Air traffic controllers train, get hands on experience
October 6, 2011
Air traffic controllers from F Company, 2nd General Support Aviation Battalion, 1st Aviation Regiment, took control of Marshall Army Airfield's flight following operations from Sept 24-27 while operating out of a single vehicle and tent near the primary Range Control building.
The Soldiers followed all air traffic in the Ft. Riley area during the time that they had control of flight following operations. Their responsibilities included making sure that ground and air personnel were aware of each other as aircraft moved to their various operational areas each day and night.
The purpose of the operation was to provide training to Soldiers who normally wouldn't have an opportunity to conduct such operations while stationed here at Fort Riley. Flight following operations are normally handled by civilian contractors from the tower at MAAF.
"The goal of this training operation these past few days is to provide training to those who have never really been exposed to the flight following aspect of Air Traffic Control," said Staff. Sgt. Patrick Kenderish, one of the air traffic control team leaders from 2-1 GSAB.
"We're out here keeping track of all the aircraft," said Spec. Chris Robinson, an air traffic control specialist with 2-1, "we're monitoring their progress and giving them all the data and information they need."
Additionally the unit used this mission to get four of their Soldiers "facility rated" on the ANSQ-221 Tactical Airspace Integration System, a system that allows air traffic controllers to be mobile. Having Soldiers with this training allows the unit to be more flexible, and it will allow them to better support upcoming operations.
In the near future the unit will be conducting flight following operations at Fort Bliss, Texas, a mission that is uncommon for the unit.
"It's one of the first times that we've been called on for anything remotely like this (upcoming) mission, to provide this type of service," Kenderish said.
The air traffic controllers ended their mission on Sept. 27, handing control of flight following operations back to the MAAF control tower once the day had ended.