MACDILL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. (AFNS)
Takeoff, refuel, land, repeat.
When a KC-135 Stratotanker takes off to refuel the mission, its crew relies on a secure airfield to complete its duty in a safe and timely manner. A secure airfield would not be possible without the work of the Airmen in airfield management.
MacDill Air Force Base’s airfield management Airmen are responsible for a wide variety of tasks ranging from filing flight plans to performing checks on the airfield 24 hours a day, and even coordinating construction. These Airmen keep the airfield running safely and smoothly.
Beginning with flight scheduling, they are tasked to file flight plans they receive from the flight crew in a timely manner to ensure flights run accordingly.
When the time comes for the aircraft to depart, the airfield management team is there to make certain the airfield is safe for takeoff. Due to the need for multiple daily airfield checks, they are on constant alert for possible hazards and foreign object debris throughout the aviation community.
“It is important to remain vigilant when we’re out there (on the flightline) and pay attention to detail to make sure we pick up anything that could become a hazard to the aircraft,” said Staff Sgt. Michael David, an airfield management operations supervisor with the 6th Operations Support Squadron.
These Airmen are the initial eyes on the airfield and must be prepared to address any situation that may hinder a safe takeoff or landing.
“We look for any kind of cracking, pavement distress, depressions or anything that could be wrong with the pavement,” said Staff Sgt. Jason Lackey, the NCO in charge of airfield management operations with the 6th OSS.
When issues arise on the airfield, the airfield operations management team promptly coordinates with the responsible unit. At times these Airmen have to close areas of the airfield, and reroute aircraft when damage is present.
“A big part of our job is disseminating information where it needs to go,” Lackey explained. “If we found a large crack out on the airfield, we would need to talk to the 6th Civil Engineer Squadron as well as commanders and pilots to let them know what’s going on and what our actions would be.”
Beyond filing flight plans and inspecting the airfield, these MacDill Airmen track the aircraft in flight using a traffic situation display.
“We track aircraft for safety reasons,” Lackey said. “If an aircraft doesn’t show up or we can’t find it, we have to find out where it is and what’s going on.”
With an eye for attention to detail, airfield operations management Airmen keep the airfield secure and running smoothly from planning, to takeoff and landing.