Ohio County Airport May Lose Control Tower Due To Sequestration - WTRF 7 News Sports Weather - Wheeling Steubenville

Ohio County Airport May Lose Control Tower Due To Sequestration

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The Wheeling Ohio County Airport handled 40,000 take-offs and landings last year.

Airport Manager Tom Tominack says two features about this airport make air traffic control essential.

"We have intersecting runways serving the airport, and in that case, control tower service provides a separation that's very vital," said Tominack. "The second thing that concerns us is that we have a National Guard base here that operates Black Hawk helicopters. And their training consists of very active time periods by which the pattern gets literally filled with helicopters, five and six at a time."

He says this airport handles a lot of corporate traffic.

Every business from coal to retail sends their executives by air.

So does the entertainment industry.

Jerry Springer and Jerry Seinfeld both flew out of this airport within the past month.

Tominack emphasizes this airport will stay open, no matter what.

But if the sequestration happens, it will be one of 238 airports nationwide to lose their tower.

And those helpful guiding voices from the tower save lives.

"I mean we've had air traffic control services at the airport since 1949," said Tominack. "And the users have come to rely on them on a daily basis. And without it, there's definitely an element of safety that's compromised."

Tominack say it's unlike anything he's ever seen.

He says the aviation industry is based on safety, and closing towers flies in the face of that.

This tower employs one manager and four air traffic controllers.