- Associated Press - Saturday, January 2, 2016

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) - Cape Canaveral’s historic lighthouse is reopening to tourists starting Friday thanks to cooperation between the Air Force and a foundation devoted to preservation of the lighthouse.

Florida Today (https://on.flatoday.com/1OzZPRO ) reports that the pre-Civil War lighthouse had been closed to tourists because of budget cuts and security issues.

A partnership between the Cape Canaveral Lighthouse Foundation and the 45th Space Wing at Patrick Air Force Base has allowed the lighthouse to reopen for bus tours on Fridays and Saturdays. The three-hour tours will cost $27.

The 151-foot tall lighthouse is the only fully operational lighthouse owned and operated by the Air Force.

For years the Air Force offered the tours using its own buses and volunteer tour guides. The free tours showcased the mission of the 45th Space Wing and focused on the Air Force space program, with visits to several launch complexes, the Air Force Space and Missile Museum and the Cape Canaveral Lighthouse.

The tours were stopped after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and then reinstated only to be eliminated in 2013 because of budget cuts.

Brig. Gen. Wayne Monteith, commander of the 45th Space Wing, Patrick Air Force Base, said in a statement that there has always been interest by the public to visit the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station Lighthouse, which is why the wing entered into a partnership with the foundation. The foundation provides the tours, and the wing provides the access.

“A lack of access to the lighthouse due to the national threat condition was brought to my attention my very first day in command and I promised to do what I could to reopen access to our historic sites while still ensuring the security of the base and our people,” Monteith said. ”I’m happy to say that our team, working hand-in-hand with the Cape Canaveral Lighthouse Foundation and NASA, allowed me to keep that promise.”

Visitors will also have access to Cape Canaveral Air Force Station through Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex tours.

“Additionally, we have partnered with NASA’s Delaware North contractor to provide historic CCAFS tours as a way to allow access to historic sites for folks from around the world who can see where space history began and continues today,” Monteith said.

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Information from: Florida Today (Melbourne, Fla.), https://www.floridatoday.com


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