Thanks to the work of AOPA and Airport Support Network volunteer Jack Tunstill, pilot-controlled lighting may soon be a reality for Runway 6/24 at St. Petersburg's (Florida) Albert Whitted Airport. In response to concerns from AOPA, the FAA sent a letter last week to city officials, urging the installation of pilot-controlled lighting for use when the air traffic control tower is closed for the evening.
In the letter, the FAA informs city officials that failure to install the lighting would place the airport in non-compliance with federal grant money accepted through the airport improvement program. In 2001, federal funds were given to the city of St. Petersburg to be used specifically for the rehabilitation of the Runway 6/24 lighting system.
AOPA and ASN volunteer Tunstill are actively engaged in a long battle to keep Albert Whitted open. The city council supports the airport, but the mayor has proposed closing Runway 6/24, developing that property and lengthening Runway 18/36.
AOPA stressed safety concerns in a letter to members of the St. Petersburg City Council. "Both runways are necessary to provide desired wind coverage as indicated on the current FAA-approved Airport Layout Plan," the letter said. "We are strongly opposed to the closing of Runway 6/24. Doing so will have drastic effects on the safety, efficiency, and utilization of the airport by AOPA members and the rest of the flying public."
"We are pleased the FAA continues to enhance the safety and viability of this important airport," said AOPA Vice President of Airports Anne Esposito. "Albert Whitted Airport is truly a gem, and the hard work of our Airport Support Network volunteer is allowing AOPA to make that point to the FAA and to the city of St. Petersburg."