Destin, Fla. - The uptick in tourism and population along Florida's Panhandle is bringing additional visitors to the area, who are arriving in private or chartered aircraft like this one. With this in mind, the Okaloosa County airport authority is aiming to increase safety and reduce noise for the neighborhoods surrounding the Destin Executive Airport.
"Basically, the county came in and there were some complaints about the noise. What the county actually did, not even us so much, they came in and made a nice capital investment to make that wall a lot bigger, a lot stronger and a lot more sound proof," said Ben Humbert, Destin Executive Airport General Manager.
The noise barrier wall is located on the north end of the terminal, standing about 20 feet tall and a couple hundred feet in length to shield the houses on that end of the airport property from the noise impact.
"Even though the pilots know this is a noise sensitive environment and are trying to be good neighbors, it's just that the planes make a lot of noise," said William Smith, Chief Pilot.
Additionally, Destin will soon have it's own working air traffic control tower on the property.
"The tower will really enhance the safety to get everyone on the same page as far as the take offs and landings. The other thing it will do is, it will coordinate with Eglin, who owns the air space here. So, we will have better coordination getting our planes off and mixed in with their flow of traffic," said Smith.
Airport officials said the tower will have a positive impact on safety measures.
"That tower is going to be able to bring a lot more safe procedures for pilots and customers coming in and out of this airport. It's going to give a lot more safe procedures even for us positioning aircraft up and down the field," said Humbert.
Contractors are working to complete the airport noise barrier wall, while airport authorities say, the air traffic control tower will be ready by the fall.
In addition to accommodating charter and private flights, the Destin Executive Airport also serves as a hub for Southern Airways Express flights and as a staging area for some military practice operations.
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