All Along the Control Tower

Take a look inside the original control tower at Greater PIT

By BlueSkyStaff

Published January 6, 2020

Read Time: 2 mins


In March 1985, a new air traffic control tower opened at the former Greater Pittsburgh International Airport terminal, becoming the tallest control tower in the country at the time. Today, the same 227-foot tower controls air traffic for Pittsburgh International Airport.

A photo from November 1982 shows construction of what would be the tallest FAA tower at the time. (Photo by Allegheny County Department of Aviation)

But where was air traffic controlled before then?

The Greater Pittsburgh International Airport terminal opened in 1952, and its original air traffic control tower was located on top of the highest point of the old terminal, above the airport’s rotunda area.

The photo below, taken inside the original Greater PIT control tower, overlooks the airfield.

Light guns are visible above the air traffic controllers in the photo. Technology that still exists in air traffic towers today, light guns can be used to guide pilots as they maneuver their aircraft on the ground in cases of radio transmission failures, among other situations.

A photo of the original air traffic control tower at Great Pittsburgh Airport, taken sometime between 1952 and the early 1960s. (Photo taken by the Allegheny County Department of Aviation)

The original tower oversaw air traffic for Greater PIT until the new tower opened across the airfield in 1985. Planning and construction for the new, 20-story tower that stands as Pittsburgh International’s FAA tower today took about four years.

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