OSH Tower Waste Is Tragic
Since I'm sure I'm not the only one who thought of it, I will only take part of the blame for the tragic waste that is the pile of rubble in some landfill near Oshkosh that was once the air traffic control tower at Wittman Regional Airport.
Oh, by the way, I'm not one of those who thought the tower should stay as some kind of hostel or offices or anything like that. It had served well for decades but outlived its usefulness for the two weeks that is so important to the airport. The new tower is a beautiful tribute by the FAA to the importance of AirVenture and it was undoubtedly needed.
No, I was 100 percent behind the absolute pulverization of the iconic building.
What I hate is that it was hauled to the dump like last week's trash. With only a tiny amount of imagination, something even I can muster, that building would have been a fundraising gold mine. How much would you pay for a souvenir brick? How about incorporating one of those giant pieces of glass into your house to frame your favorite view? Who knows what was left behind by the FAA that could have been a funky piece of memorabilia for someone for a good price?
And where could all this money have gone? How about Alan Henley's family? The family of leader of the Aeroshell team, injured in an accident at home last year, could certainly use it. EAA has plenty of good places it could go, like Young Eagles programs. Scholarships, grants to aviation projects, the list is long and important.
EAA Communications Director Dick Knapinski will vouch that I mentioned the idea more than a year ago when the new tower was nearing completion. I suggested a joint promotion that I'm convinced would have had people lining up for bricks and other pieces of the tower and he agreed. He told me at last year's AirVenture that the contractor that built the new tower, and assumed ownership of the old one, was not interested in making the demolition material available. EAA asked and was turned down.
I'm sure there were liability concerns, money issues and any number of things that modern, efficient companies have to consider before they make a move. I can hardly blame them but I also think that the special nature of this building and the opportunity its demise represented could have resulted in a wonderful recycling project that would have benefitted thousands. I also think it could have been done safely and in a way that didn't cost the contractor a dime.
And I'm sorry I didn't press harder to make it happen.