Miami Lakes Mayor Heads to DC Hoping to Stave Off Budget Cuts

Michael Pizzi has several thousand letters and emails from residents who are worried about the future of the tower at Opa-Locka Executive Airport.

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Michael Pizzi has several thousand letters and emails from residents who are worried about the future of the tower at Opa-Locka Executive Airport.

    The mayor of Miami Lakes is headed to Washington on Wednesday with hopes of staving off sequester budget cuts that would shutter an air traffic control tower near his town.

    Michael Pizzi has several thousand letters and emails from residents who are worried about the future of the tower at Opa-Locka Executive Airport.

    Pizzi will deliver his constituents' concerns to the Federal Aviation Administration officials.

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    The flight path for Opa-Locka takes planes directly over residential neighborhoods in Miami Lakes.

    "There is a serious concern that if those flights overshoot the tower and are not controlled, they could land on a school or church or home in Miami Lakes, we will not let that happen," Pizzi said.

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    While he fears for his residents, Tony Saavedra fears for his job.

    He's one of eight air traffic controllers who man the aviation tower at North Perry Airport in Pembroke Pines.

    The tower there is also on the sequester chopping block, and if shuttered, Saavedra predicts the worst.

    "It would be pretty much chaos.  They have some plans, ideas in mind what they could do ... but still we have a lot of training airplanes here," said Saavedra.

    Pilots rely on air traffic controllers to keep them away from other planes, and without those controllers those pilots are forced to rely on their radios and their eyes to help them land and take off safely.

    Both airports are robust economic engines in their respective communities.

    Advertising banner companies, flight schools and private planes operate out of the airports.

    Without a working tower officials say flights, and business would see a slowdown.

    "Their actions and endangering the lives of average citizens, and it's wrong and they need to straighten up and fly right," said Pizzi.

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