HomeNewsArticle Display

Tower a pinnacle of support for fliers

OPERATION IRAQI FREEDOM -- Air traffic controller Senior Airman Steve Haro directs the crew of a B-52 Stratofortress shortly after the aircraft landed at a forward-deployed location supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom.  (U.S. Air Force photo by 2nd Lt. Nathan Broshear)

OPERATION IRAQI FREEDOM -- Air traffic controller Senior Airman Steve Haro directs the crew of a B-52 Stratofortress shortly after the aircraft landed at a forward-deployed location supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom. (U.S. Air Force photo by 2nd Lt. Nathan Broshear)

OPERATION IRAQI FREEDOM (AFPN) -- As B-52 Stratofortresses lift off from a deployed location, the last person to wish them well is not the commander or maintainers. It is Airman 1st Class Jeremy Beecher, an air traffic controller with the 457th Air Expeditionary Group.

Air traffic controllers direct all air and runway traffic. They are the last people to talk to an aircraft before it is passed on to other controllers along the route. In their perch high above the airfield here, controllers manage aircraft out to five miles and up to 3,000 feet.

Even with millions of dollars in hardware and countless lives at stake, Beecher is prepared for his work. On the first day of bombing against Iraq, he felt it was "just another day at the office."

Beecher emphasized the controllers are here to do a job: conduct airfield operations safely and efficiently.

"That duty stays the same whether it's training, combat or just someone passing through," Beecher explained.

According to Beecher, confidence is the most vital part of an air traffic controller's job.

"You have to be sure of your instructions. If you're not confident, aircrews will hear it in your voice," said Beecher. "Often, you're the only one they can talk to on the ground during emergency procedures. You have to project calm."

Airman Steve Haro, a deployed air traffic controller here, is excited about his role in Operation Iraqi Freedom.

"It's a great feeling to be directly impacting the mission," Haro said. "Being deployed is an opportunity to contribute while getting experience at another airfield that's not your home station."

Operating in the European theater can present a unique set of challenges, explained Haro.

"Pilots from other countries sometimes have thick accents that make it hard to understand them on the radio. The key is to enunciate and speak slowly," Haro said. "Also you have to have a lot of patience."

As a vital link to the ground, controllers often find themselves assisting crews during in-flight emergencies.

Their "crash-phone," a large red phone mounted in the middle of the tower panel, automatically rings firefighters, medics, security forces and airfield staff in the case of an in-flight emergency.

"We can clear traffic to allow a plane to land without delay, direct fire and ambulance crews, and help aircrews with complex procedures," said Beecher.

Controllers can have two or three in-flight incidents a day and then go weeks without an occurrence. They rarely meet the people they help.

"We don't meet the aircrew very often," Beecher said. "There are a few pilots I recognize by their voice, yet we've never met."

Landing odd or notable aircraft can be memorable. Beecher once landed Air Force One. Haro had the opportunity to land a World War II-vintage B-25 bomber. Other deployed controllers recalled the day they landed a NASA Boeing 747 with a space shuttle mounted on top.

According to Beecher, working as an air traffic controller is one of the best enlisted jobs in the Air Force.

"The adrenaline makes the days go by quickly, and you've always got a great view of the airfield," he joked.

Beecher returns to his work with a smile as he looks toward the sky and greets his next customer.

"Inbound heavy, this is tower, welcome to my sky ..."

