Army air traffic controllers train at Richmond County, NC, Airport

By GAVIN STONE | Richmond County Daily Journal | Published: January 28, 2020

ROCKINGHAM, N.C. (Tribune News Service) — It’s training week for a group of future Army air traffic controllers who will be calling the shots at the Richmond County Airport until Feb. 4.

Thanks to an agreement with the airport, the 3-58 Airfield Operations Battalion, which is stationed at Fort Bragg, is able to use the facility for monthly trainings at no cost, Sgt. Clayton Conrad said. Seven trainees are familiarizing themselves with air traffic control terminology, practicing responding to various emergency situations such as guiding a plane into the runway that has an engine problem, and running through different air traffic patterns with a series of small planes.

When they complete their training they could be deployed at a base overseas, Conrad said.

Until Feb. 4, the airspace around the airport will be military controlled Class D. This means that anyone flying within 2,500 feet of the surface and within a five-mile radius of the Richmond County Airport must establish two-way radio communication with the 3-58 Airfield Operations Battalion prior to entering the airspace and maintain communications while in the airspace, according to the FAA.

The battalion has set up a small base of operations along the runway where Spc. Taylor Anderson and Pvt. Zander Steyn were calling the shots from a Humvee as small planes zoomed overhead. In mid-March, the full battalion will conduct training operations at the airport, bringing in roughly 60 military service members to the facility, according to Conrad.

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