May 3, 2012

MCAS Yuma says farewell to old Air Traffic Control Tower comes down

Lance Cpl. Bill Waterstreet
Desert Warrior Staff
Photos by  Lance Cpl. Bill Waterstreet

The old air traffic control tower, which has long stood companion to base operations, is soon to exist only as a memory.

The red and white Marine Corps Air Station Yuma ATC tower has been condemned, and it is currently being taken down.

Deconstruction work on the tower began in early March and is scheduled to be completed May 31.

It’s being removed because it is obsolete, no longer needed and an obstruction to the view of the other tower, said Gregory M. McShane, the airfield operations officer. This deconstruction operation will end up costing the station $529,658.

Since the 1950’s, the tower has stood at roughly 125 feet tall, and has been a landmark on MCAS Yuma.

It would direct upwards of 300 operations on a busy day in its prime, added Paul Edwards, an air traffic control tower supervisor. It even facilitating the takeoff and landing of multiple commandants and President George W. Bush.

“Everybody’s got stories about it,” said Edwards. “I remember when I was a young lance corporal, they sent me outside to clean the windows, and I am a little hesitant of heights. The catwalk over there was a closer and the railing a little smaller than here. It was nearly impossible to clean those windows.”

The new ATC tower, located on the northwest side of the airfield has been directing air traffic for the past six years, starting when the old tower ended its service. The removal of the old tower was delayed until now due to funding concerns.

The new tower is taller, standing at 163 feet. It was built to accommodate a larger capacity of Marines and personnel than its predecessor, and has the space to run numerous training exercises along with the daily operations of the air station and the Yuma International Airport.

Nothing is currently being planned to be built in place of the old tower.

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