Aviation enthusiasts will have a new place to take in the sights and sounds of an active regional airport, thanks to Tacoma Narrows Airport’s new observation area.
A ribbon cutting ceremony to celebrate the new area, which will be known as the Rotary Aviation Zone, will be held from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. June 3 at the airport, 1202 26th Ave. NW in Gig Harbor.
The zone features an ADA-accessible observation tower with a front-row view of the runway, a viewing shelter and tables. Future plans include adding educational displays about aviation and the airport, additional lighting, and potentially a small mounted airplane.
“People of all ages and abilities can visit this new area to watch planes fly in and out and learn more about aviation,” said Pierce County Executive Pat McCarthy. “Tacoma Narrows Airport has so much to offer pilots, businesses and visitors, and this new amenity should inspire even more interest in aviation in Pierce County.”
The zone is a joint effort between The Rotary Club of Gig Harbor, The Friends of Tacoma Narrows Airport, and Pierce County. Funding was provided by all three organizations, while the concept and volunteer work to build the zone was handled by The Rotary Club of Gig Harbor and The Friends of Tacoma Narrows Airport.
“We love to build projects like this,” said Dick Vanberg, The Rotary Club of Gig Harbor president. “The community will use it. It involves the different skills of several members. We like to work together as it builds our friendships. And our Rotary name will be seen by so many people.”
The Rotary Club of Gig Harbor contributed approximately $25,000 toward the structures, while The Friends of Tacoma Narrows Airport contributed nearly $5,000 to the site. Pierce County contributed approximately $18,000 to pay for materials.
"I've lived near the airport for almost 25 years and loved coming over to watch planes with my kids and now grandkids,” said Roger Gruener, The Friends of Tacoma Narrows Airport vice president. “After I became a community member (not a pilot) of the Tacoma Narrows Airport Advisory Commission, I felt we needed a better area to make that viewing easier. So I started The Friends group with our first goal of building this type of structure. I'm so thankful to The Rotary Club of Gig Harbor for funding most of it, because otherwise, it would still a dream. I value this airport as a very important asset in our community.”
The observation tower and viewing shelter were designed by Jim Castino, principal at Castino Architecture, while Oliver Magnuson and Randy Barcalow served as construction managers. Brett Marlo DeSantis of Brett Marlo Designs served as the site designer.
The roofs of the observation tower and shelter were provided by Spencer Aircraft, Wayne’s Roofing, and Scott & From Co. Inc. Tacoma Narrows Aviation provided the fencing around the site.
About the ceremony
Speakers at the event include Executive McCarthy, County Councilmember Derek Young (District 7), Vanberg, Gruener, and Deb Wallace, Pierce County Public Works and Utilities’ airport and ferry administrator. Attendees should park in the airport parking lot near the control tower. The zone is located next to tower.
About Tacoma Narrows Airport
Tacoma Narrows Airport is a regional airport that is used for small business jet travel and general aviation. The airport serves businesses, recreational flying, flight instruction, medical services, the media, the military, and law enforcement. There are approximately 62,400 operations at the airport each year.
Pierce County also owns Pierce County Airport-Thun Field in Puyallup.
Deb Wallace, Public Works and Utilities airport and ferry administrator
(253) 798-7109 desk
(360) 909-8198 cell
Anne Radford, Public Works and Utilities public information officer