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Will St. Pete Airport Lose Air Traffic Control?

The control tower at Albert Whitted Airport is slated to close April 7 because of federal cuts from sequestration, according to media reports.

The Albert Whitted Airport is on a list of 173 local airports that will lose traffic controllers because of spending cuts from sequestration, the Tampa Bay Times is reporting.

"It really is a bad idea what the government is doing here," said private pilot Jack Tunstill told the Times. Tunstill is on the airport advisory committee and is a flight instructor at the downtown airport.

According to the Times, the air traffic control tower will close April 7 unless a deal is struck by Congress to soften the automatic spending cuts.

The airport advisory committee has reached out to the St. Petersburg City Council for help and recommendations for lobbying Florida representatives in Washington, D.C.

Without air traffic controllers, pilots are forced to take off and land on their own, and will not have assistance from a trained professional in an air traffic control tower.

The downtown airport is largely used by private pilots, though corporate jets and a limited number of commercial flights also do business at the airport.

The airport has had a control tower since the 1960s, though there are a small number of private plane crashes each year, usually at takeoff or landing. The airport is right next to Tampa Bay on the southern edge of the downtown.

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Steve March 08, 2013 at 12:12 PM
It is not "the government" that did this: it's the House of Representatives and Florida's go-along-to-get-along delegation, such as Bill Young, who's doing it, with the able complicity of Marco Rubio and the Republicans in the Senate. To those of you clamoring about "over-spending" and the "need to cut," this is a cut; and there are more coming. Only two solutions: cut, or take in more revenue, and the Republicans have yet to get the message on the second alternative. Writing to the FAA will do no good: let these guys hear from you if you're serious about how unwise these cuts are.

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