245th Air Traffic Control Squadron sets up mobile tower at Shaw AFB
By Tech. Sgt. Caycee Watson, 169th FW/PA
/ Published June 17, 2013
MCENTIRE JOINT NATIONAL GUARD BASE, South Carolina -- Exercises, practices, preparations and inspections are not wasted efforts for the South Carolina Air National Guard's 245th Air Traffic Control Squadron.
The 245th ATCS packed up their mobile air traffic control tower and set up operations below Shaw Air Force Base's control tower earlier in June. Their job is to support the flying mission while the Shaw AFB control tower undergoes building renovations.
"The mobile tower helps us continue the mission by simultaneously enabling us to do our job and complete a much needed tower renovation," said Tech. Sgt. Keith Wilbur from Fayetteville, N.C., the air traffic control watch supervisor with the 20th Operations Support Squadron at Shaw AFB. "Months went into planning and coordinating with McEntire to bring the mobile tower to Shaw before the renovations began."
The 245th ATCS is proud to step in and help their active-duty neighbors so they can continue to launch and recover aircraft. However, the benefit of the mobile tower operations goes farther than this obvious mission objective.
"Shaw didn't have any other viable option that would save funds," said Tech. Sgt. David Kaylor, an air traffic controller with the 245th ATCS.
Because of the short distance between Shaw AFB and McEntire Joint National Guard Base, the SCANG's ability to set up their mobile tower and train Shaw AFB personnel on its operation, saved the government costly temporary duty funds.
"We were able to provide a seamless transition for them. From working in their tower to coming down here and working out of the mobile tower, there were a few minor hiccups but everything was fixed quickly and accurately. They are operating at 100 percent in the mobile tower now," said Kaylor.
The training opportunity for the guardsmen is another bonus that isn't overlooked. The 245th ATCS trains its members almost monthly, but this mission at Shaw AFB puts them in a real-life situation, instead of a simulated environment. That is what newly assigned 245th ATCS Airman James Perkins is taking from his experience.
"I'm getting valuable hands-on experience and get to see how others operate. It's good to learn in a different environment," said Perkins. "Tasks I could do at McEntire in a simulated scenario, I'm getting real experience with here, because they actually need them done in order to operate outside of their tower."
"No other unit trains, operates and maintains with the mobile tower as much as we do. And we have Operational Readiness Exercise and inspection results to back up my claims," said Senior Master Sgt. Marvin Bradford, 245th ATCS superintendent of airfield systems support.
"There are about 15-16 MSN-7 mobile towers owned by the Air Force," said Bradford. "The 245th ATCS is the only unit utilizing the mobile tower at this time and we're proud to support the active duty mission here at Shaw."
The 245th ATCS is providing highly trained and motivated maintenance personnel that will maintain the system while it is at Shaw AFB. They are also able to train Shaw AFB controllers on the use of the mobile tower. Because of the mobile tower's presence at Shaw AFB, there hasn't been any interruption to air traffic control services.
"The folks here are very grateful for our support. I've been thanked personally from the senior noncommissioned officers, air traffic control officers and the 20th Operations Support Squadron commander himself, for supporting their mission and having a highly reliable mobile tower system," boasted Bradford.
The mission statement of the 245th ATCS is, "to provide safe and effective world-wide ready air traffic services, utilizing highly qualified personnel and cutting-edge technology." This Swamp Fox team is doing just that and anticipates aiding Shaw AFB until the end of July.