Air Traffic Controllers put to the test for hurricane evacuation

Air Traffic Controllers Put to the Test for Hurricane Evacuation

Airman 1st Class Tristin Kessamann, 2nd Operational Support Squadron air traffic controller, watches for aircraft out of the tower’s cab at Barksdale Air Force Base, La., Sept. 8, 2017. Air traffic controllers experienced an increase in normal work load on Sept. 8, 2017, due to multiple aircraft evacuating Hurricane Irma. (U.S. photo by Airman 1st Class Sydney Campbell)

Air Traffic Controllers Put to the Test for Hurricane Evacuation

Senior Airman Jordan Futch, 2nd Operational Support Squadron air traffic controller, watches an aircraft tracker in preparation for a plane landing during a hurricane evacuation taking place at Barksdale Air Force Base, La., Sept. 8, 2017. Air traffic controllers typically speak to 10-30 planes a day, however during the 2017 hurricane evacuation they coordinated with over 70 aircraft. (U.S. photo by Airman 1st Class Sydney Campbell)

Air Traffic Controllers Put to the Test for Hurricane Evacuation

Senior Airman Carlos Griffin, 2nd Operational Support Squadron air traffic controller, organizes aircraft as they prepare to land on the flightline at Barksdale Air Force Base, La., Sept. 8, 2017. All levels of the air traffic control tower work together to keep aircraft safe on the ground and in the air. (U.S. photo by Airman 1st Class Sydney Campbell)

Air Traffic Controllers Put to the Test for Hurricane Evacuation

Airman 1st Class Tristin Kessamann, 2nd Operational Support Squadron air traffic controller, monitors aircraft whereabouts at Barksdale Air Force Base, La., Sept. 8, 2017. On average, one or two Airman occupy the cab of the traffic control tower, but due to the hurricane evacuation, the cab had roughly 11 Airmen tracking aircraft in the sky and on the ground.(U.S. photo by Airman 1st Class Sydney Campbell)

Air Traffic Controllers Put to the Test for Hurricane Evacuation

Monitoring systems indicate the high presence of aircraft on the flightline at Barksdale Air Force Base, La., Sept. 11, 2017. Barksdale welcomed aircraft from bases that were affected by Hurricane Irma protecting them from damage. (U.S. photo by Airman 1st Class Sydney Campbell)

Air Traffic Controllers Put to the Test for Hurricane Evacuation

Air traffic controllers monitor transitioning aircraft from the tower at Barksdale Air Force Base, La., Sept. 11, 2017. Multiple planes flew to Barksdale to escape Hurricane Irma’s storm path. (U.S. photo by Airman 1st Class Sydney Campbell)

BARKSDALE AIR FORCE BASE, La. --

Team Barksdale welcomed over 70 aircraft, and more than 180 personnel, during the 2017 hurricane evacuation Sept. 8-10, 2017.

Bases along the East Coast in Hurricane Irma's projected path, took proactive measures evacuating their aircraft to Barksdale staying ahead of the storm.

Airmen from the 2nd Operational Support Squadron Air Traffic Control flight coordinated more than 93 aircraft arriving to Barksdale, a 200 percent increase from normal day-to-day operations.

“No matter how many planes come through our radar, we put out the same amount of effort and teamwork,” said Senior Airman Eric Mason, 2nd OSS air traffic controller. “During the hurricane evacuation, we were performing our job just like any other day, just with more stress.”

While Air Force bases along Hurricane Irma’s path get stormed on, Barksdale’s controllers offered a safe harbor from the storm.

“It is an honor to look out of the tower’s cab and see all our guests here on the flightline,” Mason said. “Barksdale is a safe haven for them.”

For Mason, it was just another day on the job, for others it was a time to push through and succeed.

Focused on her radio, Senior Airman Jordan Futch, 2nd OSS air traffic controller, effortlessly coordinates with approaching aircraft.

"I know my job is crucial to an everyday mission,” said Futch. “I help make sure our pilots come home safely to their families. Dealing with the hurricane evacuation, I can see just how imperative it is to make sure these planes have someone to talk to on the ground.”

Teamwork is crucial when dealing with pressure during big missions, such as the hurricane evacuation.

“We all work together really well. Our team dynamic helps get the mission done,” Futch said.

With the help of Barksdale’s air traffic controllers, the hurricane evacuation was a success. The air traffic controllers provided the strength and teamwork it takes to navigate military aircraft down to safety on Barksdale’s flight line.