Airfield Operations Flight at Wright-Patt keeps things safely moving

Published: Friday, November 10, 2017 @ 9:31 AM


            Senior Airman Nicholas Jacobs, 88th Operations Support Squadron air traffic controller journeyman, uses binoculars to observe Wright-Patterson’s flightline while Airman Morgan Everton, 88 OSS air traffic controller apprentice, assists Jacobs in flight data and ground control duties. Apprentice air traffic controllers assigned to Wright-Patterson undergo journeyman training that usually takes about one year to complete and has a 70 percent local washout rate. (U.S. Air Force photo/John Harrington)
Senior Airman Nicholas Jacobs, 88th Operations Support Squadron air traffic controller journeyman, uses binoculars to observe Wright-Patterson’s flightline while Airman Morgan Everton, 88 OSS air traffic controller apprentice, assists Jacobs in flight data and ground control duties. Apprentice air traffic controllers assigned to Wright-Patterson undergo journeyman training that usually takes about one year to complete and has a 70 percent local washout rate. (U.S. Air Force photo/John Harrington)

It’s nearly impossible for anyone who lives or works around Wright-Patterson Air Force Base to not notice the frequent low roar of C-17 Globemaster IIIs coming and going on a nearly daily basis.

Wright-Patterson has nine C-17s assigned from the 445th Airlift Wing and while the base doesn’t have the flight line activity seen at locations like Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia, or Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina, with their assigned fighter squadrons, it doesn’t mean controlling air traffic at Wright-Patt is easy for the 88th Operations Support Squadron Airfield Operations Flight.

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“Compared to other bases, it’s not super busy, but what we do get is very complex,” said Capt. Chelsea Silsby, 88 OSS Airfield Operations Flight commander.

Complex like during recent hurricane evacuation operations when more than 65 Air Force and Navy aircraft from South Carolina and Florida found safe haven at Wright-Patt during Hurricane Irma.

Some aircraft were small fighters, like F-15 Eagles from Jackonsville, while others were bigger patrol aircraft, like the P-3 Orions and P-8 Poseidons from a Navy base in Jacksonville, with C-17s from Charleston Air Force Base finishing the mix.

How fast a plane flies, how long it takes it to go through the standard aerial path to the runway – known as the “pattern,” and how long it takes a plane to get off the runway after it’s landed all play into how complicated an air traffic controller’s job will be.

“If you have some really fast airplanes and then some slow, big ones in the same pattern, it’s a lot harder to keep them spaced apart, so that takes a lot of training for our [controllers] upstairs,” said Silsby. “Fortunately, we have a really good simulator. I would say we have the best in the Air Force, honestly. Jack Wilson is our Air Traffic Control Tower Simulator administrator, and the Air Force pulls him as a subject matter expert all the time, nationwide, to look at other people’s sims and programs, just to make sure they’re right because ours is so good.”

Wilson, a retired senior master sergeant with 21 years of active-duty air traffic controller experience, sees his mission a little simpler.

“I guarantee I create stress,” Wilson said. “I use the air traffic control simulator to create the situation to force the decision making for the air traffic controller to learn. I want to prepare them as if I was the watch supervisor [in the tower].”

In the case of the recent hurricane evacuation, Wilson had already put his controllers through a HUREVAC scenario at the start of hurricane season as he does every year. Silsby said that because the controllers had already been put through the paces of controlling high numbers of different kinds of aircraft landing at Wright-Patt in quick succession on the simulator, it made the actual HUREVAC more of an exciting event for her controllers instead of a stressful one.

“Mr. Wilson has dedicated a lot of time and effort, above and beyond what is even expected of him, to develop scenarios,” said 88 OSS Chief Controller Master Sgt. Bethany Norton. “He could essentially just create a sim and let people run with it. But, he creates different sims for each trainee every time they go down to see him on a daily basis.”

