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NEWS | April 26, 2017

Keeping the airfield, airspace safe during AT 17

By Senior Airman Kimberly Nagle 633rd Air Base Wing Public Affairs

As the jets take-off during ATLANTIC TRIDENT 17, there are crews behind the scenes ensuring the safe execution of the exercise, both on the ground and in the air.

Ground-crews assemble during each part of the launch-and-recovery of every aircraft in the exercise, ranging from the U.S. Air Force F-35 Lightning II to the Royal air force Eurofighter Typhoon.

Before the pilots leave the ground, a dedicated crew chief runs through their own set of launch procedures.

U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Devonte Prescott, 1st Maintenance Squadron, 27th Aircraft Maintenance Unit crew chief, performed launch procedures of an F-22 Raptor during ATLANTIC TRIDENT 17 and expressed that being involved in the exercise is like being a part of something bigger than himself.

“This exercise is giving me a broader versatility. I have observed how other (nation’s crew chiefs) work and it seems our procedures are similar,” said Prescott. “It is just a great experience seeing all of the different jets brought together.”

Once the aircraft is cleared by their respective crew chiefs, the pilot begins communicating with the 1st Operations Support Squadron Air Traffic Control Tower Airmen for directions on when and where they can launch.

The Airmen who work in the tower have the challenge of not only communicating with the members of the partnering nations, but also managing the escalated number of aircraft on the field.

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Brianna Bowen, 1st OSS air traffic controller, was a new member of the tower when Joint Base Langley-Eustis had its first trilateral exercise in 2015. That was when she first experienced what it takes to communicate during an exercise.

According to Bowen, the members in the tower received simulated training, which was set-up to help them learn how to manage the foreign aircraft, stating that the firsthand experience is what really helped her learn.

“This is new, something that a lot of people haven’t seen before,” said Bowen. “We are essentially making history right now.”  

She also mentioned that the communication between the controllers and the pilots is not as difficult because there are universal set phrases for all ATCs and aircraft during the exercise.

Whether the plane is in the air or on the ground, JBLE support organizations are ready to execute their missions.