- MCB Hawaii/ MCAS Kaneohe Bay
Atc Maintains Safety In The Sky
Story by LCpl Isabelo Tabanguil on 09/25/2017
Air traffic controllers (ATC) with Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Kaneohe Bay conducted training and monitored flight operations at the air traffic control tower, MCAS Kaneohe Bay, Sept. 20, 2017.
ATC's work to safely organize and regulate the flow of air traffic, and prevent collisions between aircraft.
"If you look at an airfield and see multiple planes in the sky, they all need to land at some point and typically at the same time," said MSgt. Jason Frisch, the ATC staff noncommissioned officer in charge with MCAS Kaneohe Bay. "It's up to us to make sure that those aircraft are sequenced and separated for safe landing."
Frisch said retaining information is very important for air traffic controllers.
"There's a lot of knowledge you need to obtain, a lot of studying, test taking and information that you always have keep with you," Frisch said. "Not only do you need to be proficient for your own control ability, but once you start to get qualifications, you're going to become an instructor and start teaching the next group of Marines.
Cpl. Corey Tanner, a local control tower supervisor with MCAS Kaneohe Bay, said in air traffic control certain words can change.
"There are little changes that'll happen periodically two to three times a year," Tanner said. "You have to make sure you stay up to date because you could be saying phraseology wrong."
Tanner said ATC's must also always remain vigilant in their job.
"They have to be alert and aware," Tanner said. "People get looked at annually, and they'll just get looked over the shoulder for whatever they're qualified on to make sure they're still operating everything appropriately. We have a whole list of things that we check and the second on the list is awareness. If you can't pay attention or be aware to everything that's going on around you, then you can't do your job."
Lance Cpl. Dustin Hesse, an ATC trainee with MCAS Kaneohe Bay, said multi-tasking is something ATC's have to deal with on a daily basis.
"[The most difficult thing is] probably staying focused, not letting it conflict and take too long," Hesse said. "It's almost like solving a really difficult math problem; you're always looking for a certain solution, but at the same time you're going to have different mathematical equations on the side that you have to handle."
Hesse said air traffic control provides the opportunity for new experiences.
"I like that every day there's something new you get to see," Hesse said. "We have aircraft from all the different branches: Coast Guard, Air Force with the heavy C-17 Globemaster. We even had some F-22 Raptors that did flybys last week.
Hesse said the job is fun but it could be hard to make your planning around new situations.
"These are people's lives in your hands every day," said Hesse. "So you have to make sure everything is flawless and well-coordinated for safe and expeditious flow of air traffic."