Michigan Fly-In Told To Expect Bill For ATC

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Organizers of a small but growing fly-in at Alleghan Airport, near Grand Rapids, Mich., say the FAA intends to charge them $3,200 to set up and staff a temporary tower for their event in late June. Andy Millin, one of the organizers of the West Michigan Fly-In, told AVweb this week that, barring a change of heart from the feds, his group will scrape together the money because they believe the tower is essential to the safe running of the event. "We're not willing to take the chance," Millin said. But by writing that check, Millin said he understands the watershed precedent the group will be setting. "The tower is clearly a safety measure and is well within the mandate of the FAA," Millin said. "We would like to refuse the payment as we feel this is the service the FAA is supposed to be there for. However, this is a genuine safety consideration and we just can't roll the dice on this one." The fly-in was started five years ago following a wake-up call delivered by the local civic government, which had apparently been trying to secretly sell the airport land. The local EAA chapter and other groups organized the event to boost interest in the airport and protect its future. There are static displays, sightseeing flights and a car show, and up to 300 Young Eagles flights are launched. With up to 500 operations in a five-hour period, including up to 120 visiting aircraft, the tower is regarded as a necessity. As a bonus, most of the controllers working the fly-in have Oshkosh experience and the procedures established draw heavily on that expertise.