Bend▶️ Bend Municipal Airport receives $4.8 million for control tower

▶️ Bend Municipal Airport receives $4.8 million for control tower

▶️ Bend Municipal Airport receives $4.8 million for control tower

Standing on the heather grey tarmac, I could hear crackling through the Bend Municipal Airport manager, Tracy Williams’, walkie talkie; there was an incident.

A plane spun out on the tarmac, forcing an arriving flight to circle around and wait to land.

“We have quite a few near misses throughout the year and so far we’ve been blessed to not have any accidents,” said Nelson Carrick, the Regional Manager for Leading Edge Jet Center, a company that works through the Bend Airport.

All of the communication to both planes was done entirely through walkie-talkies and boots on the ground, something an airport control tower could make safer.

“A tower would really add to safety,” Carrick said “It’s amazing to me that we haven’t had a terrible mishap.”

Bend has the third most visited airport in the state, only below Portland and Hillsborough.

As Bend grows, Connect Oregon granted $4.8 million to the Bend Municipal Airport for construction on an airport traffic control tower.

The tower is expected to stand 80 to 100 feet tall at the edge of the 420 acre airport.

“Being a municipality, we have to be out front and design and prepare for that growth,” said Tracy Williams, the Airport Manager “If we wait for the demand to occur, then we’re too late.”

The airport began the process to get a tower after entering the Federal Contract Tower Program to design and construct a control tower within 5 years.

More funds are needed, with the Connect Oregon grant covering a portion of the $7.5 million budget.

“However, with the pandemic and supply chain issues we’re anticipating that number is going to grow and has grown over the last year at about 25%,” Williams said.

With 141,000 takeoffs and landings per year, almost double that of the Redmond Airport, Bend Municipal Airport wants more eyes in the sky as more people wish to fly.

“There really hasn’t been any kind of growth to address the corporate needs here,” Carrick said “There’s a lot of corporate aircraft moving in here now.”

“We are growing at least 10-20% in terms of traffic each year,” Williams said.

If you want to see more for yourself, the Bend Municipal Airport is holding an open house this upcoming Monday from 5p.m. to 7p.m. at the airport café.

Airport staff will present upcoming projects like the control tower and other ideas to improve the travel experience to and from the High Desert.

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