Don’t wait for midair mishap to staff tower
March 13, 2013 12:00 AM | 1949 views | 4 4 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print

I am deeply concerned about the FAA tower closings around the country and especially about the tower being closed at McCollum Airport in Kennesaw. I would like to think that there are other ways that the FAA could cut spending or that the current administration in Washington would accept the republican proposal to reallocate funds within agencies.

I have been a private pilot for 50 years and rarely fly into an airport as busy as McCollum. I vividly remember a day back in the 1960s when I was approaching McCollum to land before we had a control tower.

About four miles from the end of Runway 27 I heard another airplane near me but could not see it. It turns out that it was above and descended in front of my airplane.

He could not see me and I could not see him.

A scary day and not one I would want to repeat. I also remember a day when an airplane was taking off from McCollum about the time that another was entering the traffic pattern to land. Both were high wing airplanes and neither saw the other one. The plane taking off left tire marks on the wing of the landing airplane.

Fortunately both airplanes survived to fly another day.

Pilots have the responsibility to “see and avoid” other aircraft.

However this can be difficult, especially when the other airplane is near the ground and difficult to spot. We also have a responsibility to “self announce” our intentions when approaching a non-towered airport and to report our positions in the traffic pattern. These rules serve us well at airports with little traffic but can raise one’s blood pressure when approaching an airport like McCollum.

About a month ago I was returning to McCollum and there were 8 or 10 airplanes trying to land at the same time. Most were single-engine aircraft but a couple were faster jets. Thankfully the tower controllers were there to provide separation from other aircraft and sequence them to land in an orderly fashion.

In reading Monday’s article in the MDJ, I understand that the county is considering the possibility of funding control tower operations.

According to the article, airport operations generate about $600,000 per year of the $500,000 that it costs to operate, leaving about $100,000 per year to cover unanticipated expenses. Not knowing if the FAA will reinstate funding of the control tower I understand that there might be a reluctance for the county to assume the cost.

However, according to the county’s website, McCollum provides the county with 842 jobs; $25 million dollars in payroll and an economic impact for the county of $112 million.

Hopefully we will not have to wait until there is a midair collision over Town Center Mall killing an untold number of people in the air and ground before either the county or FAA decides that something must be done.

Paull W Saffold III

Comments-icon Post a Comment
March 14, 2013
Where is the area CID right now? I'm not an alarmist, but when I heard about the control tower shutting down I seriously decided to minimize my time at businesses, theaters and establishments around the area. All we need is a small plane landing in the Barrett Commons theater lobby....

Seems this is something the cash-rich CIDs might be concerned with. Though they're counting on the idiots who don't read newspapers to just keep comin'.
Sky Pilot
March 13, 2013
Oh, so NOW you want the government.

Conservatives crack me up. This reminds me of their fuming rage when they talk about "waste" at the Postal Service. But when you suggest they close the main POs in Kennesaw or Marietta they scream, "I'm not talking about THAT one!"
Papermmill gal
March 14, 2013
Sky Pilot, don't you mean Air Head?
Barney Google
March 13, 2013
is there a rule that the tower has to be funded by the feds and you can not hire private air traffic controllers with enough experience to man it? Or a law that states you can not charge enough landing fees, hanger rent, etc to cover the operational expenses of the airport? Typical government operation if you do not want to look at being self funded.
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