FAA Control Tower
It Grew Up with Sea-Tac Airport | New Use for an Old Tower |
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It Grew Up with Sea-Tac Airport
As Sea-Tac Airport welcomed more and more passengers, airlines and flights over the years, it widened its girth and added satellites to accommodate them.
Construction of the Control Tower, 1944. Courtesy Washington State Archives, Puget Sound Branch.
The FAA Tower started life in 1947 as a pint-sized facility guiding just a handful of flights in and out each day. It also had to grow over the years. But it grew “up” from the first permanent tower of less than 100 feet in height to today’s tower soaring 233 feet (269 feet if you include the rooftop antennae) above the ground.
Opening Day, July 9, 1949. Courtesy Washington State Archives, Puget Sound Branch.top of page
The first permanent FAA tower, opened in 1949, was housed within the Airport Administration Building.
Control tower 1960s, courtesy Ron Miller
Control tower 1960s, courtesy Ron Millertop of page
Control tower, 1975
The tower had a growth spurt in early 1970s, when a new tower was superimposed on the old structure. Its added 25 feet gave it an unobstructed view of virtually the entire airport.
Control tower, 1982
Plans were already in the works for a new control tower, when the 2001 Nisqually earthquake nearly brought the tower down. Controller Brian Schimpf earned hero status as he stayed in the crumbling tower cab and guided approaching planes safely down. The controllers escaped unscathed, but the tower didn’t.
Control tower, 2001top of page
Temporary control tower at Sea-Tac, 2001. Courtesy Ron Miller.
While the badly damaged tower was repaired, a temporary tower was placed on the west side of the field – then moved to the site of Viewpoint Park and placed on two shipping containers for added height. The original tower reopened in late spring 2001.
The current FAA Tower went into full operation on April 24, 2004.
New Use for an Old Tower
The old tower took on a new role in 2006 when it reopened as a "ramp tower" controlling aircraft taxing near the terminal.
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