History was made at Tinker Air Force Base as a new state of the art air traffic control tower officially begins operations.
A ribbon cutting ceremony was held Wednesday afternoon for the 140 ft. tall, approximately $15 million project which began a decade ago.
Tinker Air Force Base officials were present for the ceremony, as were Del City and Midwest City’s mayors, Senator Brenda Stanley and a representative from U.S. Senator Jim Inhofe’s office.
“It’s been going for a while, there has been some unforeseen delays,” said Lt. Col. Dave Friedel, Commander of the 72nd Operations Support Squadron. “We are just happy to have this state-of-the-art facility today.”
A new tower brings the latest technology for a growing amount of traffic with the recent addition of the KC-46.
A new state of the art simulator downstairs connected to the tower will get students ready for the real thing.
“It’s incorporating all of the latest state of the art equipment and life support equipment, fire safety, all of the newest and best things that are available, come together here in this facility,” said Friedel.
Tinker’s former control tower is one of the oldest in the Air Force. The power has been turned off to the 110 ft. tall structure which will soon be demolished after 50 years of service.
Airmen sure could tell the old tower was aging.
“The wind limits on the old tower were actually very low,” said Friedel. “The controllers would have to depart the tower if we got over 40 and 50 miles per hour. We’re now able to stay in over 120 miles an hour.”
It may not be immediately visible to the public, but airmen here hope you’re just as proud as they are that the best tools are now in place to ensure those who serve our country land back in it safely.
“It’s got a lot more room, the controllers can spread out to do their job better in interacting with each other and gives us room for growth,” said Friedel.
At least five air traffic controllers work at a time inside the tower which is staffed 24/7.
Operations began at the new tower last month, but at a limited capacity. Tinker officials said the new tower will be fully operational soon.