Wilson trains air traffic controllers from apprentice level through journeyman at Wright-Patt as one of nearly 90 Air Force bases that train apprentice controllers straight from their initial technical training. The training takes about a year and isn’t easy – about 70 percent wash out from the program, according to Wilson.

“With the lack of traffic that we have here on a day-to-day basis, we couldn’t have competent controllers without him,” said Senior Airman Tyler Jacobs, 88 OSS air traffic controller journeyman. “Because to get rated in position, you’re supposed to have up to four aircraft at the same time in the air and the amount of times we actually see that here with live traffic is very few and far between. So, to be able to train on that every day [on the simulator] is crucial.”

It’s not only airplanes depicted on the simulator either. The Airfield Operations Flight is divided into two parts: air traffic control and airfield management. Together, they are responsible for controlling all air traffic around a 5-mile radius of the base as well as everything on the flight line, including all vehicle traffic, maintenance, construction and personnel.

“In air traffic, they have to know how to do air traffic control for every type of aircraft in the inventory,” Silsby said. “Then for airfield management, they have to know the rules for parking and wingtip clearance for every aircraft in the inventory. They know the rules on what the airfield needs to look like at the end of the day and so they work with all these different teams across the base to make sure that that happens.”

That could mean working with base civil engineers to get construction completed on the airfield while minimizing its impact on flight operations or ensuring that pilots and air crews get the logistical support they need after landing, according to Silsby. During the HUREVAC, it additionally meant figuring out where to put all the planes, a feat Silsby gave great credit to Airfield Manager Rome Alcantara for accomplishing with his team.

“It looks like we have a lot of pavement but it’s still like a big [puzzle] to try to get everything to fit in an appropriate and safe place,” Silsby said.

Wilson says that while Wright-Patterson may be rated the 84th busiest control tower in the Air Force, the mission is just as important here as it is anywhere.

“I know I have to equip them with the tools to be successful,” Wilson said. “Because if I’m the manager down range, I don’t want a weak link. I want somebody that’s exposed to the rules and practiced the rules. I want them to be confident because deployments are stressful as it is. I want them to find a comfort level and find it fast, and really contribute at the tip of the spear for the mission on the other side of the world.”

New York woman shot by hunter who mistook her for deer

Published: Friday, November 24, 2017 @ 9:37 PM

(Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images
(Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)(Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

A New York woman is dead after she was shot by a hunter who mistook her for a deer while she was walking her dogs on Wednesday evening.

>> Read more trending news

Rosemary Billquist, 43, lived near the border of New York and Pennsylvania and was shot just before 5:30 p.m. The shooter, identified as 34-year-old Thomas Jadlowski, heard her scream and ran to her. He applied pressure to the wound and called 911, The Buffalo News reports. Billquist was shot roughly 100 yards from her home.

Authorities say that the shooting occurred after sunset, noting that it’s illegal to hunt at night in the state of Pennsylvania. Her husband, Jamie Billquist, told The Buffalo News that “they tried saving her [but] it was just too bad … It’s horrific. It will be with me the rest of my life.” He added, “She was always out to help somebody. She never wanted credit and was always quiet about it. She’s just an angel. An angel for sure.”

Officials say that Jadlowski is cooperating with their investigation and that no charges have been filed yet.

Rosemary Billquist was rushed to a University of Pittsburgh Medical Center hospital in Erie, Pennsylvania where personnel were unable to save her. Jamie was watching TV when an ambulance pulled into his driveway and a paramedic that he knew told him “we’ve got a gunshot wound,” and they ran to the field. Her husband rode with her to the hospital.

Jamie recalled his wife as an avid athlete with a zest for life, estimating that she ran over 60 marathons. He says that he knows the Jadlowski family but said simply, “It’s a two-second decision that he’ll regret for the rest of his life.”

If authorities do decide to press charges, Jadlowski will likely face involuntary manslaughter, which is defined in the Pennsylvania Penal Code as follows:

A person is guilty of involuntary manslaughter when as a direct result of the doing of an unlawful act in a reckless or grossly negligent manner, or the doing of a lawful act in a reckless or grossly negligent manner, he causes the death of another person.

