HomeNewsArticle Display

Airmen conduct historic mission to Virgin Islands following Irma

Members of the 14th and 15th Airlift Squadrons transported a Federal Aviation Administration air traffic control mobile tower from Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho, to the Cyril E. King Airport in St. Thomas, Virgin Islands, Sept. 12.

Members of the 14th and 15th Airlift Squadrons transported a Federal Aviation Administration air traffic control mobile tower from Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho, to the Cyril E. King Airport in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, Sept. 12, 2017. The mobile ATC tower was sent in response to Hurricane Irma to assist St. Thomas officials in conducting 24 hour airfield operations for civilian and military aircraft. (Courtesy Photo)

The first C-17 Globemaster III aircrew returns to the JB Charleston, S.C. flightline on Sept. 13 after the Hurricane Irma evacuation order was rescinded.

The first C-17 Globemaster III aircraft returns to Joint Base Charleston, S.C., Sept. 13, 2017, after the Hurricane Irma evacuation order was rescinded. This aircrew consisted of members of the 14th and 15th Airlift Squadrons and transported a Federal Aviation Administration air traffic control mobile tower from Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho, to the Cyril E. King Airport in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Thomas T. Charlton)

JOINT BASE CHARLESTON, S.C. (AFNS) --

Members of the 14th and 15th Airlift Squadrons delivered a Federal Aviation Administration air traffic control mobile tower from Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho, to the Cyril E. King Airport in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, Sept. 12, 2017.

The mobile ATC tower was sent in response to Hurricane Irma to assist St. Thomas officials in conducting 24 hour airfield operations for civilian and military aircraft.

“Captain (Patrick) Murphy and I were originally on an airdrop training operation in Eglin Air Force Base, (Florida) when Joint Base Charleston evacuated in response to Hurricane Irma,” said Capt. Kyle Curry, 14th AS pilot. “The evacuation order caused us to fly to Travis Air Force Base (California) to wait for the hurricane to pass. While there, we were tasked to help deliver an ATC tower to St. Thomas with Captain (Scott) Szalejko, and Lt. Col. (Jeremy) Jones.”

Curry and Murphy, also a 14th AS pilot, flew together with Szalejko and Jones, both 15th AS pilots to accomplish the mission. Interestingly, the tower is the only mobile ATC tower in the world and the flight was the first time an ATC tower had been delivered by a military aircraft.

“I got a call a couple days ago asking me to figure how to get a mobile ATC tower from Mountain Home AFB to St. Thomas,” said John Buchanan, 60th Aerial Port Squadron, civilian operations manager at Travis AFB. “We had to work with (Northern Command), FAA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and North American Aerospace Defense to get this tower delivered, and we got it all figured out in 24 hours.”

Buchanan and his team had to figure out how to load the tower into the aircraft since it had never been done before. Members of the 366th Logistics Readiness Squadron, Mountain Home AFB, also did some additional training to ensure the tower was safely loaded.

“We had to get Air Transportability Test Loading Activity certified so we could be qualified to help move and load the ATC tower when the aircrew got here,” said Master Sgt. Donald Ray, 366th LRS superintendent. “The tower is actually from Boise, Idaho’s FAA department and we had to use their specific truck to transfer and load the tower so it could get to its final destination.”

The tower was needed because Hurricane Irma critically damaged the Cyril E. King Airport. Air traffic controllers were being brought in from Puerto Rico to assist. Delivering the tower allowed airport operations to resume and helped provide an extra level of support to those affected by the hurricane.

This mission was unique because several squadrons and bases came together to provide command and control to a location severely battered by Hurricane Irma, said Lt. Col Adam Bingham, 14th AS commander. 

“The mission also shows you how you can mix two squadrons together and accomplish great feats,” Bingham added. “Military service members care deeply about the American population, and missions like this reinforce our passion for serving them."

Engage

Facebook Twitter
#Airmen at @CannonAFB_ rolled out a new smart toolkit to help improve productivity and overall efficiency for work… https://t.co/DFsNQqVDz8
As America’s top cover, ICBM operators have the Specialty Code of 13N, allowing #USAF to recognize these profession… https://t.co/G6aNX0FSLI
RT @USAFCENT: INTEROPERABILITY | A Royal Australian Air Force KC-30A Multi-Role Tanker Transport aircraft refuels a USAF F-22 Raptor, Nove…
DYK - Pitch Day events are continuing @AFLCMC Nov. 13-14 in Dayton, Ohio. #USAF's Life Cycle Management Center is r… https://t.co/LH5XmKuVff
You'll want to add this one to your playlist. https://t.co/aZXefMZocR
RT @HQ_AFMC: Today's the day....more than $12 million is set to be awarded at the inaugural @AFLCMCofficial Pitch Day in Dayton! Stay tune…
RT @PACAF: @109thAW Airmen prepare a #LC130 for take-off to Christchurch #NewZealand, Oct. 31. in support of the @NSF managed U.S. Antarcti…
RT @USAF_ACC: Awesome story on @usairforce Air Combat Command Captain supporting his daughter by cheering in sync with her at her football…
RT @cmsaf18: Leaders, listen up. Please speak with your teammates about their #financial readiness. Help them learn & lead them to the AFRC…
Interested in becoming a #pilot? Don't let height concerns stand in your way. Read on for stature requirements here: https://t.co/l1FoZt3nYL
RT @BullisSchool: Today in celebration of our veterans, we welcomed U.S. Air Force Col. D’Anne E. Spence and Master Navigator and Pentagon…
RT @DeptofDefense: Bringing the fight anywhere in any weather! These @usairforce special operators are in Norway, practicing with CV-22 Osp…
RT @PACAF: Working alongside our sister services, allies, and partners allows us to be ready, resilient, and postured for the future. @AusA
RT @GenDaveGoldfein: Today we swore in 20 recruits @PhoenixRaceway making them part of the greatest @usairforce on the planet. What better…
RT @DeptofDefense: .@AndersenAFBGuam is one of the world’s most historic Air Force bases! Where did it get its name? Click ▶️ to find out!…
Happy 244th birthday @USMC! Give us a call whenever you need some #airpower. #HappyBirthdayMarines https://t.co/P4yjU1iJLW
RT @AETCommand: #ICYMI: @81trwKeeslerAFB leadership officiated the opening of "The Lighthouse" inside the Larcher Chapel! Read more ⬇️ on t…