12281629469?profile=RESIZE_710xA Boca Raton elevated flight observation area with seating for 12 should be completed by spring. Rendering provided

By Rich Pollack

It’s been almost 120 years since the Wright brothers’ historic flight at Kitty Hawk, yet there’s still something special about watching an airplane take off.

“People have just always been fascinated with flight,” says Scott Kohut, deputy director of the Boca Raton Airport Authority, which oversees the airport and its average 200 flights a day.

If all goes well, residents of south Palm Beach County will soon have a comfortable spot where they can take in the sights and sounds of everything from larger charter jets to two-seat propeller planes rolling down the runway.

Plans for a covered observation area on the west side of the airport are taking flight with construction to begin soon and completion planned for early spring.

The 4-foot-high elevated observation area, on public property separated from the actual airport by a chain-link fence, will have three benches and seating for about 12 people, with public parking spaces just a few feet away.

Visitors will also be able to eavesdrop on conversations between pilots and the control tower, which will be broadcast to the area.

Located in an area next to the Airport Authority’s offices just north of Florida Atlantic University’s main campus, the observation deck will include educational signage about the airport’s history as well as about the native species visitors might see while watching aircraft take off and land.

The airport and the surrounding area are home to a variety of plants and animals including gopher tortoises, burrowing owls and other birds, according to Kohut.

Without an observation deck, people wishing to see the aircraft come and go can only peer though the fence on both sides of the airport, something Kohut says is not uncommon.

“We have a large variety of aircraft here,” he said, adding that over the years Marine One with then-President Barack Obama onboard landed at the airport, as did former President Donald Trump’s helicopter.

The observation deck project, Kohut said, is expected to cost in the neighborhood of $900,000, with the Florida Department of Transportation covering the majority of the expense.

Kohut said that both he and Clara Bennett, the Airport Authority’s executive director, came from Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport — which has a popular observation area — and wanted to bring the concept to Boca Raton.

“We saw this as a great opportunity to continue bringing members of the community to the airport,” he said.

 

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