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HCSO Air Unit Aids Pilot Landing on Dark Runway

BROOKSVILLE – Elected officials gathered at the Brooksville-Tampa Bay Regional Airport & Technology Center Air Traffic Control Tower (BKV) this morning to honor the late Gary E. Schraut for his years of service in business development. Ironically, earlier this morning an incident involving an aircraft may have turned tragic if not for the assistance of the Sheriff's Office Air Unit.

According to officials, just after 1:00 a.m. this morning, Deputy Pilots Kling and McLaughlin were working at the Sheriff's hanger when they heard what sounded like a pilot in distress over the aviation frequency. They soon learned that a student pilot with American Aviation was attempting to land but the automated runway lights would not engage. BKV's tower is not manned 24 hours per day, so they utilize the Aircraft Radio Control of Aerodrome Lighting (ARCAL) or pilot-activated lighting (PAL) to engage runway lights at night. Basically, a pilot can engage runway lights from within the aircraft.

Officials say the air unit pilots also tried to engage the lights, but they were unsuccessful as well. In an effort to assist the pilot in landing, the air unit pilots took flight and used their "Night Sun" to illuminate the runway. The pilot was able to land safely without incident.

Airport authorities told HCSO that the runway lights were functioning properly, but sources tell R News that tower personnel most likely forgot to turn on the ARCAL system before shutting down operations at 10:00 p.m. the night before. R News spoke with the tower manager Mike McDowell who said, "We don't know anything about it. That happened when we closed."


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