Eight Wisconsin air traffic towers close including Janesville - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

Eight Wisconsin air traffic towers close including Janesville

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JANESVILLE (WKOW)-- Nearly 150 air traffic control towers will soon be closed by the Federal Aviation Administration. Eight of them are in Wisconsin including the towers in Janesville, Mosinee, Eau Claire, Kenosha, Oshkosh, Waukesha, and the Timmerman Airport in Milwaukee.

The FAA is closing these control towers because of a $600 million budget cut. The closings will happen in early April leaving thousands of air traffic controllers without a job.

At the Southern Wisconsin Regional airport in Janesville, longtime air traffic controller King Clark and his co-worker Lance are watching the sky. Both are retired airmen who have been directing flights their entire lives.

"That's all I know. I'm an air traffic controller through and through and that's it. Now, I'm going to have to go flip burgers. What am I going to do?" Clark says.

Air traffic controllers have known for weeks that the FAA was looking at closing nearly 200 towers across the country. However, Clark says he and his co-workers never really thought it would go through. Friday morning they were notified that in April they would be unemployed.

Without the towers, communication will fall on the pilots themselves. At the airport in Janesville an estimated 60,000 take offs and landings happen each year. More than 500 flights each day during the busy season.

"I'm shocked that it's going to be closed. I feel that something is going to happen," Clark explains. "It's not if, it's when."

Area business leaders say the closing will also affect the local economy making it harder to attract new companies to the area.

The closings will have an even greater affect on public airports like La Crosse, which offers commercial flights from Delta and American Airlines.

"The trickle down effect is going to be immense. We're in disbelief," Clark says.

Air traffic controllers with Midwest Air Traffic Control say the company is trying to find alternative funding sources for the tower in Janesville. Rock County officials have told them there isn't any room in the county budget.

 

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