Ops never stop

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Melanie Bulow-Kelly
  • 6th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs
Attention to detail is a phrase every Airman is familiar with, however, for the Airmen with 6th Operations Support Squadron airfield management team, this phrase is more than just a cliché.

This hypersensitive attention is what keeps the more than one billion dollars worth of local and transient assets safe and secure--ensuring hundreds of annual missions may prevail.

Engrossed in this arduous around-the-clock task is the continuous upkeep of MacDill Air Force Base 11 taxiways and active runway, which is accomplished through a series of systematically designed sets of daily operational checks and periodic inspections.

Every day, MacDill's 32 million square feet of airfield is inspected; from the lights that guide the pilots during situations of limited visibility, to the strips of pavement that taxi the aircraft, to all construction efforts within their area of responsibility.

In addition to the three mentioned checks is one that is a top priority for the Air force and accounts for millions of dollars saved annually--foreign object debris (FOD) checks. The goal of the program is unpretentious...inspect runways, taxiways and maintenance areas to ensure that foreign objects do not obstruct aircraft, vehicles or personnel.

"We make sure that flight safety isn't compromised and that the flying mission goes off as planned," said Randy Jackson, 6th OSS airfield manager.

Aside from AMOPS Airmen keeping the airfield in tip-top shape, there is another set of mission critical taskings.

Prior to each and every take-off, aircrew must file a flight plan with AMOPS, which is then double-checked for accuracy of departure, route and number of personnel on board.

Along with flight plans, they are responsible for receiving prior permissions from transient aircraft. A prior permission required number is mandatory for transient aircraft before landing at MacDill.

AMOPS Airmen are also held accountable for constant communication and in-flight emergencies. An in-flight emergency is a phone call they hope to never receive, but the reality of it is that it is inevitable. Nevertheless, AMOPS is prepared to take the appropriate actions to inform key agencies, such as first responders.

By maintaining constant air to ground communication, information is relayed to the pilot of any perilous circumstances, such as inclement weather. Anything that may pose a threat or hinder an aircraft from taxiing, landing or taking off is addressed immediately.

"Tampa is the lightning capital of the world. Upon termination of 'lightning within five [nautical miles] notifications, we have to go see if lightning has struck the ground," said Jackson. "Sometimes there will be repeated strikes which will break up the asphalt and require immediate attention."

The AMOPS team provides a safe airfield environment for the KC-135 Stratotanker, supporting transit aircraft, distinguished visitors of two combatant commands, as well as, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Aircraft Operations Center.

"There is never a duplicate day; anything could happen at any time," stated Airman 1st Class Issac Butler, airfield management operations coordinator. "As an AMOC it is my job to be ready for anything, and at all times."