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Best in Air Force: Columbus AFB Airfield Ops hard work recognized

Staff Sgt. Glen Simmons, 14th Operations Support Squadron Air Traffic controller, keeps track of aircraft in and out of the airspace April 22, 2020, on Columbus Air Force Base, Miss. Tower personnel are responsible for ensuring the safe and orderly control of aircraft on the airfield and in the immediate surrounding airspace. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Jake Jacobsen)

Staff Sgt. Glen Simmons, 14th Operations Support Squadron air traffic controller, keeps track of aircraft in and out of the airspace at Columbus Air Force Base, Miss., April 22, 2020. Tower personnel are responsible for ensuring the safe and orderly control of aircraft on the airfield and in the immediate surrounding airspace. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Jake Jacobsen)

COLUMBUS AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. (AFNS) -- The 14th Operations Support Squadron’s Airfield Operations Flight at Columbus Air Force Base, Mississippi, was selected as the best in the Air Force for 2019 following their accomplishments and support of the base’s mission to cultivate Airmen, create pilots and connect.

The 14th OSS AOF, which garnered the 2019 Air Force Airfield Operations Flight of the Year award, is responsible for the daily care and feeding of both Columbus AFB owned airfields as well as the control of all 234 14th Flying Training Wing aircraft and civilian aircraft utilizing the surrounding airspace. The team monitors and manages all airfield construction projects and supports the wing’s 76,000 flight hour program to help produce pilots for the U.S. and its allies.

“Every member of our AOF understands how critical the 14th FTW mission is, but just as important they understand how they fit into it,” said Lt. Col. Dustin Mowrey, 14th OSS commander. “They earned this award because their work ethic is unmatched and they’re excellent at what they do.”

According to Maj. Jaye Smith, 14th OSS AOF commander, his team is well deserving of the recognition. They not only accomplish the mission, but continue to “raise the next generation of air traffic controllers and airfield management personnel for the Air Force.”

“But they don’t stop there,” Smith continued. “They continue to offer their service and expertise to additional projects and programs that impact the entire command and force.”

The AOF at Columbus AFB comprises four sections with their own mission area while each interacting with one another.

The air traffic control tower personnel are responsible for ensuring the safe and orderly control of aircraft on the airfield and in the immediate surrounding airspace. The radar approach control is responsible for controlling both military and civilian traffic in the Columbus assigned airspace, which serves 13 civilian and two military airfields. Airfield management oversees the airfield environment and helps manage airfield construction projects and criteria to ensure a safe operating environment.

The fourth section, airfield operations, is responsible for air traffic control training, ATC evaluations, ATC systems software maintenance and contract oversight.

“We have an amazing team of Airmen, NCOs, SNCOs and civilians that perform well beyond the minimum requirements,” Smith said. “For instance, our Airmen and civilians collectively controlled over 290,000 operations in 2019, and our training team volunteered to be the testbed for a new training records system that will be used Air Force-wide.”

Other projects the AOF are working on is providing ATC via virtual reality to the student pilots and overhauling how to conduct training to the new 3-level controllers. Additionally, the civilians in AOF took on the task of testing new equipment configurations for efforts that will be utilized both by the Air Force and the Federal Aviation Administration group.

“Columbus AFB presents one of the most challenging and controlling airfield environments in our Air Force,” Mowrey said. “Seeing their work day in and day out, and how they handle their business with class and professionalism, makes it easy to see they are a focused, unified team.”

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