New tower won’t mean demise of airport icon
Jamar Younger Arizona Daily Star | Posted: Monday, August 30, 2010 12:00 am
The Tucson International Airport air traffic control tower has welcomed air travelers to the city for more than 50 years with bright neon letters that vertically spell out “TUCSON.”
But how much longer will it operate as an air traffic control tower?
The tower opened in 1958 at the airport, which was then called Tucson Municipal Airport and served a city population of about 100,000, according to information provided by the Tucson Airport Authority.
The 11-story enclosed building had an elevator and was modern for its time compared with the original tower, which was perched on a wooden frame on the airport’s west side.
When the building opened, red neon ran along the four corners of the building, and white and blue neon spelled “TUCSON” down its side.
Despite its status as a local landmark, air traffic controllers have long complained of the tower’s visibility and communications problems.
As a result, airport officials have been working with the Federal Aviation Administration to find a site for a new control tower.
“We are hoping to get a tower at TIA within the next half-dozen years,” said Paula Winn Perino, director of information and government affairs for the Airport Authority. “We hope to have an approved, relocated site from the FAA.”
The FAA is finalizing a site study for the new tower location. It should be done by the end of this year, Perino said.
However, fans of the current tower need not fret.
“The current tower will remain,” she said. “It will still light up.”
Contact reporter Jamar Younger at jyounger or 573-4115.
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