Back Then

Tower Eases Air Jam from the Southern Cross for February 20, 1970

Electronic copy of article provided by Leslie Hines

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By SP4 Mark Geiser

FSB 4-11 — "Hercules 137 this is 4-11 control tower with air hazards, over."

"This is Hercules 137, send them."

"4-11 control, roger that, firing out of ..." the ground voice listed grids, azimuths, and maximum ordinances for artillery missions being fired; he then advised the pilot, "you are clear for landing at the present time."

This is one of the sounds of operations at the new aircraft control tower on this 11th Brigade firebase. The eight foot square structure, perched 15 feet above the highest point of the firebase, was constructed to accommodate air traffic in and around the area, generally heavy due to the proximity of busy Quang Ngai City airport.

The idea began in September of last year when two men from the 3rd Battalion, 1st Infantry were chosen for an on-the-job training course dealing with aircraft control.

SGT Michael Burr (Boulder, Colo.) and SP4 James Lewis (Pinehurst, N.C.) attended the month-long school.

The course was given under the supervision of the tower operators who control all the air traffic coming into 11th Brigade Headquarters at FSB Bronco. The course included instruction on landing patterns, weather readings, artillery fire plotting and emergency landing procedures.

After completing the course, the newly-trained tower operators began laying the ground-work for a new tower facility. The tower was positioned for a view of all three helipads, all mortar and artillery firing positions and all aircraft approach and departure routes.

The structure which is complete with meteorological equipment keeps close coordination with the tactical operations center, artillery , and resupply areas to keep the incoming aircraft informed of all air hazards. Guidance is also given to aircraft passing through the area.

The facility became operational in December and has been guiding about 35 aircraft per day.

According to Burr, "Judging from the favorable comments we receive from the pilots, the facility is very successful. After all, they're the ones who should know."

(11th IO)

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Steve Ratcliff, who served with B/123rd Avn Bn. and later the 174th AHC donated pages of this Southern Cross issue; remaining pages were a personal purchase by Leslie Hines from the Military History Institute/War College in Carlisle Barracks, PA..

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