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FAA to Close McKellar-Sipes Tower on April 7

By Cyndi Lundeberg
By clundeberg@wbbjtv.com

MADISON COUNTY, Tenn. - In just a few weeks, close to 200 airport traffic control towers around the county will close. One of the affected airports is McKellar-Sipes Regional Airport in West Madison County.

Jan Terrell said her loved ones use McKellar-Sipes every weekend to attend school in the area. She said she does not believe changes will be made until something horrible happens.

"Why does it have to happen to anybody to be changed? Our society is just like that," she said.

Terrell is not the only person worried about the closing of the towers. Kansas Senator Jerry Moran spoke out about closings, Friday saying "Closing towers is equivalent to removing stop lights and stop signs from our roads".

"It puts more danger when you've got nobody controlling the traffic in the air. Golly, they're liable to collide," Terrell said.

The FAA said it needs to cut $600 million from its annual budget and because the majority of its employees are air traffic controllers they could not cut without them being affected. The tower at McKellar-Sipes is funded by the government and was put to use in 1995. In total, five jobs will be lost at McKellar-Sipes.

"It's a little sad for the community ," Nathan Grimm a McKellar-Sipes traveler said.

Local Pilots said the message the FAA Is sending is clear, spending cannot be cut without severe consequences and ultimately travelers well being.

Rebekah Sunday said flying without an air traffic control tower makes her feel a little less safe.

"When you're flying you wanna feel safe as possible. This definitely makes it feel a little more dangerous," she said.

The tower closings will effect the at least 30 flights a day McKellar-Sipes sees. The effects will begin April 7.
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