325th OSS: On their A-Game, 100% of the time

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Anabel Del Valle
  • 325th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

The 325th Operations Support Squadron’s air traffic controllers have their eyes on the skies, ready to provide critical support to aircraft in Tyndall’s airspace, no matter the time or the circumstances.

Tyndall’s airspace may be slower than other installations during its ongoing transition into the “Installation of the Future,” however the controllers stay busy by supporting visiting units from across the country as they complete exercises designed to train and evaluate the operating capabilities of aviators and maintainers across the Department of Defense and with global partners.

On a clear day, air traffic controllers in the air tower have full visuals and control of aircraft more than six miles out and from an elevation of 2,500 feet above surface level. This birds-eye view is critical for providing guidance to pilots in the airspace; from safety alerts to landing and takeoff instructions.

“We support air-to-air missions for other installation’s [aircraft] when they’re in our skies and often send out our F-1 Mirages or QF-16 drones who often participate in their exercises,” explained Airman 1st Class Nicholas Davila, 325th OSS air traffic controller. “Our F-1s and QF-16s act as adversaries to other fighters, which allows them to practice combat maneuvers and tactics.”

Although Tyndall’s current fleet of on-station aircraft is limited, the Gulf Range Complex that reaches out over the Gulf of Mexico is a unique airspace which continues to provide an unmatched environment for training the DoD’s warfighters, making Tyndall a hot spot for exercises such as Checkered Flag and Weapons System Evaluation Programs.

Large, joint-service exercises bring 4th and 5th-generation airframes together to train, sometimes meaning controllers must account for the different size and weight classes of visiting airframes. As jet classification varies, so do takeoff and landing procedures.

“When we have Checkered Flag or WSEPs happening, it is sometimes a challenge to change operations tempo,” said Davila. “But make no mistake, those exercises come around and we’re always ready to step up to the plate and keep those pilots and aircraft moving.”

According to Davila, securing the skies means air traffic controllers are on their “A-game” 100% of the time. Keeping the flight plans proactive and adaptable allows for mission success.

“There is no room for mistakes,” said Davila. “We have to have a plan B, then a plan C, and so on. The air tower keeps our pilots and most valuable assets safe, while ensuring they can do what they’re up there to do. Without our guidance, the jets are on the ground.”