Engage

Twitter
Tactical Air Control Party Airmen assigned to @INGuardsman participate in close air support training. TACPs provide… https://t.co/BcyiAmfFmV
Twitter
RT @AirNatlGuard: The @140Wg became the first ANG unit to successfully execute an agile combat employment exercise while at @Buckley_AFB. T…
Twitter
“I’m a dental tech who became Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force...be dreamers – dream big.” - @CSMAF_Officialhttps://t.co/AKSjyQNq4s
Twitter
A C-130J Super Hercules aircraft from the 317th Airlift Wing flies during a Joint Forcible Entry exercise at Dyess… https://t.co/t3VXu0ZYWj
Twitter
Pentagon staff applaud @cmsaf_official as he exits the Pentagon for the last time as Chief Master Sgt. of the Air… https://t.co/c9RXsc3lAO
Twitter
Join us for the Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force transition ceremony LIVE from @Andrews_JBA on Aug 14 at 9:30AM E… https://t.co/GfPIHkx0zn
Twitter
An @EdwardsAFB B-52H Stratofortress completed a captive-carry flight test of the AGM-183A Air-launched Rapid Respon… https://t.co/HxxgE2In8C
Twitter
RT @SecAFOfficial: Just arrived to @NellisAFB to see RED FLAG, the #USAF Weapons School, and more. Because it has the best #Airmen and trai…
Twitter
“It’s no overstatement to say that brilliant ideas combined with trailblazing Airmen makes today’s Air Force the mo… https://t.co/qsDWN2Den5
Twitter
An F-22 Raptor aircraft assigned to the 3rd Wing approaches for landing at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson during R… https://t.co/EMKHnjC6p0
Twitter
A C-130H from the 302nd Airlift Wing, equipped with the Modular Airborne Firefighting System, flies over fires near… https://t.co/9BPVXNFual
Twitter
Roam Robotics developed a lightweight & inexpensive knee exoskeleton for applications in the health, military & rec… https://t.co/7klpyEaYG1
Twitter
RT @USAFCENT: |RESOLUTE PARTNERSHIPS| On Aug. 6, 2020, U.S. Air Forces Central Command and @AirMobilityCmd units were called to action to p…
Twitter
A C-17 Globemaster III from Joint Base Lewis-McChord flies over the Seattle skyline after completing a training exe… https://t.co/4IodNs1bId
Twitter
#DYK The T-33A Shooting Star at Moody AFB's air park was developed from the single-seat F-80 fighter by lengthening… https://t.co/XXY3pAHDzu
Twitter
A C-17 Globemaster III returns to @TeamCharleston after evacuating to Ellsworth AFB. Ellsworth has a support agree… https://t.co/vtHhp1ETVC
Twitter
RT @DeptofDefense: #OTD in 1949, the DOD was formed, unifying the military under the secretary of defense. Our thanks to everyone who serve…
Twitter
Starting off the week with some air power! . An F-22 Raptor assigned to the 3rd Wing takes off from Joint Base Elme… https://t.co/cjvCe6fSOk
Twitter
RT @HQ_AFMC: “We need out-of-the-box thinkers to succeed in our mission of developing the base of the future,” said Brig. Gen. Patrice Mel…
Facebook
The newest Air Force Podcast recently dropped. Listen to a small snippet of CMSAF Kaleth O. Wright talk with Staff Sgt. New about resiliency. Listen to the entire podcast on Youtube: https://go.usa.gov/xpnAD or Subscribe to The Air Force Podcast on iTunes: https://podcasts.apple.com/podcast/the-air-force-podcast/id1264107694?mt=2
Facebook
Our mantra, "Always ready!" It's the spirit we fly by! #B2Tuesday
Facebook
Need some motivation to get your week started off right? Listen as CMSAF Kaleth O. Wright weighs in...
Facebook
The U.S. Air Force Academy gives its cadets some unique opportunities. Ride along one of this opportunities.
Facebook
A United States Air Force KC-135 Stratotanker refuels an F-22 Raptor over northern Iraq, Nov. 6, 2019. U.S. Central Command operations deter adversaries and demonstrate support for allies and partners in the region. (Video by Staff Sgt. Daniel Snider)
Facebook
Although the Silver Star is the third-highest military medal, it's not given often. Today, TSgt Cody Smith was the 49th Special Tactics Airman to receive this medal since Sept. 11th, 2001. Read more of TSgt Smith's amazing story: https://www.airforcespecialtactics.af.mil/News/Article-Display/Article/2024815/special-tactics-airman-battled-through-injuries-awarded-silver-star/fbclid/IwAR2LZWwx1VHdTnQe39rIEBOuJS_0JvMQBBGt7I-E6zsxxn-Lx9387yu43Bc/ Cannon Air Force Base Air Force Special Operations Command United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) U.S. Department of Defense (DoD)
Facebook
Tune in as our Air Force musicians along with other military musicians are awarded the National Medal of Arts.
Facebook
Like Us
Twitter
1,266,362
Follow Us