Wittman Regional Airport looks to future

The control tower at Wittman Airport in Oshkosh is seen, March 22, 2013.
The control tower at Wittman Airport in Oshkosh is seen, March 22, 2013.

OSHKOSH - Change is in the air at the Wittman Regional Airport in Oshkosh.  There's good news from the federal government and plans for the future are coming together.

After standing since 1946, the Wittman Regional Airport's East T-Hangars have been demolished.  Airport director Peter Moll told FOX 11 it's a bittersweet step.

"We wish that hangars could talk, because the airplanes could probably tell stories we've never heard.  But, you know, they served their purpose and we're at the point now where we needed to take them down," Moll explained.

According to Moll the hangars had fallen into disrepair.

"About 70% of the hangars weren't even workable anymore," Moll said.

Now Moll told us the plan is to start building new hangar space on the east side.  He said work will likely start next year and cost between $100,000 and $250,000.

Moll said there are about 15 customers on a waiting list for hangar space at Wittman right now.

"We're trying to stay one step ahead.  That would bring us closer to getting more revenue, making the airport more viable," said Moll.

Moll told us it's particularly exciting to think about the future now that the federal government has agreed to pay for the airport's control tower, through the end of September, anyway.

Tim Brooks at Orion Flight Services told FOX 11 it's good news for business.  Orion brings in a lot of corporate customers.

"They'll make their decisions on where they wanna base their operations just off if there is a tower on the field.  So that is really important to us," Brooks explained.

But the temporary nature of the funding worries Brooks.

"We're very concerned that this tower is funded.  It brings money in, not only to us, but the whole area," Brooks said.

Moll told us he's concerned too, saying this is a matter of safety.

"The variation of aircraft that come in here too.  We wanna keep everybody safe coming in here," said Moll.

Last spring, the federal government threatened to shutdown 250 airport control towers nationwide, including Wittman's, to save money.  That did not happen.

In the latest budget agreement, the FAA was given $140-million to keep those towers running through September 30th.