Fittingly, the remarks at the opening of the new observation tower Wednesday at the Tacoma Narrows Airport were interrupted by the sound of propellers and jet engines.
The new Rotary Aviation Zone sits adjacent to the runway at the airport. The wooden ADA-accessible tower and picnic area offers aviation enthusiasts a place to watch the planes go by.
With a varied roster of traffic, there’s always something new to see.
“You may get to see a business jet on one visit and a Coast Guard helicopter on another,” Pierce County Executive Pat McCarthy said.
In June, onlookers are on high alert for famous golfers as the airport becomes home to private jets stopping in town for the U.S. Open golf tournament.
About 75 to 90 aircraft will be in the Puget Sound airspace per day during the tournament. That traffic will be split between Boeing Field and the Tacoma Narrows Airport.
There’s more work to go on the observation area. There are future plans for more lighting, educational signage and a small display plane, said Pierce County Councilman Derek Young.
Young, a lifelong resident of Gig Harbor, spoke about his life growing up near the airport. Although he grew up nearby, he said he felt a disconnect between the airport and the city. Young thanked the Rotary and the Friends of the Tacoma Narrows Airport for their time, funding and effort to make the airport accessible to all.
“It’s projects like this that will connect the community a little more to the airport,” he said. “Without folks that support this airport, things like this can’t happen.”
The Rotary Aviation Zone is a joint-effort of the Rotary Club of Gig Harbor, Pierce County and the Friends of the Tacoma Narrows Airport.
The Rotary Club gave $25,000 as well as volunteer time to build the aviation zone.
“The idea was only an idea until the Rotary came along,” said Roger Gruener, vice president of the Friends of the Tacoma Narrows Airport.
The site was designed by Brett Marlo DeSantis of Brett Marlo Designs. The tower and shelter were designed by Jim Castino of Castino Architecture.