Senators Work to Prevent Air Tower Closures

, Written by Lyle Ahrens, Posted: Thu, March 14 2013 at 4:20 PM, Updated: Thu, March 14 2013 at 4:29 PM

A Senate amendment could help avert closure of the airport tower at Kingsley Field...1 of 5 air traffic control towers in Oregon threatened by 'sequestration' cuts.

Klamath Falls Airport Director John Longley is optimistic...

"We think it's just excellent news."

Legislation introduced Wednesday by Oregon Senators Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden would tap into about 50 million dollars in unusued FAA research funds to keep 189 small airport towers nationwide from closing in early April.

Longley notes that of the 189 airport towers scheduled for closure, the one at the Klamath Falls Airport is somewhat unique...

"We're 1 of 5 in the United States that actually has its contract out of the National Guard Bureau back at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland."

Longley says the mix of fighter jets, commercial, and private planes make air traffic control at Kingsley Field essential...

"And during that period of time that the high performance jets operate, it's just absolutely critical that we have a tower."

Military flights account for about 45% of the air traffic at Kingsley Field.

Other airport towers targeted for closure in Oregon include airports in North Bend, Pendleton, Salem, and Troutdale.

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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