Involuntary manslaughter is a first-degree misdemeanor and carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison.

Macy's credit card machines go down on Black Friday

Published: Friday, November 24, 2017 @ 9:55 PM

NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 23:  People shop at Macy's department store on
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 23: People shop at Macy's department store on "Black Friday" on November 23, 2017 in New York City. Black Friday starts earlier in the season on Thanksgiving Day instead of the Friday after. (Photo by Stephanie Keith/Getty Images)(Stephanie Keith/Getty Images)

When the credit card machines went down at Macy’s on Black Friday, chaos was inevitable. In recent years, the day after Thanksgiving has become known not for the deals, but for the fights that ensue when shoppers rush for those deals.

>> Read more trending news

The machines seemed to be down all over the nation, and angry shoppers flooded Twitter with their complaints as Macy’s worked to get its systems running again.

It’s a particularly tough break for Macy’s, which is almost the unofficial retail sponsor of the holidays. It’s Thanksgiving Day parade has been a staple for generations, and every American of a certain age remembers watching “Miracle on 34th Street” in which Kris Kringle fills in for a drunken Santa at a Macy’s in Manhattan.

In a statement to NBC, the company said, “It is taking longer than usual to process some credit and gift cards in our stores, but we had added additional associates to the floor who are working to resolve the issue as quickly as possible.” The news outlet reported problems in Washington, D.C.; Reno, Nevada; Chicago; New York City, Richmond, Virginia; San Diego; and across New Jersey.

The company eventually took to social media in hopes of calming the tempers of some customers, asking them to send direct messages.

CNN Money notes that Macy’s stock could have really used the boost from a blockbuster Black Friday; their revenue dropped 6.1 percent in the last quarter, which marks the 11th straight quarter in which they’ve experienced declines. A lot of that decline is probably due to customers moving online for shopping, but unreliable credit card machines definitely won’t help their image.

This Black Friday has been no less eventful than those in previous years. Early in the morning, a brawl broke out in an Alabama store that caused the entire mall to shut down. Even more absurdly, four grown men were caught on video fighting over a toy car at Walmart.

But, like always, the holiday has been a success for retailers, with TechCrunch reporting $640 million in sales at 7 a.m. on the West Coast. Unsurprisingly, a lot of that money changed hands online, and a large portion of transactions even occurred via mobile devices. Which means that while shoppers may have hit the brick-and-mortar stores, they were still buying on the web. Early estimates showed that sales were up over 18 percent from 2016, so with any luck, retailers made out big -- even though a few Macy’s locations are probably very, very disappointed.

Clouds increase tonight, cool temperatures return this weekend

Published: Friday, November 24, 2017 @ 4:41 AM
Updated: Friday, November 24, 2017 @ 3:47 PM

A cooler day is expected Saturday, but warmer temperatures return next week in the Dayton area.

RELATED: Dayton Interactive Radar - WHIO Doppler 7

QUICK-LOOK FORECAST

  • Increasing clouds late tonight
  • Isolated sprinkle early Saturday
  • Cooler and dry to finish the weekend

(Storm Center 7 Meteorologist Brett Collar)

RELATED: 5-Day Forecast

DETAILED FORECAST

OVERNIGHT: 

Clouds will be on the increase overnight tonight. It’ll be a mild and breezy night with temperatures dropping into the lower 40s.

(Storm Center 7 Meteorologist Brett Collar)

RELATED: County-by-County Weather

SATURDAY: Lots of clouds around for the morning and with a chance for a passing sprinkle or light shower, but most will likely remain dry. Temperatures will climb from the 40s to near 50 degrees by midday, then fall after the cold front moves through. It will become breezy at times, delivering a wind chill in the upper 30s to low 40s through most of the day. Some clearing is expected into Saturday night with temperatures turning colder. Overnight lows drop into the upper 20s by morning, but feel colder with a light breeze still around.

