Pennsylvania Air National Guardsmen with the 258th Air Traffic Control Squadron traveled to Oregon to train with the 270th Air Traffic Control Squadron in Klamath Falls from Sept. 11, 2016 to Sept 19, 2016. Air Field System Maintainers, Air Traffic Control Specialists, and Power Production Specialists from the 258 ATCS and 171st Air Refueling Wing trained on setting up, operating and testing the MSN-7, a Mobile Air Traffic Control Tower.
Although the techniques used by the 270th to operate the MSN-7 may have looked familiar to the members of the 258th, traveling to a location across the country was meant to simulate a deployment, giving the airmen the experience of setting up and operating the MSN-7 in an unfamiliar environment.
“This is our deployable mission,” said Staff Sgt. Tom Cogis, an Air Traffic Controller with the 258th and the Federal Aviation Administration. “We can take this anywhere in the world, and when fully operational, we have the frequencies, the light guns, we have everything we need to run a tower operation.”
Members practiced full run-throughs of what it would take to make the MSN-7 operational, including driving the MSN-7 to the site, raising the tower, attaching a power supply, and setting up the antennas and weather sensors.
“Once this MSN-7 is fully operational, it is as good as any tower at any airport,” Cogis said.
The training in Oregon also provided Air Traffic Controllers and Air Field System Maintainers a chance to work together to completely set up the MSN-7, an opportunity that otherwise might not happen. Like many other career fields in the Air Force, both controllers and the system maintainers have strict training requirements and hours in training that need met.
“Our annual training is an opportunity to get the maintainers and controllers to work on equipment,” said Staff Sgt. Stephen Snyder, a full-time Airfield System Technician at the 258th. “It can be difficult for the controllers to fully participate as they always need people in our fixed tower for proficiency training.”
Air traffic controllers got a chance to work side by side with the airfield system maintainers, setting up the antennas and weather sensors needed for operation.
Coming out of this training, our air traffic controllers feel much more comfortable setting up the antennas and weather sensors, said Snyder. On the maintenance side it provided our Staff Sgts. an opportunity to step into a leadership role while conducting the MSN-7 setup and tear down by troops who had never taken part in the process before.
Members of the 258th also got a chance to work with two Power Production Specialists from the 171st. Although the 258th is a squadron of the 171st, distance doesn’t allow for many combined training opportunities.
The 258th Air Traffic Control Squadron is located in Johnstown, Pennsylvania and is a geographically separated squadron of the 171st Air Refueling Wing located near Pittsburgh.
To view photos and video of MSN-7 setup and site tour, visit: www.facebook.com/pg/171stAirRefuelingWing