New radar praised at Johnstown
A squadron based at the John Murtha Airport in Johnstown has become the most used air traffic control unit in the Air National Guard thanks to a new radar system, officials said.
The Radar Approach Control, or RAPCON, system went operational on May 5 when the 258th Air Traffic Control Squadron took over some airspace from the Cleveland Center.
The number of flights controlled by the 258th from the John Murtha Airport in Johnstown is expected to increase. The unit typically handles about 7,000 flights per month. Officials project that by the end of the year, the unit will handle air traffic control for 80,000 flights.
The new radar system, with improved lower-altitude radar coverage and better weather tracking, will enhance flight safety for military and civilian planes and seven regional airports, officials said.
"We are the only unit in the whole Air Force that has every piece of equipment out there," said Maj. Joe Hensley, 258th commander. "We are very unique in that we are the only unit that has a fixed tower, a mobile tower, a fixed radar and a mobile radar."
About 50 members of the 258th who were deployed for Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom during the past year returned home on Saturday to an awards ceremony.
The squadron went through nine years of preparation before implementing RAPCON.
"The 258th is a class act in every level of this organization. It's about morale and passion, and you see that here. You see the enthusiasm and the passion here," said Scott Duke, who was lead inspector for a National Guard commissioning certification inspection that was conducted in April.
The 258th Air Traffic Control Squadron is attached to the Pennsylvania Air National Guard's 171st Air Refueling Wing, based in Coraopolis, and handles military and civilian air traffic at 8,000 feet and below, said 1st Lt. Chris Preffer, spokesman for the 171st.
"It's not a civilian-operated tower," he said. "There are a few of them in the country."
The Johnstown airport offers an alternate operating location for Pittsburgh-based refueling aircraft and Harrisburg-based aircraft should their home bases become unusable.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- U.S. Steel to relocate corporate headquarters on former Civic Arena site
- Clues to Chief Justice John Roberts’ thinking on new ObamaCare case
- High winds, warm temps in Western Pennsylvania on Monday
- Finding balance between toughness, excessiveness key for Penguins’ Downie
- Pirates trade Davis to A’s for international signing bonus money
- Starkey: No explaining Steelers, AFC North
- NFL parity makes playoff chase a multi-team muddle
- CT scans can find smokers’ lung cancer early
- For Steelers, a fight to finish for playoff berth
- Bunny Mellon auction fetches $218 million
- Pirates enter Plan B with Martin off market