As Velocity173 says: The control tower is ONE of the air traffic control facilities that a pilot will talk to. Normally, the tower is the facility the pilot will talk to immediately before landing or taking off. The tower controllers "own" the runway. The tower is generally named after the facility, shortened if necessary, for example: "LaGuardia Tower" "Executive Tower" edit: In normal conversation, it's usually just referred to as "tower". "Yesterday I was minding my own business, then tower called about something." "Here's a phone number, call tower."