SUNDAY: High pressure returns to the Miami Valley, bringing sunshine and a few clouds. A seasonal afternoon expected with highs in the upper 40s. Still a very light breeze in place will result in wind chills around five to 10 degrees cooler at times.

MONDAY: Mostly sunny and milder for Monday with highs in the lower 50s.

TUESDAY: Partly cloudy, breezy and milder for Tuesday. Temperatures will climb to nearly 10 degrees above normal into the middle 50s.

WHIO Weather App 

WEDNESDAY: Morning sun gives way to clouds throughout the day. Another mild day with highs in the lower 50s. There’s a slight chance for showers into the evening or night. 

Sex-with-student cases swamp area schools

Published: Friday, November 24, 2017 @ 1:22 PM

Substitute teacher accused of sex with students appear in court

Four area educators face criminal charges for sexual behavior involving students, two others were recently sentenced for similar crimes, and an investigation of a Franklin school employee was announced Tuesday. It’s an unusually bad run of activity, according to local and state officials.

The cases range from multiple charges of sexual battery for relationships between teachers and teen students, to allegations of pandering obscenity for “producing an obscene performance” involving a minor, and even charges of rape of a child younger than 13.

RELATED: Trial date set for 2 superintendents in rape case

“We’re facing a challenging time right now with the numbers (of cases) that are there,” said Scott Inskeep, superintendent of Kettering Schools. “The piece out of this that I think is essential — please, for the students, for other teachers, for parents or guardians, if you suspect something, let us know. … It may be nothing. But (this time) when it was something, we did exactly what we needed to do.”

The head of one of the largest teachers unions in southwest Ohio said educators must take personal responsibility and draw clear lines in their relationships with students. Dayton teachers union President David Romick urged teachers to be cautious to the point of “standoffishness” with students.

Many local cases

Former Miamisburg Middle School teacher Jessica Langford and Kettering Fairmont High School substitute teacher Madeline Marx are set to appear in Montgomery County Common Pleas Court this week on felony sexual battery charges.

RELATED: Miamisburg teacher indicted on six counts

Langford, 32, worked for Miamisburg schools for nine years, earning good evaluations, but is now accused of sexual conduct with a 14-year-old male student at the school, according to Prosecutor Mat Heck. She is to appear in court Tuesday.

RELATED: Kettering sub teacher pleads not guilty

Marx, 23, was a substitute teacher in Mad River, Kettering and Oakwood schools, where Oakwood Superintendent Kyle Ramey said there were no “red flags” when Marx worked there. Prosecutors now accuse her of sex acts with 16- and 17-year-old male Kettering Fairmont High School students between May and September, court records show. She is due in court Thursday.

Those charges come on the heels of two male educators being convicted in similar cases.

Former Fairfield high school teacher Tyler Conrad, 26, was sentenced to 180 days in jail in July for sexual imposition and contributing to the delinquency of a minor, stemming from sexual activity with a 16-year-old female student in 2016, court records show.

RELATED: Fairfield teacher gets maximum sentence

RELATED: Dayton aide/coach sentenced in sex case

Former Dayton teacher’s aide and coach Donte Murphy, 29, was sentenced to five years’ probation in October. He was found guilty of sexual battery for having sex in 2016 with an 18-year-old Ponitz Career Tech student whom he coached, according to court records. Another Dayton teacher, John Findley of Stivers, has a hearing scheduled Jan. 5 in his felony case of pandering obscenity involving a minor, who was a student at another school, according to court records.

In Logan County, Indian Lake Superintendent Patrick O’Donnell faces charges that include rape over a three-year period of a child under 13 who was not a student in his district. The 52-year-old has pleaded not guilty, and his trial is set for December.

How common is it?

Each year, the Ohio Department of Education’s Office of Professional Conduct reports its number of investigations into criminal sex offenses and “child services sexual abuse” cases that implicate educators.

Combined, those two categories went from 55 investigations in 2014, up to 69 in 2015, then back down to 46 in 2016. Year-to-date numbers are not available for 2017, according to ODE spokeswoman Brittany Halpin, and not all investigations result in findings of wrongdoing.

