Pease International Airport (PSM)

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PSM & THE NHANG WIN 2023 AIR TRAFFIC CONTROL FACILITY OF THE YEAR

TOWERING ABOVE THE REST

157th Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs:

The 260th Air Traffic Control Squadron’s tower, located on Pease International Airport, earned the 2023 D. Ray Hardin Air Traffic Control Facility of The Year award for demonstrating superior ATC capabilities through seamless operations while ensuring safety and efficiency.

“This award is a testament to the day-to-day operations, dedication and professionalism that the controllers demonstrate up there every day,” said Capt. David Stern, incoming commander and former training and standardization officer of the 260th ATC Squadron.

The Airmen of the 260th stood out from nine other Air National Guard ATC squadrons across the nation, as well as several Air Guard-affiliated ATC facilities, to claim the honor.

“It means a lot to get recognized, especially at that level,” said Lt. Col. Gregg Van Splunder, former commander of the 260th ATC Squadron. “The tower is full of excellent controllers, both military and civilian, who work together and do an outstanding job 24/7.”

In 2023, the squadron supported a two-week total force employment exercise, an airshow and three deployers, all who received their Watch Supervisor ratings while deployed. This was in addition to handling multiple in-flight emergencies and leading one of the most active operation years in Pease history.

“It’s a whole community effort,” said Van Splunder. “Everyone from our radar, airfield and weather systems specialists to partners at the Portsmouth Development Authority, they all do so much to make the mission happen.”

The tower is one of the busiest air traffic facilities in the Air National Guard, safely managing over 63,000 operations annually. Controllers at Pease oversee an intricate mix of consistent corporate traffic, a flight school, transient military air traffic operations and the base’s KC-46.

“PSM Tower is unique from other facilities because of the type of traffic we work here daily,” said Joseph Yahnian, the Air Traffic Manager at Pease.

Aircraft range from small Cessna’s and RV’s to F-16, F-35, F-22, to every heavy aircraft in the Air Force, international jets and one of the world’s biggest airplanes, the Antonov An-225.

“It is not uncommon to have three or four slow, small aircraft in the pattern mixed with a couple heavy aircraft and a large C-130 all working and flying in the small airspace at the same time,” explained Yahnian.

The tower is manned by a combined group of Department of Defense civilian contractors and Airmen. In addition to air traffic controllers, the 260th is also made up of airfield maintenance technicians and support staff who contribute to the tower’s daily operation.

“Every single one of them has served in some capacity in the U.S. armed forces and understands what an impact their work has on the mission and the seacoast flying community,” said Yahnian.
The PDA owns and maintains the tower, built in the 1970s. They played a significant role in the daily operations that led to this achievement.

“This past year we have had HVAC failures, broken water pipes, and building challenges that they have found solutions for time and time again,” said Yahnian.

Yahnian added PDA’s work to maintain the tower, ensure the runway and movement area is free of foreign debris, remove snow and treat for icing, and issue NOTAMS to the flying community, kept the airport environment secure and usable for all operators.

“This achievement is nothing short of remarkable,” said Chasen Congreves, the Director of Operations at PDA. “I would like to share my appreciation for our partnership and these Airmen, and to let the traveling public know that they are certainly in good hands when flying to or from Portsmouth International Airport at Pease.”

The airfield is on track for another year of full patterns and the team is ready.

“Everyone continues to be highly professional, motivated, and dedicated to the mission here at PSM,” said Yahnian. “They keep the skies and airspace safe for all users, whether it be a brand-new student pilot on his first-solo flight in a Cessna, or a seasoned 30-year pilot in a KC-46. They are able to handle one of the most stressful jobs in the world with ease and skill every day.”

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