53 ATCS cleared for takeoff for Hurricane Michael recovery

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  • 53d Air Traffic Control Squadron

Before the winds stopped blowing in Georgia and Florida, the 53d Air Traffic Control Squadron, from the 461st Air Control Wing at Robins Air Force Base, Georgia, jumped into action to bring connectivity back to the National Airspace System.

A four-person team departed for Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida, Oct. 11, 2018, aboard a MC-130 aircraft to assess damage to the fixed base navigational aids and to initiate the transition from Special Tactics Teams/Combat Control Teams to a fixed base operation at Tyndall’s airfield. 

The Fighting Gators of the Deployed Air Traffic and Control Landing Systems team assigned to the 53d ATCS played a vital role in reestablishing the airfield operations at the base. 

"Our mission is to stabilize the status of Tyndall airfield and rebuild its capability to return to traditional flying operations in support of the 325th Fighter Wing mission,” said Lt. Col. Val Maldonado III, 53 ATCS commander.

The squadron deployed the MSN-7/Mobile Air Traffic Control Tower and TRN-48/Mobile Tactical Air Navigation System along with a convoy of support personnel, vehicles and equipment. 

"The 53d ATCS is trained to rapidly deploy Air Traffic and Control Landing Systems teams during both outside the continental U.S. and within the continental U.S. contingency operations,” said Capt. Destiny Snyder, 53 ATCS director of operations. “By midday Oct. 12, in response to Hurricane Michael's effect on Tyndall AFB, the 53d ATCS responded quickly to aide in relief efforts to a devastated airfield.”

The 17-person team will assess capability of the existing structures and navigational aids while building the air traffic services support infrastructure to the required flight safety standards.

"The team is also returning the airspace back to an appropriate level of safety between the Eglin Radar Control Facility and the Federal Aviation Administration to ensure coordinated air traffic control procedures are in place at Tyndall AFB,” said Maldonado.