Laughlin named busiest airfield in AF for 2011
by Senior Airman Scott Saldukas
47th Flying Training Wing Public Affairs
1/23/2012 - LAUGHLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- Laughlin was officially announced the busiest airfield and combined air traffic control tower in the Air Force for 2011 on Jan. 10 by the Air Force Flight Standards Agency for having a total of 337,439 operations.
Controlling the busiest airfield in the Air Force is the 47th Operations Support Squadron radar approach control section and tower. The RAPCON was identified as the busiest of 39 facilities with 266,591 operations and the tower was ninth out of 98 towers with 70,848.
"I'm very excited for and at the same time proud of the men and women in Laughlin's RAPCON and Tower who daily dedicate themselves to ensuring the safe execution of Laughlin's flight training mission," said Chief Master Sgt. Howard Teesdale, 47th Operations Support Squadron RAPCON chief controller. "Other than the instructor pilots who sit directly behind and are in control of the students flying the plane, no one comes close to touching the 47th Flying Training Wing's mission of graduating the world's best pilots than the controllers do."
The tower and RAPCON are made up of 69 controllers who control 62 airfields, 10,000 square miles of airspace within 100 miles of Laughlin. Before earning the title as the busiest airfield in the Air Force, they were controlling the fourth busiest in terms of combined air traffic control operations.
Teesdale also noted that Laughlin has been his busiest assignment to date and most complex.
"When your main customer is student pilots, the operating environment we try to provide them is ever changing," he said.
While a high operations tempo and constant change are always there, so is the sense of pride the controllers take in their job.
"I have a duty to help other controllers receive the quality training that will help them," said Airman 1st Class Jennifer Davis, 47th OSS air traffic controller. "This duty extends to myself as well, I am responsible for keeping myself current in all of my training and proficient in the positions I hold. I also have a moral responsibility to perform my job to the best of my ability, to ensure that I provide the best ATC service possible to aid in the pilot training process."
Teesdale explained how here at Laughlin it can get extremely busy at times and doing the unimaginable happens often.
"As with any organization, especially one that shares a singular common goal such as ours, there's a lot of camaraderie, they are a tough crowd and that's because they have to be," Teesdale said. "In the end however, controllers always seem to prevail and come out on top and in my humble opinion this is why controllers are routinely labeled a step above because they truly are."
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