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Critics Look at Boca Raton Crash

June 24, 2000

BOCA RATON, Fla. (AP) _ A collision between two aircraft that left four people dead might have been avoided if a control tower proposed for Boca Raton Airport had been built, critics said.

Construction of a $250,000 tower has been delayed because of a contractor’s bankruptcy and squabbles between the airport management and federal authorities.

The crash Friday between a Learjet and a stunt plane scattered debris across a golf course and the country club community of Boca Grove Plantation. No one on the ground was injured.

``The airport authority has been squandering money on legal fees when they should have been moving ahead on this tower a long time ago,″ said Boca Raton Councilman Dave Freudenberg. A part-time pilot, he said he came within 100 feet of a jet in his small plane in 1996.

Airport spokeswoman Diane Gullo told The Palm Beach Post that the tower is being built ``for safety (but) there’s still midair collisions at airports that have towers.″

With no tower, pilots must rely on visual and radio contact with other planes. The National Transportation Safety Board is trying to determine from flight recorders whether the two planes that collided Friday were even aware of each other’s presence.

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