MCB Hawaii: Overwatch
Story by SSgt Alisa Helin on 09/20/2019
Guiding an aircraft to the ground safely is a task not only for the pilots, but also for the air traffic controllers. As an aircraft approaches the flight line of Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Kaneohe Bay, Marine Corps Base Hawaii (MCBH), you hear the controller constantly engaging the pilot on the other end.
“On flight path. Slightly above flight path. On flight path,” Sgt. Abram Sybian, an air traffic controller with MCAS Kaneohe Bay, repeats over and over as he helps guide an aircraft to its final destination, the MCAS Kaneohe Bay flight line.
The Federal Aviation Administration is the functioning means of the U.S. Department of Transportation and provides the regulation and oversight of all civil aviation. These regulations and policies are strictly followed, allowing ATC Marines at MCAS Kaneohe Bay, to provide the best possible support, readiness, and training opportunities to the operational forces aboard Marine Corps Base Hawaii.
“The pressure can either make you perform at your best or fail,” said Sybian. “And failure for us isn’t an option.”
While the ATC Marines in the radar room are on hand to establish and expedite air traffic movement, keeping in mind the safety of the crew and aircraft, the pilot in command has the final word for the safe operation of the aircraft. The pilot in command is responsible for following all rules and regulations set forth by the Federal Aviation Administration.
MCAS Kaneohe Bay provides 24-hour ATC operations through its shift work schedule. The team also has the ability to talk to other towers, such as Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam.
“This allows for a seamless flow of control when the other military services come to our side of the island to train,” said Sybian.
During the Rim of the Pacific Exercise, the amount of personnel and use of the flight line multiplies, but to Sybian the mission is always the same.
“The ATC Facility here does a great job of making sure that we can project all the power that we need to with our aircraft and our personnel transportation. We promote that resiliency because we have eyes on everything, making sure that we are getting out there. And, we’re producing that readiness making sure that [an aircraft] can get off the ground at a moment’s notice ready to provide the air traffic safety,” said Sybian.