ATC Marines keep aircraft flying, landing safely aboard MCAS Camp Pendleton
By Lance Cpl. Drake Nickels
| Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton | July 1, 2020
U.S. Marine Staff Sgt. Benjamin Yearick, the air traffic control chief with Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron, Marine Corps Air Station Camp Pendleton, looks out over the flight line while observing flight operations on the air station June 30, 2020. The ATC tower coordinates all flights incoming and outgoing from the air station to ensure safety and efficient flight operations. Yearick is a native of Monroe, North Carolina. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Drake Nickels)
Camp Pendleton, Calif. --
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,” said U.S. Marine Lance Cpl. Sean Carter, an air traffic controller with Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron, MCAS Camp Pendleton. “My job is to give clearance to pilots while they are taxiing across the air station.”
The ATC tower on the air station typically handles the coordination of rotary wing aircraft from tenant units with the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, but also has the capability to 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,” said Cpl. Kareem Hitt, the air traffic control supervisor for H&HS, MCAS Camp Pendleton. “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 fire fighting coordination. Being located in Southern California wildfires are no stranger, on multiple occasions the Marines with the ATC tower have coordinated refueling and water drops for aircraft assisting in extinguishing fires on the installation.
Whether it is strategic lift capabilities, daily flight operations or wild fire relief, the Marines with the ATC tower have their hands full and are a vital piece of the mission of MCAS Camp Pendleton and Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton.