Facility Spotlight: Des Moines, Iowa
Thursday, August 23, 2012



The heart of the midwestern United States lies at the intersection of Interstates 80 and 35, home to Des Moines Tower (DSM). This level seven, 24-hour combined Tower and TRACON facility opened in 1976, and still provides service to the busiest airspace in Iowa.  

DSM is home to Iowa Air National Guard's (IANG) 132nd Fighter Wing, flying the F16 Fighting Falcon. The IANG contributes a major portion of the incredible mix of traffic seen at DSM. From single engine props to regional jets and heavy cargo carriers, every type and size of plane shows up at DSM.  

The wide range of weather in the Des Moines area creates a fun, yet challenging atmosphere for the DSM controllers, with summer thunderstorms and winter blizzards affecting the traffic flow on a minute-to-minute basis.

Special events are a common, if not constant, occurrence in the Des Moines area, keeping DSM controllers busy. Newton, Iowa, is home to the Iowa Speedway, which hosts five race weekends each summer, and makes for a busy airport before and after races. Dedicated football fans travel to Ames for Iowa State Cyclone games, and several businesses have home base operations located in Ankeny. Also, the Iowa Caucus brings many politicians and candidates to DSM every four years in preparation for the presidential election.

Proud to be 100 percent NATCA, DSM currently has 20 Certified Professional Controllers (CPCs) and five trainees. Because of this great membership, solidarity is high in Des Moines. DSM NATCA members hold quarterly events ranging from bowling, tailgating, water park excursions and holiday parties. Those events heighten member participation in the volleyball, softball and fantasy football leagues. DSM also hosts an annual Tower Tennis Tournament, highlighting the members’ summer activities. It’s been a staple of DSM summer fun for several years, complete with social media, photography coverage and trophies for the winners.