move.

Lyle's job history is quite colorful.  He’s managed a pizza parlor; he’s been a bartender, and a “kiwifruit grader” at an organic orchard in New Zealand.  A Klamath Falls radio station hired Lyle in the mid 90's as a news writer and commercial producer.  In 2004, Lyle joined the KOTI/KOBI news operation.

Lyle notes with pride that he has a big responsibility presenting the Klamath Basin to a wide and varied audience.  "The on-going water crisis has underscored the fact that the people and the issues in the Klamath Basin are every bit as diverse as the terrain.  Winning and keeping the trust of the viewers, as well as the newsmakers, is something I strive for with each story".

When he's not busy reporting the news, Lyle enjoys astronomy, playing guitar, fixing old radios and listening to anything by Sheryl Crow.

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