RELATED: See the 2016 state educator conduct report

Another 150 to 300 investigations per year involved “inappropriate” relationships, behavior, or comments/gestures. But ODE officials said not all of those were of a sexual nature. Halpin said the department’s data is not separated in such a way to show how many of the investigations for “conduct unbecoming the teaching profession” are sex-related.

“You have to look at the big picture of how many licensed educators there are versus how many bad actors,” Halpin said.

The 2016 Office of Professional Conduct report says less than one half of one percent of the state’s 318,000 licensed educators were involved in a 2016 investigation of any kind, including things like academic fraud or falsifying an application, as well as sex-related cases.

Personal responsibility

While sex charges against educators are relatively rare, they are also not new. In 2013, teachers from Wayne and Centerville high schools were each sentenced to five years of probation and required to register as sex offenders for sexual activity with teen students. Cases pop up in media reports all around the country.

Asked whether sexual tension is inevitable when thousands of teachers, many in their 20s, deal with thousands of teenage high school students every day, two local leaders said teachers must take personal responsibility.

2013 CASE: Centerville teacher gets probation in sex case

2013 CASE: Wayne HS teacher sentenced in student sex case

“I have to step outside my own frame of reference, where that absolutely never could be and wasn’t ever even a glint of a thought,” said Romick. “I suppose any time people are put together there are a variety of tensions that are possible. But that relationship between a teacher and a student, I think that rises above any kind of other interpersonal relationships that other people in the world have.”

Inskeep, the Kettering superintendent, said the licensure process and background checks are protections, but are no guarantee of the choices people will make in the future. Still, he said it’s not inevitable that there will be issues.

“I truly feel today that the training and communication that teachers receive when they begin, they understand that there’s a clear line,” he said. “We don’t know what’s in the mind of these individuals, their intentions when they make those choices. I can’t get into their heads. But I really don’t feel it’s inevitable.”

What can be done?

Halpin said Ohio educators are in the state’s “rapback” fingerprint system, which triggers automatic state notification if someone is charged with a crime, so ODE can notify schools quickly. And educators’ licenses can be immediately revoked if they are convicted of an “absolute bar offense,” which includes violent felonies, sex crimes and crimes involving minors, among others.

Romick said Dayton teachers have received training about interacting with students on social media and texting platforms, adding that teacher training colleges, school districts and unions can do more on that front. He said his union sends regular reminders to teachers not to touch students.

“That covers more than (sex), but … don’t innocently hug or put your arm around somebody. Also don’t snatch somebody’s wrist or grab their arm,” Romick said. “I firmly believe that responsibility is with the individual.”

RELATED: Stivers teacher faces felony obscenity charges

David Vail, superintendent of Miamisburg schools, where Langford taught, echoed the “individual responsibility” statement, saying teachers who commit sexual misconduct crimes with students should have more ethics and “common sense.” He also urged everyone to report questionable behavior.

While sexual activity with students crosses a bright line, there is a question of what lesser behavior is questionable. Should a teacher give a teen student a hug, or talk about a relationship when a student asks for support?

Romick urged teachers to make clear that the relationship is professional and instructional, not personal.

Inskeep said social media connections between teachers and students have blurred that area somewhat, but he said teachers still have to know when to stop an interaction or refer a student to a counselor instead.

“When an adult senses that the line is crossed, or is close to being crossed, they have to put up the signal to stop, this is inappropriate, you’ve crossed the line,” he said.

State investigations

The Ohio Department of Education reached final disposition on 1,032 investigations of educators in 2016, on a wide range of academic, financial and criminal allegations. ODE does not have a separate breakdown of all sex-related cases.

46.4 percent: No discipline

25.8 percent: Consent agreement; can include a variety of discipline terms

16.5 percent: Educator’s license revoked or denied

10.9 percent: Letter of admonishment

0.5 percent: License suspended or limited