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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.”

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6-year-old boy falls into creek; recovery effort to continue Monday

Published: Sunday, February 25, 2018 @ 6:21 PM
Updated: Sunday, February 25, 2018 @ 9:02 PM

Water rescue underway involving boy

UPDATE @9:04 p.m.

Deputies said search efforts for a 6-year-old boy who fell into Mosquito Creek have been to no avail and is now considered a recovery.

Rescue crews will reconvene on scene in the morning to continue looking for the boy, who has not been identified.

Shelby County Sheriff Sgt. Aaron Steinke said the search entailed boats in the water and a helicopter using infrared to search for body heat. He said due to the rough terrain and the strong current, search crews are being called off for the night.

>> Weekend rain sets record; how much did you get?

Deputies will remain on scene through the night, and the road will remain closed. Other crews will return in the morning to continue the recovery effort.

The area was not under a flood warning from recent rains, said Storm Center 7 Meteorologist Brett Collar. 

UPDATE @ 7:55 p.m.

A 6-year-old boy fell into the Great Miami River this evening while he was playing with a friend along the riverbank, Shelby County Sheriff’s Sgt. Aaron Steinke said.

Crews were called around 5:45 p.m. to the river behind the Pasco trailer park in the 5000 block of state Route 29. Rescuers have boats in the water, and have every bridge covered south from Sidney to the Miami County line, the sergeant said.

>> Man freed from Greenville creek with garden hose

Joining search efforts will be a helicopter from the Ohio State Highway Patrol, which has night-vision equipment to help search from above.

The recent rains and swollen river poses a challenge to rescue personnel, Steinke said.

UPDATE @ 6:35 p.m.

Additional rescue crews from area departments have been called to join the search along the banks for a young boy who may have been swept up in the swollen Great Miami River.

According to scanner traffic, the 6-year-old boy was last seen wearing a red shirt and dark pants.

FIRST REPORT

Rescuers were called this evening to a mobile home park for a possible water rescue in the Great Miami River involving a child in the village of Pasco east of Sidney.

According to initial reports, a 6-year-old boy was wading but had not been seen in awhile. It is not confirmed that the boy has come to any harm.

The trailer park was in the 5800 block of Ohio 29, according to the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office.

Got a tip? Call our monitored 24-hour line, 937-259-2237, or send it to newsdesk@cmgohio.com

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Car crashes into pole on Salem Avenue; injuries reported

Published: Sunday, February 25, 2018 @ 9:54 PM

At least one person was injured when a car crashed into a pole in Dayton Sunday evening.

The crash happened at Salem Avenue and Park Hill. As of 9:35 p.m., one person was still trapped in the car, officials said.

>> 6-year-old boy falls into creek; recovery effort to continue Monday

A second person may be in the vehicle.

This story will be updated as additional information becomes available.

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Delta latest company ending discounts, benefits for NRA members

Published: Sunday, February 25, 2018 @ 9:25 PM
Updated: Sunday, February 25, 2018 @ 9:25 PM

Delta Air Lines will be ending discounts for NRA members.
Drew Angerer/Getty Images
Delta Air Lines will be ending discounts for NRA members.(Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines announced Saturday it is ending a discount for National Rifle Association members.

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The move comes as some other businesses broke ties with the NRA amid debate over gun control in the wake of the Parkland school shooting in Florida earlier this month.

“Delta’s decision reflects the airline’s neutral status in the current national debate over gun control amid recent school shootings,” airline officials said Sunday in a statement. “Out of respect for our customers and employees on both sides, Delta has taken this action to refrain from entering this debate and focus on its business. Delta continues to support the 2nd Amendment.”

>> 3 car rental companies cancel discounts for NRA members 

The move comes as some other businesses break ties with the NRA amid debate over gun control in the wake of the Parkland school shooting in Florida earlier this month.

Following is a list of some of the companies that have cut ties or distanced themselves from the NRA:

  • United Airlines -- United tweeted Saturday, "United is notifying the NRA that we will no longer offer a discounted rate to their annual meeting and we are asking that the NRA remove our information from their website." 

  • Delta Air Lines -- Delta issued the following statement Saturday: "Delta is reaching out to the National Rifle Association to let it know we will be ending its contract for discounted rates through our group travel program. We will be requesting that the NRA remove our information from its website." 

  • First National Bank of Omaha -- The bank announced that it would not renew a co-branded Visa credit-card with the NRA.

  • The Hertz Corp. -- The rental car company ended its discount program for NRA members.

  • MetLife Inc. -- The insurer terminated discounts that had been offered to NRA members on the NRA website

  • Enterprise Holdings Inc. -- The car rental company that also owns Alamo and National cut off discounts for NRA members.

  • Symantec Corp. -- The software company that makes Norton Antivirus technology ended its discount program with the NRA.

  • Chubb Ltd. -- The insurer announced it was ending participation in the NRA's gun-owner insurance program, though it provided notice three months ago.

  • Best Western -- The hotel chain told multiple social media users that it was no longer affiliated with the NRA, though it did not say when that decision was made.

  • Wyndham Hotels -- The hotel chain told social media users it is no longer affiliated with the NRA without specifying when that decision was made.

  • Starkey Hearing Technologies -- We have made the decision not to renew our discount program with the NRA. We will be asking them to remove our information from their website.

    The NRA has released the following statement: 

    "The more than five million law-abiding members of the National Rifle Association have enjoyed discounts and cost-saving programs from many American corporations that have partnered with the NRA to expand member benefits.

    "Since the tragedy in Parkland, Florida, a number of companies have decided to sever their relationship with the NRA, in an effort to punish our members who are doctors, farmers, law enforcement officers, fire fighters, nurses, shop owners and school teachers that live in every American community. We are men and women who represent every American ethnic group, every one of the world’s religions and every form of political commitment.

    "The law-abiding members of the NRA had nothing at all to do with the failure of that school’s security preparedness, the failure of America’s mental health system, the failure of the National Instant Check System or the cruel failures of both federal and local law enforcement.

    "Despite that, some corporations have decided to punish NRA membership in a shameful display of political and civic cowardice. In time, these brands will be replaced by others who recognize that patriotism and determined commitment to Constitutional freedoms are characteristics of a marketplace they very much want to serve.

    "Let it be absolutely clear. The loss of a discount will neither scare nor distract one single NRA member from our mission to stand and defend the individual freedoms that have always made America the greatest nation in the world."

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    British police: 6 injured after reported explosion in Leicester

    Published: Sunday, February 25, 2018 @ 8:57 PM
    Updated: Sunday, February 25, 2018 @ 8:57 PM

    In this image taken from video made available by Gem News, police attend the scene of an incident in Leicester, central England, Sunday Feb. 25, 2018. Police for the English city of Leicester say they are responding to a
    In this image taken from video made available by Gem News, police attend the scene of an incident in Leicester, central England, Sunday Feb. 25, 2018. Police for the English city of Leicester say they are responding to a "major incident" after receiving reports of an explosion and that emergency services were dealing with the incident on Hinckley Road and asked the public to stay away from the area. (Gem News via AP)(AP)

    At least six people were injured Sunday following reports of an explosion and fire in Leicester, police said.

    >> Read more trending news

    Authorities declined to speculate on the cause of the explosion, although police said Sunday that it did not appear to be related to terrorism.

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