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Air Traffic Controllers Put to the Test for Hurricane Evacuation

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 flightline.