Stennis Airport Hopes New Tower Brings More Air Cargo Business

BAY ST. LOUIS, Miss. (AP) -- Stennis International Airport officials have begun construction of a new air traffic control tower.

Officials said Friday they hope to attract more air cargo business.

Nearby, personnel loaded an Air Force C-5 Galaxy on Friday with six armored security vehicles. The vehicles were headed for Iraq. It was the third shipment from the airport of the 29,000-pound Armored Security Vehicles, which are built by Textron Marine and Land in New Orleans.

The small private planes on the runway at Stennis were dwarfed by the C-5, which is 247 feet long and 65 feet high with a wingspan of nearly 223 feet. It's big enough to carry six tour buses.

It's planes like the C-5, one of the largest aircraft manufactured in the United States, that the Stennis airport is interested in attracting.

Cargo and business air traffic at Stennis Space Center have increased. With the addition of the new tower, planes restricted to using airports with controlled airspace will be able to operate easily at Stennis International Airport, which has an 8,500-foot runway, said airport manager Bill Cotter.

''We are already shipping Armored Security Vehicles from Stennis airport directly to Iraq, and these missions and others will be made safer by the addition of the new tower,'' said Cotter.

The tower is expected to be completed before the end of the year.