More Awards for Team Vance

  • Published
  • By 2nd Lt. Agneta Murnan
  • 71st Flying Training Wing Public Affairs
What does it take to run the busiest airfield and have the fastest average Radar Approach Control upgrade time in the Air Education and Training Command? How about all the while coordinating and improving aviation resource accountability and improving forecast accuracy? Members of the 71st Operations Support Squadron, in combination with aviation resource managers across the wing, demonstrated talent, hard work and knowledge that contributed to garnering four AETC level awards for 2006.

The Radar Approach Control, also known as the RAPCON, won the AETC D. Ray Hardin Air Traffic Control Facility of the Year award. "I am extremely proud of the job everyone in my flight does on a day-to-day basis," said Captain Hymes, Airfield Operations Flight commander. "Despite numerous challenges, to include low manning, outdated facilities and equipment, and a high training load, they make the mission happen safely every day!"

In 2006, the 71st Flying Training Wing was budgeted 81,000 flying hours. RAPCON controlled more than 327,000 aircraft operations, including departures, approaches and over-flight traffic. Captain Hymes said the flight was made up of "really hard workers; their skill, knowledge and dedication to helping the Joint Specialized Undergraduate Pilot Training program succeed was unparalleled."

In addition to the unit's attention to flying operations, air traffic controllers maintained currency and awareness of many regulations, including Federal Aviation Administration Orders, Air Force Instructions and local regulations.

Captain Hymes said air traffic control training required a "complete training team, from the trainee to the controllers to the watch supervisors, all the way to RAPCON leadership. Every person was needed to help the trainee succeed, to produce a fully knowledgeable air traffic controller."

Senior Master Sgt. Daniel Olson, currently the chief controller of the Air Traffic Control Tower received the AETC Air Traffic Control Enlisted Manager of the Year Award for 2006 and was recently recognized as the 71st Flying Training Wing Senior Noncommissioned Officer of the Year for 2006. Sergeant Olson was the RAPCON chief controller for roughly the first half of 2006 and became the tower chief controller for the second half. Between the two facilities, Sergeant Olson directed the activities of more than 70 controllers, who provided support for more than 27,000 sorties.

Sergeant Olson also engineered a dual qualification program for trainees to become skilled in both the RAPCON and tower, to meet the manning and flexibility needs of the flight. As of January 2007, roughly one seventh of the deployments on Vance Air Force Base were air traffic controllers from the RAPCON or tower. Exceeding headquarters' goals by 36 percent, Sergeant Olson also rejuvenated two on-the-job training programs to assign special experience identifiers to 17 controllers.

Organized through the 71st OSS Operations Flight by the aviation resource functional manager Senior Master Sgt. Todd Wheeler, the aviation resource managers, also known as "one charlies" across the 71st Flying Training Wing received the AETC Sergeant Dee Campbell Outstanding Small Unit Air Force Aviation Resource Management Team award for 2006. Collectively, the aviation resource managers were responsible for tracking more than 22,000 flight hours with 100 percent accountability. In addition, they streamlined the processes involved in database tracking for the new Introduction to Fighter Fundamentals mission.

The aviation resource managers led the creation of a standardized Flight Requirements Management System for five flying squadrons and maintained an accurate account of over $9 million of off-station fuel expenditures. In addition, they launched two new Community of Practice Web sites for Vance's Aviation Resource Management, consolidating aviation information and resources for all aircrew and resource managers.

Sergeant Wheeler said "I am extremely proud of the hard work the "one charlies" put forth daily to ensure the flying mission continues safely. What makes this award so special is that the aviation resource managers were judged and selected based on their ability to work as a team."

The 71st OSS is also the home of the Weather Operations Flight, whose chief, Master Sgt. Gary Rann, was named the AETC Weather Senior NCO of the Year. With a nearly perfect error rate, Sergeant Rann not only quality checked 7,000 observations, 3,100 weather briefs and 880 forecasts, he beat the AETC flight standard by 18 percent. Sergeant Rann also identified an equivalent chill temperature calculation error in new observation equipment that had Department of Defense-wide impact.

"I love my job because it really is a new challenge each day. No two days are alike," said Sergeant Rann. Originally from Carrier Mills, Ill., Sergeant Rann has spent the last three years at Vance AFB and the last 10 years in the field of meteorology. Sergeant Rann has a wife, Renee, and two children, Dustin, 13, and Bradley, 8. He is currently pursuing a meteorology degree through Mississippi State University and a computer science degree through the University of Illinois.

"The 71st OSS is a team of outstanding professionals who have a tremendous scope of impact across the JSUPT mission. These awards recognize the best in AETC. From weather, to aviation resource management, to air traffic control, no one comes close to the incredible accomplishments of our exceptional Airmen," said 71st OSS Squadron Commander Lt. Col. Ronald Baldinger.

All AETC level award recipients will compete at the Air Force level.