INCIRLIK AIR BASE, Turkey --
The 39th Operations Support Squadron airfield operations flight was awarded the U.S. Air Forces in Europe Airfield Complex of the Year award for 2016.
The squadron was considered for the award based on their ability to quickly communicate with their NATO allies and react to real world situations.
“Winning an award at USAFE level was made possible by our ability to overcome external obstacles and launch continued Operation INHERENT RESOLVE missions,” said Staff Sgt. Mario Duarte, airfield management operations supervisor. “Our mission is critical to those operations because no aircraft can land or depart without the OSS.”
Their mission, which is to provide safe and efficient air traffic flow to the base, ensures aircraft can conduct operations from Incirlik Air Base. The OSS Airmen and allies complete their tasks by working together within airfield management operations, air traffic control, and radar approach control.
“The job here in Incirlik is unique compared to other bases in that we share the airfield with our NATO counterparts,” said Senior Airman Jacob Winscott, 39th Operations Support Squadron air traffic controller. “Everything from aircraft movement, departures and arrivals must be coordinated with the host nation’s military to ensure the safety of the vehicles and aircraft.”
Without their airfield expertise, and coordination with Turkish airfield personnel, the mission wouldn’t be possible.
“We have a great group of Turkish controllers that are willing to help us complete our tasks in a timely matter,” Winscott said.
In addition to excelling in their daily duties, Airmen from the 39th OSS airfield operations flight distinguished themselves when they became the first unit in the Air Force to recover a remotely piloted aircraft, via light gun, during an in-flight emergency. Light guns are used to communicate safe landing procedures to pilots by flashing different colors and sequences toward the aircraft if radio communications are lost.
“The main OSS building experienced a building generator failure late at night, requiring the facility to be evacuated and divert to alternate facilities,” said Winscott. “During that time, an MQ-1 predator drone that was in flight went into an emergency situation with no radio contact.”
When the RPA lost communication with the tower, the aircrew piloting it used the RPA’s camera to view flashing light signals from OSS to guide the RPA in to a safe landing.
“That night, the 39th OSS successfully issued a landing clearance to an unmanned aircraft - an Air Force first,” Winscott said.
Through dedication, communication and teamwork, the men and women of the 39th OSS are what makes the unit USAFE’s airfield complex of choice.