HomeNewsArticle Display

258th Air traffic controllers take charge while deployed

May 2010 --      It was a normal day with the usual standard operations at the Air Traffic Control tower at the 379th Expeditionary Operational Support Squadron in Southeast Asia.  The air traffic controllers were conducting normal business until 12:37 p.m. Mar. 22.  That's when the tower's commercial power went down almost hindering flight missions.  With quick-thinking, expertise and competence, Staff Sgt. Kevin Hennelly and Senior Airman Daniel Zummach, both air traffic controllers with the 258th Air Traffic Control Squadron, along with their crew overcame the problem caused by the outage.  Flight operations at the tower continued.
     "The Qatari Emiri Air Force backup generator's power wasn't working and simultaneously there was a complete loss of radar, airfield lighting, weather readouts and remote control of the Air Traffic Control and Landing System and barriers," said 2nd Lt. Ryan White, airfield operations flight director, 379th EOSS.
     In addition, the QEAF radio's were on a limited power supply which was on a tertiary system, creating a multiple point of failure in the system, according to White.  Two circuit breakers blew out and the tower generators were unable to supply power.
     Shortly after the outage, the battery backups died, all the radio's including the secondary system was inoperable and only six programmed land mobile radio's were functioning, state White.
     "With absolutely no ability to pre-train for this type of situation, the controllers maintained an outstanding level of situational awareness and professionalism," state White.
     The crew safely and expeditiously conducted 29 aircraft operations that included the launch and recovery of Air Tasking ORder missions in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom, according to White.
     The crew acted at this capacity for a little over two hours only operating with six LMRs until power was on and normal operations could resume.
     "Again, these individuals did an outstanding job, and I would like to thank home station commanders for sending well trained Airmen ready to take on the challenges of a deployment," said White.
     "We are definitely proud of them, but not surprised, both of these young Airmen are solid, capable professionals who take their job very seriously," said Chief Master Sgt. Steven Anslinger, chief of maintenance, 258th ATCS.  "they have just proven how much of an asset they are to our squadron, and the Air Force."
    Zummach has returned home and Hennelly will be returning home in the summer.  Both, along with two other members of their crew that were on duty that morning were coined by the installation commander while deployed.