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Budget Cuts Threaten To Shut Down Six Area Airport Control Towers

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The airport control tower at Frederick Municipal Airport is one of six in the area that would be closed due to budget cuts.
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The airport control tower at Frederick Municipal Airport is one of six in the area that would be closed due to budget cuts.

The scheduled closing of six airport control towers in Maryland and Virginia due to forced federal spending cuts threatens to put many air traffic controllers on the unemployment line.

Todd Kirkpatrick is an air traffic controller at the Municipal Airport in Frederick, Md. The control tower he works in, which just opened in May of last year, is one of 149 control towers scheduled to close because of sequestration. Kirkpatrick, who relocated here from South Carolina, says news about the possible closure began to surface about a month ago.

"My initial reaction was frustration, anger, disappointment in the government not being able to do the right thing," Kirkpatrick says. "I mean, instead of paying me my money from the FAA, I'm just going to go over here and step in the unemployment line. So I think they're just not doing things in the best interest of the country."

Joshua Largent is also in danger of losing his job in the tower. Largent says that although he supports federal spending cuts, closing towers like the one in Frederick, makes no sense.

"I have goosebumps, I'm so mad right now; it's unbelievable," Largent says. "Were they BS-ing us in 2010 when they said they spent $5.3 million to put this tower here for a safety issue, or were they BS-ing now when they say it's not a safety issue anymore?"

Last weekend, the U.S. Senate passed an amendment that would restore federal funding for the threatened control towers. The measure faces a vote in the House when lawmakers return from Easter recess.

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