Marine Corps Air Station Miramar / 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing -- There are many jobs associated with keeping an aircraft in the sky; pilots, mechanics, crew chiefs, and administrators play a huge part. At Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, California, once it’s time to leave the ground, Marine air traffic controllers ensure the aircraft are clear for takeoff.
Each member of ATC works to safely organize and regulate the flow of air traffic within MCAS Miramar’s airspace and prevent collisions between aircraft.
In order for Marines to do that, they must work to obtain qualifications in different aspects of the job. Each installation has certain qualifications that the Marines can obtain specific to that installation.
“When I came here, it took me about two years to get facility rated,” said Staff Sgt. Bradley Reichert, an ATC crew chief with Headquarters and Headquarter Squadron (HHS), MCAS Miramar. “It takes a lot of training and time in order to get the qualifications, even if you have the experience. It’s a universal idea but it’s totally different at every facility based on the equipment and traffic.”
According to Cpl. Adam Burse, an air traffic controller also with HHS, in order for a Marine to be facility rated, they must complete every qualification at the facility. Marines are given the opportunity to earn qualifications in flight data, ground control, cab coordinator, clearance delivery, final control, radar coordinator, north local and south local.
Flight data, ground control and cab coordinator are positions in the tower. These Marines are responsible for ensuring the airfield traffic is safe and organized at all times.
Marines qualified in clearance delivery, final control and radar coordinator work in the radar room using different types of machines to monitor the airspace above MCAS Miramar.
“The most difficult position we have is local,” said Reichert. “North and south both talk to pilots that are airborne. Their responsibility is to separate sequence.”
Along with Reichert and Burse, Staff Sgt. Charles Meeker and Cpl. Joshua Howell have recently qualified as facility rated.
“Getting facility rated is such a big deal because it doesn’t happen often, and it allows us to support an array of flight operations 24/7,” said Reichert.
Learning never stops in ATC, added Reichert. Staying proficient in this job gives the squadrons the opportunity to the get the training that they need in a safe and expeditious way. That’s what keeps them in the fight.