Air traffic control keeps aircraft flying, landing safely aboard Camp Pendleton
Last updated 7/15/2020 at 8:29am
Lance Cpl. Drake Nickels
U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Camp Pendleton
The air traffic control tower on Marine Corps Air Station Camp Pendleton coordinates all incoming and outgoing flights from the air station to ensure safety and efficient flight operations while Marines conduct training.
"Communication with the aircraft landing and on the ground is very important," Lance Cpl. Sean Carter, an air traffic controller with Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron at Camp Pendleton, said. "My job is to give clearance to pilots while they are taxiing across the air station."
The air traffic control tower on the air station typically handles the coordination of rotary wing aircraft from tenant units with the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, but it also can land, guide and coordinate cargo transportation from larger aircraft such as the C-5 Super Galaxy and the KC-130J Hercules. The Marines continuously train to handle the various aircraft that may come to the air station.
"We train for relief," Cpl. Kareem Hitt, the air traffic control supervisor at Camp Pendleton, said. "I'm not going to be here forever so I must ensure that the Marine that replaces me can fill my shoes."
A task that also differs from the mission of other air stations is firefighting coordination. Being located in Southern California wildfires are no stranger, on multiple occasions the Marines with the air traffic control tower has coordinated refueling and water drops for aircraft assisting in extinguishing fires on the installation.
Whether it is strategic lift capabilities, daily flight operations or wildfire relief, the Marines with the air traffic control tower have their hands full and are a vital piece of the mission of Camp Pendleton.