Reporting Maria Medina
SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – A former Sacramento Executive Airport traffic controller warns that shutting down the control tower could make it more dangerous to fly in and out of the airport.
That tower is just one of dozens the Obama administration has ordered to be closed due to sequestration.
“I don’t want to say I told you so,” said Stacy Clark, a former air traffic controller at Sacramento Executive Airport.
He believes shutting down the tower could be a fatal mistake, saying he’s helped avoid too many accidents to mention.
“It’s what we do though,” he said.
Clark says the busy airport is watched by two to three air controllers at a time as pilots maneuver in and out of the complex’s non-traditional runway.
“You get this nose to nose thing all the time, which, the controllers, we separate them,” said Clark of simultaneous landings and takeoffs.
Without the tower, he fears pilots unfamiliar with the airport and without radios, or those who have radios and don’t use them, could run into disaster.
“Not every pilot is as sharp as the other guy,” said Clark.
He’s got the same fears about pilots in the sky. No longer will traffic controllers alert them about migrating geese, or a jet coming from McClellan and Mather Airports, or even a commercial plane from Sacramento International Airport.
The spokesperson for the Sacramento County Airport says many airports run successfully without towers. However, months after a deadly cargo plane crash at Mather Airport in 1997, the decision was made to man the tower there.
Clark fears the tower at Sacramento Executive Airport will come back only when it’s too late.
“In reality, the pilots are going to be OK. They probably will be OK, but if we’re there now, there’s a reason,” said Clark.
The Federal Aviation Administration says Sacramento Executive Airport goes unmanned without a tower everyday from 9 p.m. until 6 a.m.
The airport towers are set to close on April 7 in a phased closure.