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Mid Air Collision at Contracted Out Tower - (10/20/1997)

Mid Air Collision at Contracted Out Tower LONGVIEW, Tex. - Two small planes collided in mid air Oct. 19 at Tyler Pounds Field, causing emergency landings of both, according to the National Air Traffic Controllers Association. A manager employed by RVA, Inc. - a private contractor - with only a few weeks' basic training and no air traffic controller experience was directing air traffic at the time. As manager, he also declined drug testing after the incident, deeming it unnecessary. This is the second collision of airplanes at contracted out towers within three months. The other at Meigs Field in Chicago resulted in seven deaths. A Piper Aerostar twin engine propeller and a Cessna 150 single engine propeller plane crashed into each other approximately 1,000 feet off the ground yesterday at 5:05 p.m., according to Mike Wiggins, acting NATCA facility representative at the Federal Aviation Administration's Longview facility. "There are three runways at Tyler," Wiggins said. "The Aerostar was landing on one and the Cessna departed on another. The Cessna turned into the Aerostar about two miles out from the air field. The Cessna sheared off part of the Aerostar's vertical stabilizer and rudder. When the Cessna landed, it blew out a front tire and had a cracked wheel, which may have occurred as the planes hit in mid air." Tyler tower handles visual takeoffs and landings of planes, including business, recreational and commercial aircraft. Controllers at Longview are responsible for the airspace above 2,200 feet to 5,000 feet and beyond five miles of Tyler Pounds Field.

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