Pilots say it’s time for a tower at Frederick

The time has come for a control tower at Frederick Municipal Airport (FDK), say airport manager Charles Abell and a lot of pilots at one of Maryland’s busiest airports.

The tower proposal isn’t the only thing on Abell’s wish list. Public meetings about updating the airport’s master plan have elicited discussions of additional hangars, improved ground transportation, changes to roads, and creation of an aviation-related development at one edge of the airport property. Plans already are underway to lengthen one of the two runways from 5,220 feet to 6,000 feet, Abell said.

It isn’t a done deal, though, says city planner Timothy Davis. “There are people who oppose increasing capacity,” he said.

There is a pressing need for growth, however. Increasingly, major corporations, as well as a growing number of smaller companies and private pilots, are using the airport as an alternative to Dulles (IAD) and Baltimore-Washington (BWI) international airports and Reagan National (DCA), which remains closed to general aviation. Construction giant Bechtel has a growing Frederick office and makes frequent use of FDK, but a local automobile dealer also finds it useful for travel to car auctions, while Angel Flight America uses it when ferrying patients to and from the major hospitals in the region.

Frederick lies outside the ADIZ that restricts airspace around Washington, D.C. and Baltimore. Many business and recreational fliers have moved there from smaller fields inside or closer to the ADIZ, with its strict flight rules, Abell said. In addition, Frederick County’s population is growing rapidly as developers turn bucolic farm fields into housing tracts. That growth has only added to the traffic at FDK.

According to the Maryland Aviation Administration, FDK is the third busiest general aviation airport in the state, behind only Martin State and Easton, which is also angling for a control tower.

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