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May 06, 2015 // Facility Spotlight: Portland Tower (PDX)

Commissioned in January of 2000, PDX is a level eight facility with 28 NATCA members. It works with several other facilities including Portland TRACON, Hillsboro Tower, and Troutdale Federal Contract Tower.

PDX works several different types of aircraft, according to FacRep Richard Kennington.

“Portland has a little of everything,” he says. “We work small aircraft conducting flight training, to heavy airliners/cargo. The Oregon Air National Guard has a wing of F15 aircraft on the field and Boeing also paints their heavy B777 aircraft at PDX.”

There are several things about the location and history of PDX that set it apart from other facilities.

“Portland has a unique situation,” says Kennington. “We have a satellite airport two miles away called Pearson Field that is the oldest continuously operated airport in the world and the landing site of the first transpolar flight, among other firsts. The airport has a lot of historical importance but is not in accordance with airspace standards. It lies directly under the final approach course to PDX but, due to its proximity, it is Class D airspace with no control tower. So Portland Tower controls the airspace but not the runway.”

Going beyond the actual facility, PDX is set apart by the unique culture of Portland.

“Have you ever heard the slogan ‘Keep Portland Weird’?” asks Kennington. “It’s a real thing. We have made national news because PDX is changing the carpet in the terminal. Yes, you read that right, the carpet. It has become so iconic that people are getting tattoos with the carpet pattern, developing a clothing line with the pattern, and buying sections of the carpet to make handbags and other items. There are three twitter accounts dedicated to it.”

“A facility’s identity isn’t the building in which we work but rather the people who work in it,” adds Kennington. “As FacRep, I am proud of the members who make up our identity at Portland Tower, and it’s an honor to represent them.”