Controllers handle influx of planes at Page Field due to Hurricane Dorian
Hurricane Dorian is causing many problems for owners of private planes along the east coast of Florida. The owners are now forced to fly and store their aircraft at places like Page Field in Fort Myers. As you can imagine, it is keeping the air traffic control tower on alert.
Robert Schultz, an air traffic control manager at Page Field, guides dozens of pilots coming from the east coast in and out of Southwest Florida as they work to stay away from Dorian’s wrath.
“With winds and vortexes and that,” Schultz said, “you don’t want anyone going near a thunderstorm – it’ll tear the plane apart.”
Right now, the winds are pretty light at Page Field, but the air traffic controllers told WINK News once the winds get up around 50 mph, they start thinking about shutting down the runway.
Schultz said they provide space for planes regardless if the pilot is landing or leaving. Effectively, Schultz is keeping these pilots safe as Hurricane Dorian nears the east coast of Florida.
Pilots, like Matthew Woomer, said they are grateful for the air traffic controllers’ watchful eyes.
“They’re kind of the unsung heroes in the whole situation,” Woomer said.
Woomer considered moving his plane from Page Field ahead of the storm, but he opted to stay put once the track changed. He said they double-tied his plane to keep it secure, saving him from asking. There are three dozen additional planes at Page Field due to the storm.
“It’s good to see that our planes won’t be damaged and the airport won’t be damaged,” Woomer said.
With hurricane season continuing through November, these pilots and air traffic controllers will be keeping a close eye on the tropics. As they work from 7 a.m. till 10 p.m., the air traffic controllers are in position each day of the year as seasonal threats change.
“You never know,” Woomer said. “You plan for the worst and hope for the best.”
If you want to donate to the humanitarian mission the pilots are organizing, access this link to their Facebook page or bring them to 605 Danley at the General Aviation Center at Page Field before 8 p.m. on Tuesday.